The Wellesley Applejacks started the weekend on a high note, running away with the game 8-0 in Norwich Friday night, before falling 3-1 to the Mounties in Paris the following night.
The Jack’s didn’t hold back in Norwich November 24, with one of Wellesley’s newest arrivals, Nathan Smith, opening up scoring less than two minutes in, assisted by Nathan Schlupp and Trent Dundas.
“He is a big addition, not only in offensive abilities but he is also very good without the puck. He is a very reliable player, so we are very happy to have him,” said head coach Brad Gerber, of Smith.
Alex Uttley scored the first of his two, from Kyle Fischer, just after the 10-minute mark, and followed with an unassisted goal at 13:06 to close out the period.
In the second, it was Kyle Soper, with an unassisted goal at 9:05, and Shaun Pickering at 11:43 from Uttley, who provided the scoring for the visiting team. It was 5-0 after 40 minutes.
Trent Lamarche got his first of the game at 2:51 of the third from Brady Gerber and Reade MacInnis. That goal was followed by one from Spencer Brick (Pickering and Uttley) at 4:10.
Pickering got his second goal of the game on the power play from Uttley and Brick at 16:01 to put a cap on the win.
And goalie Ryan Hergott saved all 34 shots, to get his second shutout of the season.
Touching the puck on near every goal, Uttley ended the game with a solid five points.
“Ever since he has come to Wellesley, he has been that guy that gets points for us. He is a real leader – he is good without the puck and is just a real reliable guy,” said Gerber. “We are hoping that we can keep this going here.”
Now midway through the regular season, the eight goal win is an indication the team is gelling.
“I think we are starting to come along now. We are playing more as a team rather than individuals,” said Soper, who secured two goals in the game, noting the positive presence of veteran guys such as Pickering returning to the roster.
In the same vein of veteran players, the Jacks have added two new prior junior B players, acquiring Ryan Sparkes from the Guelph Hurricanes and Smith, who previously played for the Stratford Warriors.
“I think this is the first time that we have really had our full lineup,” explained Gerber of the success in Norwich. “With Nathan Smith and Ryan Sparks in the lineup this was really the first time we iced the lineup that we want to have and you know it makes a difference.
“Our four lines just kept going at them and the guys played with a lot of confidence. They had lots of jump straight from the get-go – we played a solid 60 minutes.”
The jubilation was somewhat short-lived, however, as the team suffered a tough loss in Paris just 24 hours later.
Paris scored one in the first, and another in the second on the power play before netting their last at five minutes into the third, unanswered until Wellesley’s Zach Ribeiro scored what would be their only goal at 14:07, with Soper picking up an assist.
“It was a very tough loss. I mean it was a four-point game – we are right behind them in the standings. They knew how important it was as much as we did, I just didn’t think that we had the jump we had from the night before,” Gerber said, mentioning a few injured players out from the prior game who would have helped to bring the same intensity seen the night before. “When things aren’t quite going our way we have to find a way to fight through that adversity and play 60 minutes.”
With a busy weekend on tap, the Jacks will have plenty of opportunities to test their mettle. Starting the weekend with a home-and-home series against the Braves – Friday night in Tavistock, Saturday in Wellesley – the Jacks round things out with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday at home against the Norwich Merchants, who may be looking for a little revenge.
“We haven’t played Tavistock since probably late September, so we are excited to see them again,” Gerber said. “It is going to be another challenge this weekend, but that’s how it is in this league.”
Saturday’s game features the annual Teddy Bear Toss, and the Jacks are asking fans to bring a new teddy bear and/or a pair of new socks, placing items in a clear plastic bag before throwing the bags onto the ice when the Jacks score their first goal. Any minor hockey players from Twin Centre that wears a jersey and brings a bagged teddy bear or pair of socks will get in free.
Immediately following the home game verses Norwich on Sunday, there will be a live auction of last year’s retired game-worn jerseys.