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Jacks manage to win big, lose a little less so

Applejack captain Reid Denstedt had a glorious chance to find the back of the net during the first period against Burford Nov. 21 at the Wellesley arena. While Denstedt failed to convert the opportunity, he would go on to score later in Wellesley’s 6-1 rout. [Scott Barber / The Observer]

Making short work of the Delhi Travellers in a 9-2 win January 17, the Wellesley Applejacks’ weekend got decidedly worse in a pair of losses – 7-3, 4-2 – to the team they’re likely to face when the playoffs get going, the Norwich Merchants.

Taylor Doering battles for the puck with a Norwich Merchant during last Saturday’s game, which the visitors went on to win 7-3. The two teams are likely to face off in the first round of playoffs next month. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
Taylor Doering battles for the puck with a Norwich Merchant during last Saturday’s game, which the visitors went on to win 7-3. The two teams are likely to face off in the first round of playoffs next month. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
The team hopes last weekend’s play won’t be indicative of what’s to come in the postseason.

“Who will play in the playoffs is pretty well set. Pretty sure were going to end up playing Norwich in the playoffs,” said head coach Rob Way this week.

“When you look at the whole season against Norwich, every game has been a one-goal game except for the Saturday night game,” he added.

The Jacks had an easier time against the Travellers, but it was an important game, giving the boys in red a firm hold on fifth place in the standings, 14 points back of the fourth-place Merchants after the weekend.

Delhi scored first, six minutes into the first period, but Wellesley’s Mackenzie Shantz (assists: Jake Ariss, Mckenzie Carter) answered at 12:12. The Jacks also outshot the home team 15-8. Scoring again to start the second period was Delhi’s last order of business before the floodgates opened.

The Jacks potted goal after goal for a total of eight in the next two periods. Devon Wagner (Luke Rose, Cody Tapsell) and Alex Stoody (Justin Lebold) – who would earn himself a hat trick by game’s end – were the big scorers in that period at 7:05 and 18:23, as Jacks goalie Josh Heer blocked 12 shots. One after the other the shots kept coming from Stoody (Sean McEwan, Brett MacDonald), Wagner (Cal Jefferies, Lebold) and Reid Denstedt (Felix Lantaigne, Tapsell) scored at 1:04, 1:44 and 2:43 in the third period. Wagner (Mark Detzler) completed the hat trick at 5:31 followed by Carter (Denstedt, Troy Williams) at 10:40 and finally Stoody (McEwan, MacDonald) at 14:42.

Not as diligent the next night, the Jacks lost on home ice and it wasn’t pretty, Way said.

“Saturday night I didn’t think our compete level was good and the score was indicative of that.”

The Merchants opened the scoring at 3:59 in the first period. Denstedt replied for the Jacks at 4:46, potting the first of two on the night. Norwich got one past goalie Brayden Bruce at 9:18 and MacDonald (Lantaigne) scored at 10:36. The Merchants closed the period’s scoring at 19:45 and followed up in the second period at 0:32 and 1:58. Wellesley’s final goal came from Denstedt (unassisted) at 6:22, making the score 5-3 after 40 minutes.

The Merchants would bury two more in the third to seal Wellesley’s fate.

The home crowd was treated to a better show the following day as the Jacks had fire in their bellies, making the returning Merchants work for the win.

On-ice aggression was evidence the Jacks came to play hard, Way said of a fight between Jake Ariss and Norwich’s Zach Couwenberg that saw both players ousted. Norwich managed two goals in the middle of the first period but Wellesley still outshot them 13-7, with Lantaigne (Denstedt, Lebold) scoring with seconds to go at 19:53. Matched for shots on net in the second period (17-17), Norwich scored two more at 1:33 and 12:39 and Wellesley made a final go of it in the third period at 6:58 courtesy of Jefferies (Doering, McEwan).

The Jacks have just four games left in the regular season, including a home-and-home matchup with the Mounties that started Friday night in Wellesley before heading to Paris Sunday.

The following weekend, the Jacks host Burford and Delhi to finish things off.

“If we come to play, it’s going to a very good series when we play that first round against Norwich,” Way said of the playoffs that will follow.

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