Facing the top and bottom teams in the league, the Wellesley Applejacks added a win and a loss to their record this weekend at home.
At home on Saturday night, the Jacks were unable to recover from Ayr’s four-goal lead and fell 6-2, but head coach Brad Gerber says they were pleased with how the team played.
“I thought we should have deserved a little bit better in that game. I thought our energy level and our work ethic was real good that night for most of the night. We worked hard and competed hard and that’s all that we can ask from the guys,” Gerber said.
Hudson Michaelis scored twice late in the first frame to give Ayr the lead. Damon Lemmon (2), Alex Mutton and Mitch Klie assisted.
Klie earned two of his own in the second to give the Centennials a comfortable 4-0 lead. Mutton, Michaelis and Connor MacLean were helpers.
Wellesley’s Alex Uttley, assisted by Shaun Pickering, put his team on the board with just 31 seconds left in the period.
Ayr continued to dominate in the final 20 minutes. While Colt Jaime was sitting out for a spearing penalty, Rob Grant scored on Wellesley net minder Ryan Porter. Eric Uba and Lemmon assisted.Cal Jefferies earned his own power play marker two minutes later, helped by Nick Palmer and Sean McEwan. Ayr finished the game with Klie earning a hat trick. Mutton and Micahelis earned assists.
Porter made 33 saves for Wellesley.
“I think our guys really enjoy playing them, I hope that we get a chance to meet them again and that’ll be in the playoffs and we can figure out how to beat that team. It’s going to take a lot of things to go right for us, but I do really believe our boys are up for the challenge and are excited about hopefully meeting them again in the playoffs,” Gerber said.
Wellesley followed up at home the next afternoon with a 12-3 win over the Delhi Travellers. They came out strong in the first, knocking back three goals, two from Uttley and one from Jordan Hoekstra on the power play. Pickering, Hoekstra, Lucas Spence, Kyle Soper (2), and Uttley assisted.
The Jacks increased to a 5-0 lead in the second period with goals from McEwan (Palmer, Spence) and Mark Lebold (Mario Alyas, Brenden Goran) before Delhi managed to score. Jared Misener was first on the board for Delhi, assisted by Garret Maier and Brody Hunt.
The rest of the second period saw back and forth play with both teams scoring twice more to head into the third period 7-3 for Wellesley. Soper and Hoekstra (Palmer, Jefferies, Uttley and Nick Mercier) scored for Wellesley, while Brody Martin and Misener (Brady Reid, Hunt and Maier) scored for Delhi.
“You can’t take anybody lightly so before the game we talked about making sure we play 60 minutes and a complete game, taking care of our end and making good decisions with the puck. I thought we did that against Delhi except for we had a bit of a lapse for probably 10 minutes in the second period and they scored their three goals,” Gerber said.
He says the players can’t take any shift off or they’ll get scored on.
Wellesley wasn’t about to let Delhi come any closer to winning, and put back five goals in the final period to finish the game. Applejacks goal scorers were Soper, Hoekstra, Jaime unassisted, Uttley and McEwan. Jefferies, Matt Dipaolo, Uttley, Pickering (2), Mercier (2) and Soper assisted.
Rhett Kimmell filled in goaltending duties for the Jacks and made 21 saves on 24 shots. Delhi split the game between goalies Liam Mullet and Sam Roy who each made 20 saves on 27 and 25 shots, respectively.
Gerber says they decided to rest Porter after the game against Ayr and their other goalie Ryan Hergott was away for a course for school.
“It’s good to get these young guys in one in awhile. They’re kind of the future. You have a look at them now when you can and see what they can show us,” Gerber said.
The Jacks also added two players – Kyle Soper and Garrett Schultz – ahead of the trade deadline last week. Soper comes from the team’s junior B affiliate, the Elmira Sugar Kings. Gerber says they’re happy with his play so far.
“He’s going to help us on defense and forward, wherever we need him to play. It’s not too often you get a player of his caliber to come in,” Gerber said.
The Jacks picked up Schultz last season but ended up trading him to Tavistock to bring in Pickering.
“He became available at the deadline and we reacquired him and we’re very excited to have him back, he’s one of those guys that’s very well liked in the dressing room and on and off the ice he works hard,” Schultz said.
It will be a busy weekend for the Wellesley team who plays three games in as many days. First, they’re off to Tavistock on Jan. 20 for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop against the Braves. They’re back home on Jan. 22 and 22 to face New Hamburg at 7:30 p.m. and Paris at 2 p.m. This will be their second last weekend of regular season play.
Gerber notes these are big points they need to stay in third place and maybe finish in second.
“I think they know what’s at stake here, I just hope we get the results. The bottom line is we need 60 minutes to win these games and if you have little breakdowns you don’t. I’m sure the guys will be ready.”