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Jacks end season with convincing win over Burford

Reid Denstedt eyes the goal during the Wellesley Applejacks’ 3-2 victory over the Norwich Merchants Oct. 11 at the Wellesley arena.

Weather cancels final game, now Wellesley in first-round battle against Norwich

Applejack Eric Heffernan jostles for the puck with Burford’s Matt Kliewer February 1 in the final game of the regular season, won by the Jacks 11-5. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
Applejack Eric Heffernan jostles for the puck with Burford’s Matt Kliewer February 1 in the final game of the regular season, won by the Jacks 11-5. [Elena Maystruk / The Observer]
Alex Stoody’s hat trick helped pace the Wellesley Applejacks to an 11-5 win over the Burford Bulldogs January 31 in what turned out to be the final regular-season game, the weather cancelling the following day’s match against Delhi.

The boys in red now face what is expected to be a closely contested first-round bout with the Norwich Merchants.

Evenly matched in shots – Wellesley 40, Burford 39 at game’s end – it was goaltending that made the difference, especially in a fast-paced opening period, said head coach Rob Way.

“Our goalie Josh [Heer] made a number of really big saves in the first period and their goalie didn’t make those big saves and in the end, we were up 4-1. That got us rolling.”

Stoody, assisted by Eric Heffernan, got things rolling at 4:25, the first of three that would bump his points total to 27-28-55, good enough for fifth place in the Midwestern Junior C Hockey League.

The Bulldogs responded at 6:51 but Wellesley quickly buried three more goals at 7:43 courtesy of Brett MacDonald (Stoody), Mackenzie Shantz (Mckenzie Carter) at 10:08 and Cal Jefferies (Shantz) at 13:06. It was 4-1 after 20 minutes.

Penalties and special teams played a role, with both teams potting two on the power play, but Wellesley taking only four of the 14 infractions called.

“The kids played well, got out of the gate fast and because we were scoring so many goals it was a very offensive game, not a defensive game,” Way said.

After the intermission, Cody Tapsell (Luke Rose, Jefferies) kept things rolling in the second period at 3:02 and Burford countered with their second goal nearly a minute later. It was all Jacks for the next 16 minutes as Reid Denstedt (Devon Wagner, Blake Hetherington), Wagner (McEwan), Stoody (Rose, MacDonald) and Stoody again (Heffernan, Tapsell) peppered the net at 9:52, 15:05, 17:01 and 17:15. The Jacks beat the Bulldogs 16-14 on the shot clock.

In the final frame, the Bulldogs tried to make a game of it by scoring the next two goals at 1:03 and 2:41. MacDonald (Stoody, Heffernan) potted a goal at 5:04 and the Bulldogs scored on Heer at 9:40 before Denstedt (Tapsell, McEwan) delivered swift justice with the final goal at 15:06.

After an uplifting end to the regular season, the Jacks rolled into the playoffs against Norwich, on the road Friday night before returning home to Wellesley for game two Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Heading into the weekend, Way said the matchup should make for some good games.

“Like I said all along, we’re playing the fourth-place [team] right above us, so if the kids play like they are capable of and play a full 60 minutes and play disciplined, we have a really good chance of moving on. But Norwich is a very good team; all year we’ve lost a game in overtime and we’ve lost three or four one-goal games to them so we are really close.”

The final game dropped, the Jacks finished the season with a record of 19-17-3. The Merchants were 27-11-2.

“It’s going to go either way this season; it’ll just depend on which team will be disciplined and stay out of the penalty box and which team wants to work hard for a full 60 minutes. Hopefully we get some people out to the games, this should be good hockey against these guys, we’re so evenly matched,” said Way.

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