Sunday’s lousy weather may not have been to everyone’s liking, but the Wellesley Applejacks might have been the only ones happy to see the freezing rain that postponed a scheduled game against Tavistock. Having already dropped a pair of games that weekend, they got a reprieve and a chance to regroup.
Things got off to a not-so-good start on the road last Friday when the Jacks lost 5-4 to the Norwich Merchants. That was followed by a 5-2 loss Saturday night to the visiting Ayr Centennials, with the small skid halted by the weather.
Still, a pair of losses was enough to see Wellesley fall out of top spot in the South Doherty Division of the Provincial Junior Hockey League. Tavistock (17-3-1-1) now sits atop the list, three points ahead of the Jacks (14-4-1-4). Ayr is in third with a record of 14-7-0-1.
On Friday, Wellesley’s Troy Vandenbussche (Zach Ribeiro, Shaun Pickering) drew first blood, taking advantage of a power play at 15:46. Norwich responded with just five seconds left to go in the frame to make it 1-1 as the teams went back to their rooms for the first intermission.
The Merchants made it 2-1 with a goal at 9:15, but Wellesley’s Justin McCombs returned the favour less than 30 seconds later. The game took a nastier turn later in the frame, with three Jacks ultimately tossed with a boarding major, a check from behind and abuse of an official. The Merchants scored on the resultant power play to take a 3-2 lead into the break.
Back from intermission and still enjoying the man advantage, the home team went up 4-2 just 35 seconds in. But Wellesley wasn’t done yet. Warren Gorman (James Ranson, Pickering) got the Applejacks back within one at 3:08, and Carson Wickie kept up the momentum, tying it at 4-4 at 8:02. Assists went to Zach Ribeiro and Vandenbussche.
The deciding goal, the last of the game, came off a Merchant stick at 12:25, with Wellesley unable to come back one more time. The buzzer ended at 5-4 in Norwich’s favour.
Perhaps still gassed from the night before, and missing a few bodies from the roster, the Jacks suffered another loss the following night against the Ayr Centennials.
Things started off slowly, with no scoring on either side in the first period. It was Ayr who broke the deadlock, taking advantage of a power play at 2:08, then once again at 3:20. They managed to pot a third unassisted at 6:18, obtaining a lead they would never relinquish.
Despite being outshot 25-7 in the period – 44-28 overall – the Jacks manage to pull closer for while when Gorman (Vandenbussche) scored at 7:18, and Pickering made it 3-2 18:33, Ribeiro and Danny Ranson picking up the assists.
It was all Ayr after that, as the visitors put up another pair of goals in the third, to which Wellesley had no reply. When the clock ran down to zero, the scoreboard read 5-2 for Ayr.
The Jacks have just one game on tap this weekend, as they hit the road for Paris to take on the Mounties. The postponed match against the Braves has yet to be rescheduled.