The Applejacks continued their winning streak on the road, racking up four more points over the weekend with wins over New Hamburg and Burford. There’s no time to rest on their laurels, however, as they’ve got a big weekend ahead of them.
Last weekend got off to a good start courtesy of a 3-0 win over the Firebirds in New Hamburg, with goalie Ryan Porter taking home the second star of the game after saving all 38 shots to give him his first shutout of the season.
“He made some big saves when the score was still 1-0, and that was the score going into the third period, so I thought Ryan had a really solid game. He had quite a few shots on him, some of them were in close and he really had to be sharp,” said Wellesley head coach Brad Gerber. “We are very happy with both of our goalies. They are both third-year players and I guess we put pressure on them, but we kind of expect that from them every night. They are both playing well for us.”
Wellesley’s Seamus Mooney scored the first goal of the game at 12:09 from Brady Gerber. That goal would be all they needed and the only movement on the scoreboard until the third period. In the meantime, there were a few penalties handed out in the close, hard-fought game.
“It’s a rivalry being so close I think,” said the coach. “The score was close Friday. We carried the play but I thought we just lost our flow at times when we got into penalty trouble, so hopefully it’s a lesson well learned.”
Mooney returned the favour and assisted Gerber 8 minutes into the third to get the team’s second of the game, and Shaun Pickering got an empty netter to finish things out just before the last minute of play .
The following night, the Jacks were in Burford to take on the seventh-place Bulldogs. The home team had little bark and no bite as Wellesley rolled to a 7-1 victory.
Burford’s Will Smith picked up the first goal of the game 10 minutes in from Nathaniel Thibodeau and Mitch Randell. But that was it. Wellesley’s Alex Uttley, from captain Spencer Brick, answered back at 12:04 and Trent Lamarche snagged his second goal of the season, from Zach Ribeiro and Kyle Soper, at the 16-minute mark to wrap up the first period’s tally at 2-1.
The second period saw Wellesley extend the lead with four quick goals – two from Uttley (both from Pickering), one from Soper (Rideiro, Lamarche) and Jordan Hoekstra (Uttley).
In the third, Lamarche potted his second of the game from Soper and Reade MacInnis to seal their fourth win in a row, all on the road as the Jacks have yet to play at home.
“That was a good night. We had 67 shots on their goalie; Burford’s goalie played really well and I think the biggest thing is that we stayed out of the penalty box. For the most part we were 5-on-5 and we try to tell our guys 5-on-5 in this league we can play with anybody,” Gerber said of the win.
Soper had another three-point game. The defenseman, who was brought over to the Applejacks from the Elmira Sugar Kings midway through last season, is currently tied with the second most points overall and assists in the South Doherty Division.
“We consider him one of our leaders. He is a guy that can definitely hurt you offensively, but he is also one of those guys that can play very well defensively without the puck and that is what we want,” said Gerber. “Good defense turns into good offence, that’s what we are harping right now and Kyle is one of the guys that we really lean on to be a leader and play that way for it and he has been very good at it so far. We are pleased.”
The team, who is currently in second place with a 4-1 record after losing only the first game of the season against Woodstock, will face off against Tavistock to see if they can keep up the streak – and hopefully knock the team out of first place.
“Going into Tavistock Friday night, yeah, they are 5-0 and they are off to a really, really good start. They are a good team,” he said. “We are looking forward to a challenge. It will be a good game and we can’t wait ‘til it gets here.”
Through their five victories, three on home ice, the Braves have scored 32 goals while allowing just 14. The Jacks’ numbers are 29 and six respectively, so Gerber is expecting a good game against their longtime rivals.
“They have scored a lot of goals. The biggest thing with them right now is that their power play is clipping along at about a 40 per cent rate, which is really, really high, so that’s about half of their goals have been scored on the power play,” he said. “So again, we have to stay out of the box and we want that flow of the game where we can keep going four lines on them and hopefully wear them down. If we play a patient game, take care of our end and our goaltending is strong, I am quite positive things will work out for us.”
Wellesley’s home-opener will be Saturday evening against Ayr.
“We are always excited about coming home. It would be nice to come home with a 5-1 record,” Gerber said. “And our fans – it’s not a very big barn, but we have a great following there and the boys love playing in front of a full house so we are all looking forward to it. We are excited.”