The games have been close, but the Wellesley Applejacks find themselves down 2-0 to the Paris Mounties in the opening road of the PJHL playoffs.
The first game Saturday required overtime for Paris to take it 5-4, while the score was 4-3 the following day back in Wellesley.
Starting their playoff series with a game in Paris on Saturday night, the Jacks battled through a thrilling back-and-forth 60 minutes of play before falling in overtime.
The first period went scoreless, with Paris finding the back of the net at 6:57 of the second. Wellesley’s Ryan Sparkes got the team on the board from Zach Ribeiro at 7:47, followed by teammate Ribeiro with one of his own, from Sparkes and Trent Dundas at 10:20. Paris tied it up at 2-2 before the buzzer.
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The home team kept their momentum going in the third, with two more for the Mounties.
Wellesley wasn’t going down without a fight, however, with Alex Uttley beating the goalie at 11:52, assisted by Shaun Pickering and Dundas.With less than three minutes left in the third, Wellesley’s Jordan Hoekstra (Kyle Soper) scored to tie it up and send the teams into overtime.
After 13 minutes of extended play, Paris’ Tyler Kress scored the game-winner to put the home team one up over the Jacks in the series.
“We played a really good game for three periods. We had to come back – we were down by two late, and we tied it up. I thought we had a chance to win it in regulation and the beginning of overtime, but it didn’t work out. Pucks didn’t bounce our way. A tough loss in Paris, for sure,” said head coach Brad Gerber.
Looking to get back on track in Wellesley the following day, the Jacks faced a slew of obstacles, including a goal that was called back and some suspect officiating. The team couldn’t get any momentum, ultimately falling just short.
Paris started off the game with three goals, at 3:45, 8:46 and 13:09, giving the visiting team the early lead.
Uttley stepped up on the power play at 15:38 to put the team on the board, with help from Reade MacInnis, Hoekstra. It was 3-1 after 20 minutes.
The second period was rather slow for the home team, with Paris picking up a power-play goal to increase their lead to 4-1.
Enter the third period, and the game started to get interesting.
The Jacks appeared to make it 4-2 about seven minutes in, but the net was deemed to have come off its mooring, a late call overturning the goal. That would prove to be a big factor as the game went on.
Nonetheless, the refs waved off the goal and instead awarded Paris a delay of game penalty, sending the Jacks to the power play.
Taking that momentum, Hoekstra scored with the man advantage, assisted by Pickering and Uttley.
A final last-minute push saw Pickering (Mercier, Uttley) score with 40 seconds to go.
Although the team didn’t give up, they ultimately fell short and now trail the series 2-0.
However, both coaches and players are looking for a quick turnaround of luck. Wellesley has proven in the past they can find those wins against Paris both on the road and at home, it’s just a matter of finding that sweet spot.
“We gotta keep our heads up, keep battling, the series is long from over,” said Gerber.
Goalie Ryan Hergott, echoed that sentiment after Sunday’s game. “I know we are a good enough team to go far in the playoffs. I think that as long as we stick to our game plan and put a full game together, we will be alright. So, slow start, but it’s a long series.”
The Jacks play game three of the series in Paris Saturday night – a 7:30 p.m. start – and then return home for a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday afternoon.