A pair of wins last weekend saw the Wellesley Applejacks jump a notch in the PJHL standings to claim second place in the South Doherty Division.
The four points came the expense of the Burford Bulldogs on November 8, followed by a 5-2 victory over the division-leading Tavistock Braves on Sunday.
With the wins, aided by the return of the team’s starting goaltender, the Jacks (11-1-1-3) are just one point behind Tavistock (13-2-1-0).
“Kailem Chappelle played both games on the weekend – he played well, for sure,” said team president Terry Brick, referring to the goaltender who’d been out several games due to injury.
In last Friday’s game, the Jacks scored early and often to cruise to a 10-2 victory. Carson Wickie drew first blood quickly at 1:42, with Warren Gorman and James Ranson picking up assists. Zach Ribeiro (Matt Caskanette, Danny Ranson) took advantage of a power play at 10:17 to make it 2-0. Gianfranco Commisso (Troy Vandenbussche, Shaun Pickering) also made the most of the one-man advantage, keeping up the momentum at 17:40. Danny Ranson finished off the period right as the first buzzer sounded, potting one at 20 minutes in. The assist went to Brendan Baker.
It was 4-0 after the first period of play.
The second stanza had a similar tone: a nonstop scoring frenzy on the Applejacks’ side. Wellesley’s Zachary Lyons scored early at 1:26, with Connor Bradley and Ribeiro grabbing the assists. D. Ranson (Lyons) followed up at 2:07. Commisso (Steven DeGroot) continued the streak not only at 3:59 but with another unassisted, shorthanded marker at 9:18. Wickie (Vandenbussche) kept the ball rolling at 11:58, while Baker (Commisso) potted the final Applejacks goal of the night at 17:17.
With the score now 10-0, the floundering Bulldogs finally found their footing at 19:47, getting on the board with a power-play goal. This frame was notable for its high tension – 14 penalties were doled out collectively between the two teams, particularly during one action-packed fight involving team captain Shaun Pickering.
“The hard part about Burford was the players that were suspended, they weren’t going to play against Tavistock on Sunday,” said Brick. “Unfortunately, our captain learned the hard way.
“He went to remove the helmet, and that’s a gross misconduct and results in suspension. Sunday he didn’t play against Tavi, which wasn’t what he wanted, but he didn’t realize what he’d done until after the fact.”
The suspension lasted throughout the weekend – Pickering will be back on the ice for game action this coming weekend. Overall, the Applejacks brought a rougher game to the table, serving 43 minutes (14 infractions) of time in the penalty box compared to Burford’s 23 (9).
The third period saw little action, save for a lone goal by Burford at 5:45. When all the dust had settled, the scoreboard showed a 10-2 win for the Applejacks.
While the play many not have been as one-sided, Sunday’s game against Tavistock saw similar results. The opening period saw little in the way of action, and no scoring as the teams seemed to be feeling each other out.
It was a different story later in the second, however, as Lyons broke the deadlock while shorthanded at 13:18. Assists went to J. Ranson and Ribeiro. DeGroot (Lyons, Bradley) kept the momentum going at 15:37. Less than a minute later, Ribeiro (J. Ranson, Lyons) potted a goal of his own at 16:23 while shorthanded, rapidly increasing the score in Wellesley’s favour within a matter of minutes.
Down 3-0, Tavistock finally retaliated at 17:19 on a power play, then once again just before the second buzzer sounded at 19:46 to make it a one-goal game with 20 minutes to go.
Wellesley dominated the third, however, outshooting the Braves for the first time and putting up the periods only goals: Vandenbussche (Austin Cousineau, Owen Lane) at 12:44, followed by an unassisted DeGroot at 15:32.
The final buzzer went with the score 5-2 in Wellesley favour. Shots were 42-30 in favour of the Braves.
“The guys are very happy with it, and so are the rest of us. It was very well attended – our best attendance of the year, so that helps us,” said Brick of Sunday’s home game. Attendance was pegged at 263.
A rematch with the top team is not too far off, as the Applejacks will look to take the top spot on home ice during this Saturday’s game, part of a busy weekend that sees the team playing three games in as many nights.
The Jacks head to North Dumfries to play the Ayr Centennials on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., then travel to Woodstock to challenge the Navy Vets the following night (Nov. 15). The home-ice game is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday.