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Jacks on precipice after three one-goal losses

After taking a 1-0 lead in the second round of playoffs, the Wellesley Applejacks now find themselves with their backs against the wall, down 3-1 to the Paris Mounties.

The two teams met for Game 5 on Wednesday night in Paris, where the Mounties could take the series with a win and end Wellesley’s season. The score was not available before press time.

Reflecting on the team’s weekend play, head coach Brad Gerber said the Jacks put everything they had on the line for the first two games.

“I thought Friday night we played a good, solid game. We were quite pleased with the way we played. The shots indicated that we carried the play most of the night and it was just one of those nights where we couldn’t finish, score goals to win the hockey game. You can’t ask for much more from the guys, they gave a really good effort.”

Paris’ Connor Merritt, assisted by Brady Wheelans, put his team on the board in the first period. The Jacks couldn’t find the back of the net after another 20 minutes of play, but Paris pulled ahead 2-0 with an unassisted goal from Griffin Heitshu.

In the final frame, Brenden Goran, helped by Nick Mercier and Lucas Spence, earned the Jacks’ lone goal of the night, to finish on the wrong side of a 2-1 decision.

In Paris the next night, the Jacks lost a 3-2 heartbreaker that went into triple overtime.

“You could see the guys getting tired, but not once did they ever quit. I give the guys a lot of credit, that is a lot of hockey and intense hockey because of the situation.”

Benjamin Cripps (Jacob Norcott) started the scoring for Paris in the first.

Wellesley’s Alex Uttley (Spencer Brick) brought the score to 1-1 in the second, but a shorthanded unassisted goal from Brett Wilson put Paris back in the lead.

Not to be outdone, Brick posted his own goal 2 minutes later, assisted by Sean McEwan and Cal Jefferies.

Neither team could make the third period work for them and they headed to overtime, where the first team to score wins. It took until 15:01 in the third period of overtime to end the game when Wilson (Merritt) scored his second of the night.

Wellesley spent considerably less time out on penalties compared to Paris – 18 minutes versus 51 – but their power play didn’t secure them any goals.

“We talked about just playing the same way and we’ll get the results and I thought, again, we played a good, solid game. We had our chances to win that game many times and we didn’t. Obviously it went to three overtime periods. They’re working hard, they’re trying. I guess right now it’s just that we’re not finding a way to win, but they are, which is confusing and frustrating at the same time.”

Spencer Brick maneuvers his way over Paris’ goalie to get to the puck in the Applejacks’ 2-1 loss to the Mounties in Wellesley on Feb. 24. The Jacks were down 3-1 in the series heading into Wednesday night’s game in Paris. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

Back in Wellesley on Sunday night, the Jacks managed to push it to overtime, but fell 5-4.

Paris took a 3-0 lead with goals from Wheelans (Cripps, Corey Restoole) and Wilson in the first, and another from Wheelans (Wilson, Mitchell Harvey) early in the second before Shaun Pickering (Jordan Hoekstra, Uttley) put Wellesley on the board.

Brick added another goal for the Jacks, assisted by Jefferies two minutes later. Wheelans earned a hat trick assisted by Blake Culley on the power play to finish the first 40 minutes up 4-2.

Pickering and McEwan added to the Jacks’ tally late in the third, helped by Goran and Uttley, to take the game into overtime.

Wheelans added his fourth of the night, helped by Keegan Alvestad, to finish the game in Paris’ favour.

“Our first period wasn’t very good. You can blame it on what you want, that we played six periods the night before, but Paris did as well. There’s no excuse for that. We came out flat and Paris came out and got two quick goals on us.”

Game 6 would be in Wellesley on Mar. 4 at 7:30 p.m. If they win that too, Game 7 is in Paris on Mar. 5 at 4:30 p.m.

Gerber says it’s frustrating to lose three games in a row, especially two in overtime, but the coaching staff will be sure to remind the boys those games were only lost by one goal, and they’re still in this series.

“It’d be nice to get back to Wellesley for Saturday night. The crowds have been really good and the community’s been really supporting us well here. It’s only the end of February, beginning of March here, it’d be nice to continue and keep playing some hockey because the boys do love to play in Wellesley, that’s for sure.”

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