Though the Wellesley Applejacks might have been better served by spreading out the scoring across the four games that wrapped around the Christmas break, they still took three of them to the bank.
One-sided victories over Delhi and New Hamburg before Christmas were followed by a one-goal victory over Paris and a loss to Tavistock, the top team in the PJHL’s South Doherty Division. The Jacks remain just one point back in second with a record of 19-5-1-4.
Five days before the traditional meal was served, the Jacks feasted on the Delhi Travellers at the Wellesley arena, skating to an 18-1 victory.
James Ranson (Justin McCombs, Owen Lane) drew first blood at 2:04, while Gianfranco Commisso (Steven DeGroot, Carson Wickie) kept up the momentum at 7:21. The next Jacks goal came courtesy of Shaun Pickering at 11:17, assisted by Kyle Fischer. Zach Ribeiro (McCombs, Lane) joined in on the scoring frenzy at 12:38. The floundering Travellers finally retaliated with a lone goal at 13:59 to make it 4-1 at the intermission.
Things got rolling from there. Pickering (Warren Gorman, Koby Seiling) scored at 1:06. Austin Cousineau (Gorman) followed up at 4:30, then DeGroot (Commisso, Seiling) kept the streak going at 7:36. The next goal came once again from DeGroot at 13:01, with Commisso and Conner Bradley picking up the assists. Pickering picked up a hat trick before the second stanza’s end at 17:26, with assists going to Bradley and Cousineau.
The final frame saw nearly twice the amount of scoring on the Applejacks side, giving Delhi no chance to respond whatsoever. Kicking off this onslaught was Cousineau (Pickering, Gorman) almost instantly 15 seconds in. Commisso potted one at 3:11, making it a hat trick of his own at 4:18. Wickie and DeGroot assisted on both goals. Wickie scored a goal of his own at 6:34, with Wickie and DeGroot picking up assists. The next Wellesley goal was courtesy of Seiling (Lane, Bradley) at 8:58. Commisso (DeGroot) continued the streak at 9:40.
Perhaps feeling the pressure of a 15-1 disadvantage getting to them, Delhi racked up several penalties throughout the frame. Wellesley was quick to take advantage, with Kyle Fischer (Gorman, Pickering) scoring on a power play at 12:11. Ribeiro also capitalized on a power play at 14:26, with the assist going to Daniel McCutcheon. Wickie (Commisso) scored the final goal at 15:52. When the dust had settled, the Applejacks emerged victorious by a score of 18-1.
The shot count was also lopsided: Wellesley’s 75 versus Delhi’s 15.
Wellesley went on to easily take down the New Hamburg Firebirds 9-2 the following day, December 21. McCombs (Fischer, Wickie) kicked things off at 2:16, before the Firebirds returned the favour at 7:34. Ribeiro (Commisso, J. Ranson) ensured that the Applejacks kept the lead one minute into the second stanza, one that they would never relinquish. DeGroot (Fisher) kept up the momentum at 3:53. Fischer capitalized on a power play, with J. Ranson and Commisso picking up assists. New Hamburg took advantage on a power play of their own at 11:10. There was a significant amount of roughhousing in this stanza, with 11 collective infractions between the teams.
It was all Wellesley after that: Commisso (Ribeiro, Seiling) set the tone of the final frame at 2:47, and Ribeiro (Bradley) kept the momentum going at 3:16. McCombs managed to score a shorthanded and unassisted marker at 6:28. The scrappy tone of the game continued into the third period, allowing Bradley to capitalize on a power play at 10:21. Pickering and Ribeiro picked up the assists. Gorman (Ribeiro) scored the final goal at 18:39, resulting in a 9-2 win. Shots were 44-28 in Wellesley’s favour.
While that weekend saw significant wins for the Applejacks, the following pair of games were much closer. The Applejacks hosted the Paris Mounties on December 28, resulting in a narrow 5-4 win for Wellesley in what was a scrappy affair decided by special teams.
Commisso (Wickie, DeGroot) quickly put Wellesley on the board 1:38, with no more scoring and just a handful of penalties until the second frame. Cousineau (J. Ranson) continued the Wellesley streak at 4:05, before the Mounties retaliated on a power play at 9:41.
The second frame was all about power-play goals on both sides, with the Applejacks and Mounties using their special teams effectively. Paris scored again on a power play at 10:32, and then once again at 14:25. But Wellesley managed to follow up in almost the exact same manner, with McCombs ( Lyons, Commisso) potting one at 15:00, then Troy Vandenbussche (Lyons) also capitalizing on the extra player advantage at 19:52.
Lyons managed to score a goal shorthanded at 12:39, with the assist going to McCombs. There were many infractions littered throughout this suspenseful final frame, with a collective 14 between the two teams.
Paris finally responded on a power play, unassisted at 19:47 with just seconds left in the match, but it was not enough to save the game for them. The win once again went to the Applejacks, with shots in Wellesley’s favour 38-30.
The matinee game the following day took a different turn, with the Tavistock Braves putting an end to the Applejacks’ six-game win streak. Being a little too chippy may have been Wellesley’s downfall: they served more than an hour (62 minutes) of time in the box on 23 infractions, compared to Tavistock’s 22 minutes on seven infractions.
The Braves set the tone early in the first frame, with three consecutive power play goals: they drew first blood at 10:19, and followed up shortly afterwards at 11:13. Tavistock scored their final goal of the stanza at 14:56, establishing an early lead that they never gave up.
They scored once first once again in the second frame at 4:14, before Wellesley finally found their footing. McCombs took advantage of a power play at 6:03, with assists going to Lyons and Pickering. Pickering scored on a penalty shot at 13:25, but it was all Wellesley could muster before the game’s end.
Tavistock once again capitalized on a power play at 15:24, taking a 5-2 lead before the final frame. There was little scoring in the third, save for a lone Tavistock goal on a power play at 13:13. There were plenty of penalties, however, with over a dozen coming from Wellesley’s side. When it was all said and done, Tavistock came out on top 6-2.
The shot count was a little more balanced – Tavistock’s 31 versus Wellesley’s 23.
The Applejacks will look to improve their standings in their first game of 2020 on in Paris as they take on the Mounties Saturday night.