The Wellesley Applejacks scored 15 goals in a pair of games last week, earning themselves the four points they were looking for. While the team was up against it in posting a one-goal win against New Hamburg, they skated away with things in the Burford game, a 10-3 victory.
Facing New Hamburg Oct. 14, the Jacks were trailing behind after the first, and managed to pull ahead with a lead of 4-2 going into the third. The Firebirds tied it up in the final frame, pushing overtime. Wellesley took back the game with a goal from Nick Mercier just under three minutes into the period, winning the game 5-4.
Head coach Brad Gerber says the guys were really good about coming back from a two-goal deficit against New Hamburg, but they should have kept the lead in the third.
“I actually thought we started out a bit slow, but I give the guys lots of credit. We fought back and we tied the game up and eventually took the lead late in the game. We had the lead 4-2, and unfortunately, we lost that, they came back to score two goals and tie it up, but I give our guys all the credit for getting in there and finishing the game off in overtime,” he said. “At the same time we have to learn to play with the lead a little bit and go with it, but New Hamburg is a good team and they are going to hammer their goals too and I am just glad the guys stayed focused enough to get the winning goal in overtime.”
The Jacks learned from Friday night’s game and put all their effort into a big win against Burford on Saturday night. The team hosted the Bulldogs at home, and it was a blowout finish. After the first, the game was tied 1-1, with Burford giving the team a run for their money, but eventually, they slowed down while Wellesley ramped it up.
In the second period, the Jacks scored three more to Burford’s one, and in the third, managed to get six more past Burford’s goalie, while the Bulldogs got only one more between the posts. The final score was 10-3.
Gerber was happy to see the guys gain the lead, and this time, keep it until the end.
“I think we put the game away. That is what we have been talking about, in the third period just finishing teams off. Not giving up the lead and just finishing strong,” he said after the Jacks’ winning weekend. “I thought the guys did a really good job in the third period, scoring six more goals, but I also think that going with four lines that keep coming at these teams that by the third period we can wear them down a little bit. If we can stay out of the penalty box and rotate four lines through, by the third period, that is what happened on Saturday night. I think Burford were a bit tired in the third.”
For Gerber, this weekend wasn’t just a win on the scoreboard, but also with the guys taking coach advice onto the ice. One thing the team has been working on is limiting their time in the penalty box.
“That has been a big issue with us. We have been taking way too many penalties, especially penalties after the whistle. We are definitely trying to talk to the guys about it and they are doing a good job. They are slowly becoming a lot more disciplined, just focusing on the task at hand, which is always getting two points and staying focused,” he said.
The guys have also been pushing themselves to get the puck to the net, with more shots on goal and more scoring chances than they have created in the past.
“We have been working on a lot of transitions in practice – getting the puck and moving up quick before the other team gets ready, and just shooting the puck. Good things happen and it’s an old cliché, but if you don’t shoot the puck, you aren’t going to score,” said Gerber, adding that there was still work to be done. “I think we are starting to shoot more, but at the same time, we are still missing the net a lot. It is something that we are going to keep working on and getting the puck to the net.”
Next up for the Jacks, a matchup with the Ayr Centennials, the top team in the division. Gerber says as the number two team, Wellesley is looking to show that they are competitive at the top of the standings.
“We played them earlier this season in Ayr and they beat us in overtime. I think the guys are excited,” he said. “Right now, we are sitting in second place behind Ayr and I think the guys are excited about getting another shot at them and proving that we can play along with them. We are looking forward to it.”
As they prep to face off against Ayr on Saturday night at home, Gerber couldn’t say enough about how the Jacks gel together on the ice.
“Definitely the way we came back and won that game on Friday night, that was definitely a team effort. And on Saturday night, it was a four line, six defensemen, goaltending team effort, especially with the way we finished up in the third,” he said. “That is one of the things we like about our team. We use all four lines, and all four lines can score. In the long run, that is a really good thing for our team. It is rare.”
The puck drops against the Centennials at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22. The team will be heading to Paris for a 4:30 p.m. game on Sunday.