The Wellesley Applejacks got off to a good start in the second round of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over Paris on Tuesday night.
The squad advanced by defeating the Woodstock Navy Vets in six games in the opening round of the playoffs in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Doherty Division.
Wellesley moved on in style last Friday night, ending the series with a decisive 6-3 victory in Woodstock – just the comeback the team needed.
“Going down there after that overtime loss at home, we definitely didn’t want to have to play a game seven back in Wellesley, so we are quite pleased with how they came out. We played a really solid first period, and took them out of the game,” said head coach Brad Gerber. “They had a bit of a burst in the second period there, and they got the lead on us a couple of times, actually, but the third period, we are very pleased with the way we finished the game. We did what we had to, to finish the series.”
Scoring started on the power play from Brenden Goran, assisted by Mark Lebold. Woodstock took the lead with back-to-back goals from Austin Sine to open the second period, but the Jacks brought it back to a tie with another power play marker, this time from Alex Uttley with help from Kyle Soper.
Woodstock pulled ahead, but only for a few minutes with a goal from Austin Richardson. Wellesley’s Goran scored his second of the game to bring the game back to even.
To make it a hat trick, Goran got the puck past Woodstock goalie Mike Harrison on the power play, putting Wellesley back in the lead. They would stay ahead for the rest of the game, with two more goals, the first unassisted from Jordan Hoekstra and the second from Brady Gerber.
“We knew going into the series that Woodstock was going to be a tough team. Even though they finished lower than us in the standings, they work hard and they skate well. They are also coached well and I give that team a lot of credit,” said Gerber. “They play tough in their own rink and we had to be on our best every game. Nothing came easy for us, and I am glad that the guys just managed to play through. They played through some adversity, some injuries, and overall, I give Woodstock a lot of credit, but I am glad we are moving on.”
The pressure is back on, however, now that Wellesley is up against the Mounties. Paris has home ice advantage for the series with four of seven games on their home ice, and ahead of Tuesday’s game, Gerber said the goal was to make sure to win at least one game on the road. They won Game 1, and now, the team will be heading back home for a 7:30 p.m. start in Wellesley on Feb. 24.
Gerber says they can’t take their foot off the gas pedal, though.
“They are fast, they have guys that will hurt you if you make mistakes. We have to be careful about what we do with and without the puck. You can’t turn the puck over in bad places against them,” he said. “Paris’ transition game is very good. They jump on you with three on twos and two on ones. We just have to execute with and without the puck.”
With such a tight schedule, the Jacks don’t have time to get too many practices in between games. Gerber says they don’t have much they need to practice, though – just a couple of little things.
“You only have two weeks to finish a series, and if it goes to seven games that is pretty much every other day,” he said. “But, it is the time of year that whoever makes the least mistakes gets it done. Those teams that are keeping mistakes to a minimum, those are the teams that are going to win.”