It’s been a dizzying season for the Wellesley Applejacks, but the ride is now over. After climbing to new heights this year, claiming the top spot in the PJHL’s South Doherty Division, the team advanced to the Junior C league quarter-finals for the first time in franchise history. Ahead was the coveted Junior C trophy, the Schmalz Cup.
However, the Applejacks’ winning ways were finally dashed by their challengers, the Grimsby Peach Kings, in game six of the best-of-seven series.
Playing in three games this week, the Applejacks put up a fight, securing a win in game five but ultimately couldn’t best the Peach Kings.
Wellesley was already in a tight spot as they headed into the week’s games. Meeting for their fourth match of the series on home ice March 27, the Jacks were already down 2-1 to Grimsby. The two teams proved to be exceptionally close throughout the series, with a third of their games being settled in overtime, and the Jacks holding the Kings to a one-point difference in most games.
However, the Peach Kings edged out the home team in a tight 4-3 decision settled in overtime, on March 27. The Jacks would rally on Friday in game five of the series with a 2-1 OT victory in Grimsby.
Now on the shorter side of a 3-2 record, the Jacks were just a loss away from elimination as they headed into game six at the Wellesley arena. Playing to a packed audience at Sunday’s matinee, the Jacks kept it a one-point game until the final three minutes of the match before falling 3-0 to the visitors, putting a definitive end to the team’s season.
The Sunday match proved to be anyone’s game, as both teams struggled to put markers up on the board throughout the 60 minutes. The first frame ended scoreless for both teams, while the second saw just a single dinger: coming off the stick of Peach Kings’ Maxim Ljuboja, the goal would ultimately prove to be the game winner.
While the scoreboards were light on action, the penalty box was anything but as both teams put in their all to secure the win. Wellesley was slapped with a head-contact infraction in the first six minutes of play, while also getting hit with some spearing and cross-checking.
The Peach Kings didn’t hold back either, earning a head contact, several boarding, hooking, roughing and tripping infractions of their own. By the end of the game, both teams had accumulated a total of nine man-advantages each, though followed through on none.
The scoreboard would remain virtually frozen in place until the dying minutes of the third. With the Jacks pushing the offensive to knot the game, the Peach Kings would manage to score a second time at 17:34, just two-and-a-half minutes from the end of the game.
A final empty-netter would seal the Jacks’ fate, ending the game, and the Wellesley Applejacks’ season with it.
With the Jacks down for the count, the Grimsby Peach Kings will be advancing to the Schmalz Cup semi-finals to face the Exeter Hawks. The Napanee Raiders, meanwhile, will be set to face the Alliston Hornets in semi-finals of the series.