With August making way for September, and prime hockey season just around the corner, the Wellesley Applejacks are back on ice. Playing their first set of exhibition games of the season, the Jacks got the first opportunity of the year to test their chops in the arena.
It was a faulty start to the pre-season as the Jacks dropped their opening matchup against the rival New Hamburg Firebirds on August 24, 3-2. The game was followed by a second game against the visiting Wingham Ironmen on the 26th, which again saw the Jacks fall 3-2.
On the 29th, the Jacks suffered their third strike in a 5-2 game against the Mount Forest Patriots on away ice. Their fourth game, however, saw the Jacks coming together for a victory over Kincardine Bulldogs at the St. Clements arena.
Though far from the ideal outcome, the pre-season was all about putting the newly formed team through its paces, and preparing them for the gauntlet ahead.
“We had training camp last weekend, and thought it was a good effort,” said the Applejacks new head coach, Malcolm Hutt, after their first exhibition game. “The older guys came and they were competing the way that we wanted them to. And the young guys are all coming to camp and they’re competing as well.”
The New Hamburg game started slowly, with no scoring until the third period. Wellesley drew first blood, five minutes into the final stanza, with newcomer Will Martin (Nolan Hislop) opening the scoring.
The celebrations were short-lived as New Hamburg answered back a minute later to knot things up, and then followed up with two more goals before Wellesley could retaliate.
The score was 3-1 when new recruit Koby Seiling lobbed a second into the net, with Noah Giovinazzo picking up the assist.
Though the momentum was once again swinging to the Jacks, it was not enough to get them to back to a tie, and game ended in a 3-2 defeat.
Up next on Sunday, the Jacks welcomed visitors from the North Pollock Division, the Wingham Ironmen, to the St. Clements arena.
Wingham took the lead in the opening frame with the lone goal, putting them at the advantage for the first 20 minutes.
Entering into the second up 1-0, the Ironmen came out swinging with a power play goal just 1:25 in.
For the next 15 minutes, it remained a 2-0 game until Wellesley’s Zach Ribeiro (Tyler Schwindt, Ethan Januszkiewicz) answered with the Applejacks’ first of the match. New recruit Brendan Baker (Morgan Williams, Brett Hartin) potted a second at 17:20.
It was 2-2 tie with seconds to go in the middle frame when Wingham’s Rhus Vollmer came in for an unassisted tiebreaker.
Now up a point over the Jacks, the Ironmen would ride their lead all the way for the final 20 minutes of game time to secure the 3-2 win.
Their third match against the Mount Forest Patriots, August 29, saw the Jacks take a beating with a 2-5 defeat.
The two teams were on a near even footing in the first 20 minutes, with Mount Forest opening the scoring, and the Jacks responding after each one.
It was 1-0 to the Patriots when Wellesley’s Shaun Pickering came in for an unassisted play, locking the teams back 1-1.
Mount Forest again took the lead, and the Jacks’ Cole Stannix (Zach Ribeiro) responded with the knotting goal.
It was 2-2, and with one second left on the clock, the Patriots’ Michael Stefanelli put in his second unassisted marker into the net.
From the next two periods, it was all downhill, with the Patriots putting two more net before the end of the game.
The Jacks had their first taste of success on September 1 in a home game against the Kincardine Bulldogs.
Kincardine took the lead in the first five minutes, but Wellesley newcomers Tyler Schwindt (Danny Heath, James Ranson), responded on the power play. Kincardine returned the favour with another power play, but the Jacks’ came back for two more: Alex Uttley (Schwindt) at 12:47 and Ribeiro (Uttley, Pickering) on a second power play at 17:48.
The score was 3-2 to the Jacks heading into the second period. Kincardine opened the scoring in the second frame with two more goals, swiping the lead back in their favour before Schwindt (Uttley, Jordan Hoekstra) responded with the man advantage.
The game was dead even at 4-4 when the final frame rolled around, and it was Schwindt (Warren Gorman) who potted the game-winning goal at 6-minutes, ending the game with a slim 5-4 victory.
Four games in, the Jacks have two more matches, Saturday in Kincardine, followed by a Sunday rematch against New Hamburg at the St. Clements arena.