The first weekend of 2018 was a good one for the Wellesley Applejacks, who outscored the opposition 15-3 over the course of a pair of games.
After dispatching Delhi 8-1 on January 5, the Jacks skated to a 7-2 victory over Burford on Sunday afternoon.
Friday night’s game saw the Jacks run their season record to 4-0 over the woeful Delhi Travellers, who have yet to win a game this season. Their record of 0-32 finds them at the bottom of the standings in the Provincial Junior Hockey League, though with a few others for company.
Delhi’s latest sequence of setbacks started when Wellesley captain Spencer Brick opened up scoring at 5:37 of the first, from Reade MacInnis and Alex Uttley. Nathan Smith potted another, from Zach Ribeiro and Ryan Sparkes, at 10:01 to make it 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Things only got worse for Delhi, however, as the Jacks racked up another five unanswered goals in the middle frame.
Uttley scored on the power play at just 54 seconds into the second from Nick Mercier and new acquisition Mackenzie Aiken.
Trent Lamarche scored at 4:30, from Keegan Saunders and Aiken. Smith got on the board from Ribeiro and Saunders at 11:03. And Uttley potted his second goal of the game from Aiken and Garrett Schultz at 13:08.
Uttley would be the only Jack to score more than once for the team, a feat head coach Brad Gerber is happy to see.
“In the playoff stretch you want all four lines going like that, so it’s great to see all four lines contributing. Hopefully we can keep that up going into playoffs,” he said.
Saunders would get one of his own before the end of the second, from Mercier and Ribeiro to bring the lead to 7-0.
The Travellers ended goalie Ryan Porter’s hopes for a shutout just 25 seconds into the third period, the only one of the 17 shots to elude him.
Ribeiro got one of his own from Brady Gerber at 4:29, to cap off the scoring at 8-1.
Still keen on denting the twine, the Jacks kept that up as the Burford Bulldogs rolled into the Wellesley arena.
A Sunday matinee game saw the home team show off their scoring skills during their fifth meeting with Burford, another team the Jacks have found success with; Wellesley has gone 5-0 against the team in their last five meetings.
Shaun Pickering scored the first of the game for the Jacks from Brick and Uttley at 6:27. Brick (MacInnis, Pickering) got his first of the game on the power play at 14:24.
Just 20 seconds later, however, Burford got one of their own to end the period 2-1 in favour of the Jacks.
As with the previous game, the second period belonged to the home team. At 5:14, Brick potted his second of the game from Uttley and Mercier. And just 30 seconds letter scored his third to get the hatty, with Pickering getting an assist.
“It’s great to see your leader step up and lead the way,” said Gerber of the captain’s first hat trick of the season. “Spencer’s got a great shot, and we have been telling him to use it. Two of Spencer’s goals were just shots that no goalie in the league is going to stop.”
Reade MacInnis scored his first of the game from Lamarche at 9:44, and both teams would hold the score until the buzzer.
Wellesley’s Keegan Saunders got one of his own from Smith, Nolan Hislop at 11:05 into the third before Burford answered just two minutes later. By then, however, it was much too late for any kind of comeback, any thought of which was quashed a few minutes later when Aiken (MacInnis, Sparkes) scored at 13:48 to give the Jacks the 7-2 lead that would last until the buzzer sounded.
Sporting number 5 for the Jacks, the 18-year-old forward coming from the Guelph Hurricanes has proved to be an excellent addition to the team. Aiken would end his first weekend as a Jack with a goal and three assists.
“He is a guy that is going to be around for a few years. He is a big, strong boy. He’s got a great shot and brings some toughness to us, so we are very excited to have him in our line up that’s for sure,” said Gerber.
With only six games left in the regular season, Wellesley is currently sitting in the middle of the South Doherty Division standings.
“The biggest thing right now with the last six games is just to play the game the right way – getting the pucks in, getting our forecheck going, just playing the systems that we have been talking about all year,” said Gerber. “I think we are turning the corner and we are pretty excited about the end of the season here.”
In addition to the fast-approaching playoffs, the league has just reached their trade deadline. The team shuffled a few players throughout the season, and Gerber says they are confident in the squad they are bringing to the playoffs.
“We are always looking to get a little stronger, but right now we are pretty happy with what we have. If somebody comes along, that’s great, and if not you know, we are happy going into the playoffs with this lineup.”
The team heads to Delhi Friday for a 7:30 p.m. start, before returning home Saturday night to face off against Woodstock, again at 7:30 p.m.