A win and a loss over the weekend bought the Wellesley Applejacks no closer to their goal of a .500 record by the end of December.
With a record of 12-13-1, they sit in fifth place, just four points (two wins) behind Tavistock, with a game in hand.
In Ayr last Thursday, the Jacks lost 6-2 to the second-place team. They skated to a win on Sunday though, beating Paris 6-4.
“Actually the game in Ayr I thought we had a really good first period,” said head coach Brad Gerber. “We were leading 1-0 after the first. They’re obviously a very good team in our league and we played exactly how we wanted to, as far as taking care of our end and getting pucks in deep. We were rewarded. That was good.”
With less than 30 seconds left in the first versus Ayr, Wellesley’s Braidon Kerbs scored a power play marker, assisted by Brady Gerber and Spencer Brick, to give the Jacks the lead.
But the Centennials pulled up their socks in the second, putting away three goals by the end of 20 minutes. Cash Seraphim (2), and Jake Whibbs scored, with help from Zachary Masters (2), Mitch Klie (2), Riley Clipper, and Brendan Schaefer.
“Ayr picked it up a notch and they’re a good team. Against teams like that you make a mistake and they’re going to score on you and that’s what happened,” Gerber said.
They kept the scoring going in the third, tallying two more goals from Whibbs (Logan Beechey) and Schaefer.
Cal Jefferies scored on a power play, assisted by Alex Uttley and Jackson Keller to lessen the gap 5-2. But Seraphim earned a hat trick, scoring for the third time that game to end it 6-2 for Ayr.
Gerber says it was still a good effort for the Jacks, and it’s difficult for a young team to face one with so many veterans.
“It’s stuff that we can correct, just turning the puck over and not getting the puck in deep when we should and little things like that. We’re not really concerned about it,” Gerber said.The Jacks found more success on home ice on Sunday versus the Mounties. The first period was a true back and forth. Wellesley’s Nick Mercier earned a power play marker, assisted by Jake Wilkinson and Keller. Less than two minutes later Paris’ Brett Wilson got his own power play goal, assisted by Patrick Snell and Keegan Alvestad.
Fast forward 20 seconds and the Jacks were in the lead again with an unassisted goal from Keller. Not to be outdone, the Mounties picked up their second goal 22 seconds later when Austin Sine (Griffin Heitshu) scored.
“It was a good period. I thought both teams worked pretty hard. I thought we played well enough that we should have been ahead after the first. I thought we carried the play. We were pleased with the way they were playing, but not happy that it was only 2-2,” Gerber said.
Wellesley added two quick goals in the second within the first three minutes and held the Mounties off for the rest of the period to keep their lead. Sean McEwan and Nicholas Breault earned the goals, with Jefferies, Breault, McEwan, and Nathan Schlupp helping.
“In the second period, that has been our weak period, I thought the second period was a real good period for us. We really forced the play and we did things that we need to do to win hockey games,” Gerber said.
Paris evened the playing field as Heitshu and Mikael Ruffini scored to lock the team at 4s. Robbins (2), Richard Brooks, and Cole Corriveau provided assists.
“We weren’t dictating the play anymore. We have to play our style, not their style. They came pretty hard at us and they tied it up pretty quick,” Gerber said.
As the clock wound down, Mercier took advantage of a power play and scored with 90 seconds left to play. Breault and Keller assisted. McEwan added the final goal on an empty net, helped by Jefferies.
“After they tied it up 4-4, I give the boys credit for staying with it and staying focused. We got a power play goal late there to win it and we got the empty netter as well. It was a good win for us,” Gerber said.
Paris spent 48 minutes in the box compared to Wellesley’s 15. This was crucial for the Jacks’ win, and something that’s part of their game plan. Gerber says they’ve been telling the players to stay out of the scuffles after the whistle goes, and to stay focused on the game, which clearly paid off.
And it certainly feels good to beat the third-place team.
“I think it’s pretty huge for the guys, not only for moving up in the standings ourselves, but it’s confidence as well. I think any time you beat a team ahead of you it’s got to feel good for the boys. Confidence goes a long way in hockey and if you’ve got confidence going into the next game against whoever you’re playing it’s a big factor,” Gerber said.
Facing Tavistock and Paris for their final games of December, the Jacks are hopeful about moving up to fourth place. They also beat Tavistock the last time they played.
“The last two games are big games. Tavistock, we’re only four points behind them for fourth place with a game in hand, so obviously we want to catch them for fourth place, and then Paris again. They’re in third place, so who knows. They’re quite a few points ahead of us, but you never know what can happen in the new year,” Gerber said.
The Jacks have two more games before the Christmas break, both at home. They’ll play Tavistock on Dec. 20 and Paris on Dec. 23. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. for both.