A four-game winning streak to start the new year having come to an end Saturday, the Wellesley Applejacks rebounded Tuesday night to post a 6-1 win over the Burford Bulldogs.
Over the weekend, the Jacks beat Paris 3-2 on Friday night before dropping a 4-1 decision the following day to the New Hamburg Firebirds.
Having taken two of three, Wellesley remains in second place in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s South Doherty Division standings with 53 points (24-6-1-4), three points behind the division-leading Tavistock Braves.
The game against the Mounties in Wellesley January 17 was a close one. Paris drew first blood almost instantly, just 19 seconds in. Wellesley was quick to retaliate however, with Daniel McCutcheon potting one at 2:31. James Ranson picked up the assist. Paris maintained their lead by the end of the first frame, scoring a final goal at 16:22.
This put the pressure on the Applejacks in the second stanza, but they clearly didn’t let it get to them. Steven DeGroot tied the game 20 seconds in, with assists going to Justin McCombs and Shaun Pickering. Brendan Baker (Matt Caskanette, Connor Bradley) potted one more for good measure at 7:18, gaining a lead that the Applejacks would never relinquish.
There was some back-and-forth penalties, with both teams serving eight minutes on four separate infractions. But this did little to change the results: when the final buzzer sounded, it was a 3-2 win for the Applejacks. However, Paris had the shot count advantage: 36 compared to Wellesley’s 31.
Saturday’s game in New Hamburg is where it all fell apart for Wellesley. The Firebirds opened the scoring, and it was still 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
Again in the second, the sole goal came off a Firebird stick, this time on a power play.
The Jacks finally found their footing in the third, if only for a brief moment. Bradley (Caskanette) potted the lone Applejacks goal of the game at 9:50, with Caskanette picking up the assist. New Hamburg responded at 11:18 on a power play.
Down 3-1, Wellesley pulled their goalie, Kailem Chappelle, in the dying minutes of the frame. But the strategy backfired on them, making the empty net easy pickings for a Firebird player, who scored just one second afterwards. When it was all said and done, the scoreboard read 4-1 for New Hamburg.
The shot count was much more reflective of a close game, New Hamburg having a slight edge 35-34.
The loss was something of a shock, as the Jacks had yet to lose to the Firebirds this season.
There was no time for much reflection, however, as the Applejacks were back in action Tuesday night.
Austin Cousineau (Koby Seiling) put the visiting Jacks up 1-0 less than three minutes in. Burford got the equalizer at 7:14, but that was it for them the rest of the way. When Cousineau scored again at 12:30, assisted by Gianfranco Commisso and DeGroot, before the intermission, that would prove to be the winning goal.
In the second, the visitors got goals from Carson Wickie (McCutcheon, Zach Ribeiro), Ribeiro (Wickie, Keegan Saunders) and Wickie again (Zachary Lyons, Ribeiro).
Ranson rounded out the scoring in the third, with assists going to Commisso and Bradley. The final score was 6-1, with Wellesley doubling up on Burford’s shot total, 54-25
Down to five games in the regular season, Wellesley plays three of them in the next few days. The team is in Ayr tonight (Thursday) to take on the Centennials, then welcome the Woodstock Navy Vets on Saturday at 8 p.m. in Wellesley. They’re back on the road the following day, heading to Delhi to take on the Travellers.