After dropping a pair of close games last weekend, the Wellesley Applejacks losing streak ran to five.Despite falling back to second last in the MWJCHL standings, (eighth place with 18 points, ahead of only the winless Delhi Travellers), head coach Tim Robb remains optimistic.
“We’ve just got to stay healthy and keep working hard and our bounces will come,” he said. “Hopefully they come in abundance for us, and that’s all we can keep hoping for. We’ve been just on the outside, these last two weekends; we are really competing and playing hard and that’s what it takes to win.”
On December 5, the Jacks fell 2-1 in Tavistock.
“I thought we competed well, but it was a very broken up game with a lot of infractions called so it never really got any flow to it,” Robb said. “We had chances to score; on one shift we had two breakaways, the first went off the post and the second, at the very end of the shift, we put it right into his breadbasket. That happens. Then in the third period we had another breakaway where the player wasn’t quite able to finish. So obviously the score didn’t end quite the way we wanted.”
Jake Wilkinson opened the scoring for the Jacks at 8:54 of the first period on the power play (Alex Uttley, Chris Beauchesne).
That’s all the Jacks could muster though, in a game that featured 66 penalty minutes on 29 infractions (31 minutes on 16 infractions by Wellesley).
Two nights later the Jacks lost 4-3 at home to the Norwich Merchants.
“Again, I thought we competed very well in terms of working hard and skating hard,” Robb said. “We really took it to them in the first period. But they started to bring it on in the second and by the third it was a tight hockey game. We just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net again after the first.”
Norwich got the first goal of the game, but Wellesley notched the next three, all in the first period.
Captain Reid Denstedt scored twice, the first assisted by Alex Uttley and Tyler Seguin, the second by Uttley. Blake Hetherington scored in the third (Uttley, Denstedt).
The Merchants got the next two goals to tie things up. It remained deadlocked until 18:09, when the visitors found the back of the net on the power play.
Off the ice, the Jacks made a number of moves last week, trading goalie Brayden Bruce and defenseman Coleton Madge to Ayr, picking up goalie Keaton Weiss from Mitchell, along with the additions of forwards Hayden Stewart and Jack Battaglia from Burford.
They also named forward Matt Schieck player of the month for November.
“I put a lot of confidence in Matt, as a guy coming in having played Junior B the year before and as a guy I knew quite well having been a billet for the (Waterloo) Siskins,” Robb said. “I saw a lot of his games last year so I had a good idea of what I felt Matt could be to the team. I consider Matt like a sponge, you tell him something and he wants to learn and it is showing in his game. He is a gamer and he has a ton of talent.”
On the road to take on Delhi Friday night, the Jacks return home Saturday to host Ayr (7:30 p.m.). On Wednesday they welcome Burford (7:30 p.m.).
It’s a busy stretch for the squad, as they are set to play seven games in two weeks.
It’s an important stretch that will go a long way in determining playoff positioning. Robb is determined to get his guys ready.
“A lot of this week is going to be focused on our compete level, pushing the guys to work as hard as they can and to take pride in their game.”