The Wellesley Applejacks kept their third-place spot in the conference standings after a win and a loss last weekend, coming out on both ends of 3-2 decisions to New Hamburg and Tavistock.
On Friday, the Jacks faced off against the New Hamburg Firebirds . The game got off to a slow start for Wellesley, finishing out the second period three-nil. The third showed some promise, but the Jacks just couldn’t get the numbers they needed before the final buzzer. For just a moment, the Firebirds overtook the Jacks in the conference standings, bumping them down to fourth place.
“It was a good close game. I mean, we are both battling for a position in the standings, and New Hamburg actually jumped ahead of us that night, but we gained it back on Sunday,” said head coach Brad Gerber. “Finally in the third period, we kept the game simple, we started getting pucks to the net, and we got rewarded for it. If we would have had one more minute on the clock, we would have tied that up. We were really coming on strong in the end, and unfortunately we ran out of time. It just goes to show that you have to play well for 60 minutes.”
Wellesley’s two goals came from Nick Palmer, unassisted, and Jordan Hoekstra, assisted by Alex Uttley and Brenden Goran.
“The first two periods, I thought the effort was there. We played hard and with a lot of energy, but sometimes you use the sticks a little too much, you try too hard and you don’t keep the game simple. In the third we just started getting pucks to the net and things starts to work out. It was just one of those nights when the effort was there, but the results weren’t. That is the way it goes,” explained Gerber.
Sunday afternoon was a different story. It was a high-energy game with plenty of penalties. The Jacks came out on top by a score of 3-2 against the Tavistock Braves. Playing on home ice, the guys spent a total of 75 minutes in the penalty box, giving Tavistock 14 powerplays – they were able to capitalize on two.
“It was a scrappy game. The referee came out and he made it clear that he was going to call absolutely everything and he did. Both teams spent a lot of time in the box. We spent more than they did and some of our penalties were very deserving and others, some nights they get called and some nights they don’t,” said Gerber. “You just have to play through that as a team and you have to know how the game is being officiated and go with that, but we did spend a lot of time in the box. That really takes the flow out of the game and we like to play four lines when we can.”
Gerber hopes the guys will avoid the penalty kill in coming matchups.
“Five-on-five we are a great team. We spent a lot of energy killing penalties and we don’t like to do that. Both of their goals were on the powerplay for them, but five-on-five, they weren’t getting many chances on us, which is good to see,” he said.
With Sunday’s win, the Jacks are back in third place behind Ayr and Paris. With only 12 games left in the regular season, the team hopes to maintain their spot, or even kick one of the top two teams to lower on the list. Only three of the remaining games are on the road.
This weekend, Wellesley is hosting the Delhi Travellers and the Woodstock Navy Vets. Delhi has yet to win a single game this year, but Gerber isn’t counting them out.
“I’ll tell you about Delhi, the last couple of weeks, some teams have gone down there and won by just one goal, so you have to show up to play and if you don’t show up then you aren’t going to win. Anybody can beat anybody. It is one of those things that you can’t take any team too lightly,” he said. “I give them a lot of credit. It has got to be hard. We lost two or three in a row, and even after that it is tough. I can’t even imagine not winning yet.”
The puck drops against Delhi at 7:30 p.m. in Wellesley on Dec. 17, and against Woodstock at 2 p.m. on Dec. 18.