The third place Wellesley Applejacks are 1-1 in the first round of the Provincial Junior Hockey League playoffs.
Up against the sixth-place Woodstock Navy Vets in the first round, the Applejacks dominated in Game 1 on Feb. 3 with a final score of 6-2, but couldn’t get it together for Game 2 the following day, losing 5-3.
Starting the series at home Friday night, the Jacks got off to a quick start with a goal from Jordan Hoekstra, just 59 seconds in. Garrett Schultz quickly followed up with another marker, assisted by Mario Alyas. Woodstock got on the board with a goal from Justin Elms. Jacks’ forward Alex Uttley added to the tally with the team’s third goal in the first period.
The scoring didn’t stop there. Schultz and Colt Jaime both scored early in the second, bringing the score to 5-1. Woodstock’s Garrett Kirby managed to get the puck past goalie Ryan Hergott in the tail end of the power play, while Nathan Schlupp was in the box for interference.
There was only one goal in the third period, scored by Lucas Spence on the power play with help from Sean McEwan and Cal Jefferies.
Gerber says the team played the way they should be, especially in the post season.
“It is just the way we wanted to start the playoffs. I thought we played 60 minutes of hockey that night and we were in complete control for that whole game,” said Gerber. “It was a good one. We expect that in playoffs from our guys, and from them actually. Woodstock works hard and we expected that fast-paced game, but I thought we were in control most of the night. It went well for us.”
The Jacks travelled to Woodstock for Game 2, and this time, didn’t get the result they were looking for as the home team posted a 5-3 win.
The first period saw no scoring, but the Jacks started the second with a short-handed marker from Hoesktra. In response, Woodstock scored four in a row, three in the second period, and the fourth 12 minutes into the third.
McEwan upped Wellesley’s goal count, with an assist from Uttley, followed by a marker from Kyle Soper on the power play with less than a minute left in regulation time. It wasn’t enough, however. Woodstock’s Elms cemented the Navy Vets’ win with an empty-netter at 19:46 in the third.
Gerber says the game on Saturday was a definite challenge for the Jacks.
“We knew they were going to come out hard. I thought we weathered that storm pretty well in the first period, but our energy wasn’t as good as the night before. The first 20 minutes wasn’t too bad, but in the second period, I think we got away from some things. It is big ice down there, and I think we started to puck watch a bit too much and got lost in our own end. It hurt us, and that was the difference in the game,” he said. “I thought we played better in the third, but by that time, it was just too late.”
The team is returning back to home ice this weekend, to once again take on Woodstock in Game 3. On Friday night, the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. The team will then travel to Woodstock for Game 4 on Feb. 11. Making it three games in three days, the series will be brought back to Wellesley on Sunday for a matinee at 2 p.m.
The coach says he’ll be looking for his squad to get into the same mode as last Friday. He’ll also be focusing on special teams this week.
“As long as we do the little things that we talk about – getting the puck in deep, playing well without the puck – I think we will be fine,” he said. “We have to tap into that energy again and make sure that we outwork them. Our power play also needs to get a bit better too. It is that time in the season, and I know it sounds cliché, but special teams win games and win series. Our penalty kill is good, but our power play could definitely get a bit better.”