The Wellesley Applejacks posted another pair of wins over the weekend, helping them hang on to a one-point lead atop the PJHL’s South Doherty Division standings. It’s been something of a seesaw battle with the Tavistock Braves, who have a game in hand.
At home for the weekend, the Jacks emerged victorious Friday against the Paris Mounties by a score of 4-2, then skated to a 5-2 win over the Woodstock Navy Vets the following night.
“You pretty much have to win all your games to stay in the first-place position. It’s that close,” said club president Terry Brick, citing the Navy Vets as a team that dropped significantly after just one weekend.
“Woodstock lost to Tavi, then lost to us. … They were tied for second and third for quite a while, and now they’re five or six points out all of a sudden.”
While the final score Friday night against Paris may have looked like a comfortable margin for Wellesley, Brick said the game was much more unpredictable than it appeared to be.
“It was close. Paris scored first so that set the tone a bit,” said Brick. “They were taking it to us pretty good – they are a lot better as a team than you think.”
The Mounties drew first blood almost instantly, just 44 seconds in. Wellesley’s Owen Lane (Zach Ribeiro, Zachary Lyons) replied later in the frame at 9:10. Shaun Pickering followed up at 11:24, taking advantage of a power play and gaining a lead that they would never relinquish. Austin Cousineau and Troy Vandenboussche picked up assists. It was 2-1 for the home team after one.
James Ranson (Brendan Baker, Carson Wickie) kept the momentum going in the second stanza at 11:28, before Paris came back with a penalty shot goal at 14:42. That sent Wellesley into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead.
Brick said that the third period saw Paris really bring the heat to Wellesley, pulling their goalie for an extra attacker in the dying minutes of the frame, and outshooting the Applejacks 19-6. But it was the Jacks who made their shots count – team captain Pickering (Cousineau) scored the final goal at 10:27, sealing a 4-2 win for the Applejacks.
The final shot tally was 43-20 in favour of the team that travelled back to Paris empty-handed.
“We talked about it we decide stars in the game and we’re looking around and thought no one really stood out. So who’s the star? Then our captain Pickering stepped up, scored the fourth goal in the third period when we were being heavily outplayed – that was his second goal of the game,” said Brick.
“He came out with some ferocity, I’ll call it, pushed around some people, then all of a sudden he stood out to us more and he was first star. He went on to have a good night Saturday night where he had some points and was hustling and he got second star Saturday night. Our captain showed the guys the way on the weekend, played well.”
Saturday night’s game against the Woodstock Navy Vets looked like another close affair, at least in the early going before Jacks got rolling. The visitors scored first and outshot their hosts in the opening frame, but that would be as close as things would get.
“We capitalized on our chances a lot more than they did,” said Brick, of the Woodstock game.
It was the Navy Vets who got on the scoreboard first at 5:15. But Baker managed to retaliate unassisted at 12:53. Gorman then gave his team the lead at 14:48, also unassisted, as it was 2-1 Jacks heading into the intermission.
It was all Wellesley for the next 20 minutes. Pickering made it 3-1early in the second frame at 1:44, with an assist by Gorman. Lyons followed up at 11:48, with the assist going to Danny Ranson.
The third frame had a similar tone, with Pickering capitalizing on a power play at 7:23. Gorman and Cousineau grabbed the assists. Ribeiro (Lyons) scored the final Wellesley goal at 12:06. Woodstock managed to pot another, taking advantage of a power play at 18:40, but it wasn’t nearly enough, as the gamed ended 5-2.
“I’ve been pleased with the reffing we’ve been getting,” said Brick. “It’s been controlled, not a lot of stupid calls tend to happen, controlled enough that the players know that if they cross lines, they’re gone.”
The Applejacks look to keep the momentum going during a busy upcoming weekend. They travel to Norwich to take on the Merchants tomorrow (Friday) before welcoming the Ayr Centennials to the Wellesley arena the following night at 8 p.m. They’re back on home ice again Sunday afternoon for a 2 p.m. matinee against the Delhi Travellers.