As things tighten up in the PJHL’s South Doherty Division, an overtime loss was enough to drop the Wellesley Applejacks from first to third place. Friday night’s 5-4 decision in favour of the Norwich Merchants was the Jacks’ sole action of the weekend, providing some room for their nearest competitors.
With a record of 7-1-1-3, Wellesley’s 18 points trails first-place Tavistock (10-1) and Woodstock (9-4), the first time the Jacks have been out of the top spot this season.
“It was a tough loss,” said club president Terry Brick. “We didn’t play as well as we should have.
“Woodstock is right there with us … we lost to them last week on Sunday in overtime,” he added. “Most of the teams are pretty close – there’s not a big difference between the top and the bottom.”
During the Oct. 25 match, it was the Merchants who drew first blood, unassisted at 10:08.
Wellesley was quick to retaliate, courtesy of Daniel McCutcheon (Owen Lane) at 10:58. Norwich stayed ahead, however, potting one more before the buzzer sounded to make it 2-1.
The Merchants continued to push ahead after the intermission, scoring quickly at 1:36. Wellesley wasn’t about to go down without a fight, however, with Austin Cousineau (James Ranson) responding at 2:24. Carson Wickie kept up the momentum at 6:36. Brendan Baker picked up the assist to make it a tie game at 3-3 after two periods of play.
The close battle saw tensions running high when the teams got back on the ice for the third period, with the officials seeing plenty of action and the penalty box plenty of company courtesy of the nine minors doled out.
Back on the ice, it was Norwich that broke the deadlock with a goal at 5:15, though that situation was short-lived as Wellesley’s Eric Vander Eyk returned the favour at 7:05, assisted by Shaun Pickering and Matt Caskanette, to make it 5-5.
Neither side was able to do anything about the tie for the remainder of the frame, so it was off to OT. Well, at least for a little while, as the Merchants needed just 48 seconds to settle the matter.
The finally shot tally – 48-45 for the home side – was indicative of the night’s play.
Now, the Jacks look to get back on track this weekend. On the road in Delhi Friday night to face the travellers, they return home Saturday for a rematch with the Merchants. Game time both nights is 8 p.m.
“We’re going to be working on getting back in first place – that’ll be the big thing we want,” said Brick.