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Jacks take three of four points to stay atop their division

Wellesley’s Austin Cousineau struggles to keep control of the puck against a Woodstock Navy Vet during Sunday’s matinee, a 6-5 overtime loss. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Coming off a break of almost two weeks, the Wellesley Applejacks may have had a little bit of rust to shake off, though that didn’t apply to the goal-scoring, as they posted a 5-3 win over Ayr Friday night before falling 6-5 in overtime versus Woodstock.

“We got three out of four points on the weekend, so overall it was a pretty good weekend,” said assistant coach Brock Gerber. “We were still missing a couple of guys this weekend due to suspension.”

The three points helped the Jacks remain atop the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) South Doherty Division standings with 17 points (7-1-1-2), one point ahead of the Tavistock Braves (8-1) and the Navy Vets (8-4).

The Friday night game that saw the Ayr Centennials in town at the Wellesley arena started off uneventfully, but gradually became more competitive. It was the Centennials who drew first blood, an unassisted marker late in the frame at 17:04.

“We got off to a slow start in the first period after being off for two weeks,” said Gerber. “We played much better the second and third periods there on Friday night.”

The second stanza is when Wellesley found their footing; Owen Lane (Steve DeGroot) potted one early at 2:48. Shaun Pickering kept the momentum going at 5:19, with DeGroot and Gianfranco Commisso picking up the assists. The next goal came from Pickering (Keegan Saunders, DeGroot) at 16:02 to make it 3-1 after two periods of play.

The third frame was more evenly matched. Ayr potted one at 6:27; Wellesley’s Lane (Zachary Lyons) retaliated quickly at 7:53. Ayr took advantage of a power play at 14:23. The penalty count also skyrocketed in this period, with 15 doled out between the two teams.

In the dying minutes of the frame, the Centennials pulled their goalie to push for the equalizer, only to see the plan backfire when Zach Ribeiro (Pickering) fed the open cage at 18:52. That sealed the deal at 5-3.

Sunday afternoon’s game against the Woodstock Navy Vets was another seesaw effort, albeit one with a different ending.

“Woodstock was a close game, it was a back-and-forth,” said Gerber. “The outcome was a little disappointing, but we just have to keep working on getting better every day.”

The Navy Vets got onto the board almost instantly, scoring just 16 seconds in. They scored another on a power play at 5:27 before Wellesley’s Danny Ranson took advantage of a power play of their own later in the frame at 19:15. Assists went to Caskanette and Pickering. That made it 2-1 after one.

When play resumed after intermission, Woodstock once again scored first at 4:39 before Wellesley managed to pick up the slack. DeGroot (Commisso, Pickering) scored at 7:37, then Commisso scored a goal of his own shortly after at 7:59. Keeping up the momentum was Austin Cousineau, capitalizing on a power play at 10:45. Carson Wickie and J. Ranson picked up assists on the goal that gave Wellesley their first lead, 4-3

It was a former Applejack player Reade MacInnes who put the teams on equal footing again, scoring on the power play to make it 4-4 when the period came to an end.

In the third, Woodstock reclaimed the lead on a shorthanded goal at 1:16 before Wellesley’s Lane (Lyons, D. Ranson) retaliated at 9:42. The score remained 5-5 for the rest of the period, forcing the overtime frame. Woodstock drove the play, outshooting the Jacks 5-1 and ending the game with a goal at 6:55.

The Jacks sole game this weekend sees them on the road Friday night to face the Norwich Merchants. They’ll then have a week off before heading to Delhi on November 1, returning home the following day for a rematch with the Merchants.

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