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Jacks split opening pair in playoff series vs. New Hamburg

The Jacks celebrate a goal during Friday’s opener. [Colin Merlihan]

For the Wellesley Applejacks, 4-1 and 4-1 make it 1-1 in the opening round of the Provincial Junior Hockey League playoffs.

Having lost the first game to the New Hamburg Firebirds on February 7, the team bounced back the following night to win by the same 4-1 spread, knotting the best-of-seven-series at one apiece.

Last Friday night’s opener at the Wellesley arena was a special-teams affair, as none of the scoring came 5-on-5. New Hamburg was on the board first, Quinn Bisch potting the lone goal of the first 20 minutes on a power play despite being outshot 15-11.

The Firebirds made it 2-0 on a goal from Mason Sinkeldam at 7:40, again on the power play. Less than five minutes later, the Jacks took advantage of a power play of their own, Matt Caskanette scoring off an assist from Zach Ribeiro to make it 2-1.

Another power play saw the Firebirds seal the victory when Dalton Smith scored at 11:37 of the final frame. With the Wellesley net empty in favour of an extra attacker, Smith made it 4-1 at 18-11.

The final shot tally was 38-29 in favour of the visitors.

Led by Owen Lane’s hat trick, the Jacks turned the tables the following night in New Hamburg.

On Saturday, it was Wellesley that opened the scoring, Lane’s first coming at 5:05, assisted by Shaun Pickering and Justin McCombs. New Hamburg would respond with Cedrik Roth’s unassisted goal at 10:28, sending the teams into intermission locked at 1-1.

The only goal of the middle frame came off the stick of Conner Bradley at 12: 11, with assists going to Carson Wickie and Austin Cousineau.

Just 55 seconds into the final stanza, Lane’s second made it 3-1, the power-play marker coming with assists from McCombs and James Ranson. At 16:16, the trio struck again, a goal that would cap the night on route to a 4-1 Wellesley victory.

Shots were 47-35 for the Jacks.

Game three of the series was played Wednesday night in Wellesley, but results weren’t available prior to press time. Action resumes Friday night in New Hamburg, with game five set for Saturday night back in Wellesley. Start time in both cases is 7:30 p.m.

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