A weekend of away games didn’t go well for the Wellesley Applejacks, as they came home with losses to the Ayr Centennials and the New Hamburg Firebirds.
The Jacks headed to Ayr on November 28 where they were defeated 5-2 by the top team in the league.
Wellesley started off strong, as Coleton Madge scored the first goal of the night, assisted by Matt Schieck and Cal Jefferies. Ayr would return the favor three minutes later when Colin Schuringa landed himself an unassisted goal, to tie up the game.
Head coach Tim Robb said considering Ayr is the top in the league, the Jacks played well against them.
“We kept it pretty close until the third period,” Robb said. “And some untimely penalties and then on top of that us trying to surge for some offence, obviously cost us a goal and then put us behind. We never recovered from it but we put in a good fight.”
Ayr was the lone scorer of the second period, when Jake Whibbs (Anthony Pullia, Brendan Schaefer) put the puck between the pipes at 12:42.
A power play helped Centennial Jackson White (Andrew Richard) to up the score to 3-1 more than halfway through the last frame. Wellesley’s Justin Plant (Paul Morra, Reid Denstedt) notched one of his own two minutes later, but that would be their last goal of the night.
Ayr continued to dominate with two more goals, both while shorthanded. Goals came from Eric Hackborn (Richard) and Schaefer on an empty net.
Said Robb, “5-2 against them when they had an empty netter and a late goal is pretty good. I can’t complain.”
The Applejacks got into some penalty trouble, spending 33 minutes in the box, higher than its average of 25 minutes per game. Schieck was ejected from the game for checking from behind. Wellesley players racked up 13 penalties, five of which were taken by Schieck.
The following night was much of the same against New Hamburg. The Firebirds controlled the game in the first with goals from Taylor Wood (Chris Eckert) and Kory Nowak (Wood, Eckert).
Robb said against New Hamburg he thought they played well, but had some bad bounces.
“We just didn’t capitalize when we had some good chances,” Robb said. “When you have the opportunity we have to finish and we didn’t and they did. Therefore a 4-2 game for them, honestly could have been 4-4 or 4-6 for us. We had enough chances. It’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Applejack Josh Bickell was successful in his attempt on goal, assisted by Matt Ridge and Jake Wilkinson. But the Firebirds would pull ahead to 3-1 by the end of the second period with a goal from Jaden Goetz (Shawn Antonides).
Each team chipped in a goal apiece in the first five minutes of the third period, to bring the game to a 4-2 result. New Hamburg’s Wood (Nowak) and Wellesley’s Taylor Doering (Alex Uttley) were the goal-scorers.
Robb said the Jacks are competing much better than when he first took over as coach. They’re skating and working harder.
“I think we have the right mentality in the room that it’s not okay to lose,” Robb said. “That part is really helpful. We still lack some top six scoring guys. We’re trying to address it but it’s not easy to find. We’re looking.”
He said it would definitely improve their game to add players with strong scoring abilities. They’ve been working on their power plays in practice, but weren’t able to cash in on those opportunities this weekend. On the other hand, their penalty kills have been quite good. Penalties and missing players were some reasons for the weekend’s losses.
“Again we were missing two of our top scorers, one on a suspension and one we sent up to help the Sugar Kings because they were very short themselves,” Robb said. “Night in and night out we’re expecting the same guys to get it done and sometimes they need some help.”
He said they’re getting through a very hard stretch and now they’ve got an easier five games, which will hopefully see better results than the last five.
The Jacks sit in seventh in the league, ahead of Paris and Delhi. After taking on the Braves in Tavistock Friday night, they return home on December 7 to play the Norwich Merchants. Game time is 7:30 p.m..