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Jacks in the driver’s seat in playoff series against Braves

The Applejacks picked up another win (4-1) against the top team of the division at the Tavistock arena on Sunday. With a win Tuesday, Wellesley is up 3-1 in the series. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

The Applejacks took a 3-1 lead in their second-round PJHL playoff series with a 4-2 win Tuesday night in Wellesley over the Tavistock Braves.

The Jacks had a chance to clinch in game five Wednesday night, but results weren’t available before press time.

The South Doherty Division series got underway March 6 in Tavistock, with Wellesley coming out on the winning end of a triple-overtime war of attrition that ended 3-2. Only one extra frame was needed on Saturday night, as the Braves came back with a 5-4 win. Sunday’s 4-1 Wellesley victory put the Jacks ahead once again.

Opening the series last week, Shaun Pickering drew first blood at 13:16, with Alex Uttley and Warren Gorman picking up assists. This would be the lone goal of the frame, giving the Jacks a slight advantage headed into the second stanza.

The Braves found their footing in this period, scoring at 7:38, with Wellesley not getting the chance to respond until the final frame. Wellesley’s Zach Ribeiro regained the Jacks lead early on at 1:36, only to see Tavistock retaliate at 12:52. This put both teams head-to-head in a fierce overtime battle that kept getting extended.

There would be no scoring for the first two overtime rounds – the Jacks and Braves even managed to keep things civil during these intense game, with no penalties on either side. It would be Uttley (Pickering) who would finally break the standoff in the third round of overtime, finally securing the Jacks’ 3-2 victory.

Saturday’s Wellesley arena game saw another battle that dipped into overtime, with the win this time around going to the Braves.

Tavistock wasted little time getting on the board, potting one at 2:44. Wellesley was quick to respond with Ribeiro (Kyle Soper, Reade MacInnes) taking advantage of a power play. But the frame ultimately went to the Braves when they scored shorthanded with under 15 second left to go at 19:47.

The second stanza was their most action-packed frame thus far, with more penalties and goals than the previous rounds. Tavistock’s Josh Helgerman kicked things off with two consecutive goals, with the first unassisted at 4:40 followed by another at 8:38.

Wellesley retaliated with even more force, with Uttley (Daniel Tsiampas) scoring shorthanded at 9:53. Gorman followed up with an unassisted, shorthanded goal at 16:06, then Uttley potted another for good measure with a single second left to go in the period. This made the game a dead-even 3-3 – the usually civil teams racked up a collective five penalties in this frame.

The third period saw little action, with zero scoring but Tavistock coming close with Helgerman attempting an unsuccessful penalty shot. This brought the match into overtime once again, though this time the victory went to the Braves, finally obtaining the 5-4 win at 16:02.

Sunday’s game on away ice was considerably less even, with Wellesley gaining the lead in the second period that they never relinquished. Things started off tense but uneventful, with no scoring in the first frame.

Soper drew first blood, taking advantage of a power play at 4:15. Pickering picked up the assist. Zachary Lyons followed up at 11:13, with assists going to Ribeiro and Danny Ranson. This gave the Jacks a comfortable 2-0 lead going into third.

Tavistock finally got the chance to respond at 4:13, but it was a shortlived win. Ribeiro (Lyons) potted one at 17:53. In a last-ditch effort to take back the game, Tavistock pulled their goalie with 1:25 left in the game. This strategy backfired however, making the empty net easy pickings for MacInnes at 18:58. The final goal secured a 4-1 win for the Jacks.

Tuesday night again belonged to the Jacks, though it was a close, seesaw affair until the final minute.

Lyons got things rolling, putting the home team up at 7:59 of the first period, with help from Ranson and Ribeiro. Tavistock tied it up, however, with just over three minutes to go in the opening period. As with the score, shots were even at ten apiece.

Wellesley made it 2-1 in short order when play resumed in the second, with Uttley (Pickering, Soper) scoring at 1:09. Less than two minutes later, however, the game was tied again. Wellesley wasn’t having it, as MacInnis restored the lead on a power play at 4:47, assisted by Uttley and Pickering. There would be no more scoring, though the visitors outshot their hosts 15-11.

Down by one, the Braves were unable to muster any real pressure in the final 20 minutes, registering no shots on net. The Jacks, meanwhile, put 11 on the Tavistock side, including an empty-netter that would seal a 4-2 victory at 19:26.

The teams were in Tavistock Wednesday night. If game six is needed, the action resumes Friday night at the Wellesley arena. Game seven would go Saturday night in Tavistock.

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