Adding two wins to their record on the weekend, the Wellesley Applejacks took a 3-1 lead in the first round of playoffs versus the Tavistock Braves.
A win on Wednesday night at home would propel them to the next round.
Head coach Brad Gerber says the coaches thought the guys played really well on Friday night, going into a road game with the series tied 1-1.
“We got back to the basics. I thought the guys did a really good job of getting pucks in deep, good numbers coming back, all the things we talked about. Playing a patient game is very important in the playoffs,” Gerber said.
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On Friday in Tavistock the Jacks had to battle into double overtime to take the 4-3 win. It took nearly the whole 20 minutes before either team scored, as Tavistock’s Ocean Check found the back of the net on a power play to lead going into the second frame.
Angus Rowland and Jacob Rooke were the helpers.
Scott Martin (Spencer Brick, Braidon Kerbs) and Nick Mercier (Shaun Pickering, Justin Lebold) added two goals less than a minute apart in the second to give the Jacks the advantage.
Braves forward Jake Wiffen fired back with one of his own, assisted by Rowland and Petrie to lock the game at 2-2.
The Jacks took advantage of the power play as Kevan Hada sat out an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Sean McEwan made the game 3-2 to finish off the second. Cal Jefferies and Nick Breault assisted.
Unwilling to be outdone in their own barn, Tavistock’s Maverick Petrie (Wiffen, Rowland) slipped the puck in Wellesley’s net to send the game into overtime.
“After the big win Friday night I thought we would kind of have the momentum, which we didn’t. But that’s expected in playoff hockey. I thought we had a good first period. We got away from our game in the second. We started taking some undisciplined penalties again and that just takes the whole flow out of the game. You can’t play four lines the way you want to play four lines,” Gerber said.
And finally at 17:49 in double overtime Wellesley secured the 4-3 win as Mercier scored his second of the night, assisted by Kerbs and McEwan.
“Thank goodness we had a heck of a third. I give the guys a lot of credit. We stuck with it and fortunately we got a bounce or too and we forced overtime,” Gerber said.
The next night, also in Tavistock, had a similar feel as both teams battled to continue to the next round of playoffs.
This time around Wellesley scored first, at 4:01 on a successful power play marker from Mercier, assisted by Lebold and Pickering.
Goals from Mackenzie Sealy (Andrew Bogdon, Wiffen) and Jacob Rooke (Josh Borys, Check) earned the Braves their first lead of the night.
And in the second Wiffen scored on a power play, helped by Borys and Sealy to push the score to 3-1.
He opened the scoring again in the third on a power play, giving them a three-goal lead. Jared Yantzi and Rowland assisted.
The Jacks finally got their legs back halfway through the third, knocking back three goals in just under five minutes. Pickering (Mercier), Brady Gerber (Mercier, Pickering), and Mercier (Jefferies), scored for Wellesley.
Gerber says some of the more veteran players came through when they needed them, but it was a full team effort.
“Nick Mercier played a really good weekend on defence. We acquired him from Paris and he’s been a really solid defenseman ever since he came to us. All the guys did what they had to and they got the job done. Cal Jefferies, getting Sean McEwan back from injury is huge. And Alex Uttley, he’s played Junior C playoffs before. They don’t panic and they stay calm and keep working and get the job done,” Gerber said.
This time it only took one period of overtime to end the game. Alex Uttley sealed the deal for the Jacks with the advantage as Cody Bateman took a cross checking penalty for the Braves. McEwan and Jefferies provided the assists.
Prior to Wednesday’s game Gerber said he thought they had momentum coming home now.
“Winning two games down there on the weekend was a huge boost for the team. It sure would be nice to wrap it up. All the other three series are done and they’re resting, so it would be nice to get this series done as soon as possible and maybe get some rest. But you know what, in the playoffs nothing comes easy. Tavistock’s fighting hard. We’re going to have to play our game, that’s for sure, smart hockey, stay out of the box and you know what we’ll be alright,” Gerber said.
The Jacks and the Braves faced off in Wellesley on Wednesday night, with the potential to be over if Wellesley wins. The seven game series will continue Friday night in Tavistock at 7:30 p.m. if the Jacks don’t win on Wednesday. If they lose on Friday night too, game seven is on Saturday in Wellesley with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
The winner of the series will go on to play Ayr.