The Wellesley Applejacks held on for two periods versus the Ayr Centennials on Saturday night, seeing the score tied twice, but Ayr pulled ahead in the final 20 minutes to take the game 6-2.
It was truly a back-and-forth game as Wellesley’s David Elford put away a power play marker two minutes into the game, assisted by Nicholas Breault and Sean McEwan. This was followed by a goal from Centennial Riley Clipper (Tyler Harrison, Mackenzie Kemp) just 35 seconds later.
“Ayr’s a strong team. They’re one of the strongest teams in the league for many reasons. I thought we played well. We played well for 40 minutes. The guys worked hard and that’s what our goal was, was to match their work ethic and outwork them and I thought we did. Unfortunately it’s a 60 minute game and we just couldn’t play 60 minutes with that team for that night,” said head coach Brad Gerber.
Ayr didn’t take the lead until 13:48 when Jordan Pettitt put one past Wellesley netminder Ryan Porter, assisted by Sean Mitchell.
Wellesley tied the game up again halfway through the second period on a goal by McEwan. He was helped by Alex Uttley and Breault.
But that was the last goal for the Jacks as Ayr’s Austin Kovrig scored to take them to a 3-2 lead less than a minute later.
“I just think it’s Ayr’s experience. They’re a veteran team. But I give our guys credit, I really do. I thought we played, I’m not going to say as good as we can, but I thought we played a good game. We’re young and we competed for most of the night,” Gerber said.
The Jacks couldn’t turn things around in the third frame as Ayr scored three more times before the game ended. Goal scorers were Tyler Harrison (2), and Brendan Schaefer, assisted by Sean Mitchell, Clipper, Quinn Diamond, Jackson White, and Jake Whibbs.
“I think it’s a good learning experience for the guys too. We know where we need to get to, to compete against the better teams in the league. We just keep working towards that,” Gerber said.
It’s worth noting how well the Jacks’ penalty kill worked. They allowed no goals while shorthanded one, and even two players.
“We killed a 5-on-3 there in the second period, which was huge. And I thought that might change the game a little bit, but obviously again Ayr’s a good team. They know how to bounce back from stuff like that. But you know what, our penalty kill was good,” Gerber said.
Former Sugar Kings Mitch Klie and Cash Seraphim who play for Ayr now didn’t tally up any points this game, although Seraphim received four penalties worth a total of eight minutes in the last period including slashing, cross checking, roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct, and he left the game.
Cal Jeffries is expected to return for Wellesley this weekend. He cut open his arm about a month ago playing hockey and it didn’t heal properly initially.
“We definitely miss Cal Jeffries. He is definitely one of our leaders. When he’s in the lineup it just seems everything goes a little smoother, that’s for sure,” Gerber said.
He commends their goalie, Ryan Porter, for facing nearly 50 shots. If Porter continues to play strong games like that one, they’ll win some hockey games, said Gerber.
“We just have to stay focused and stay positive. It is a very tough league and it’s a long season. If we get efforts like that most nights we should be able to win, I would think. Even the third period when they scored their three goals to put the game away I thought our compete level was still there,” Gerber said.
Wellesley is sixth out of nine teams in the league with a 5-8 record.
“I think if we come out with the same work ethic and intensity I think we have a good shot of winning two games this weekend, but obviously every team in this league is tough.”
The Jacks are off to Tavistock to play the Braves on Friday. They’ll play at home at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night against the Delhi Travellers.