The Wellesley Applejacks are in tight battle against the Ayr Centennials in the second round of the Provincial Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The Jacks find themselves up 3-2 following a 4-0 win Tuesday night at the Wellesley arena.
Having beaten New Hamburg in the first round, the Jacks opened their series against the Centennials February 26 on home ice, skating to a 3-2 win. Ayr turned the tables the following night in their own barn, posting a 3-2 victory. It was much less close in the next two games, an 8-3 Centennial win in Wellesley on Saturday, followed by a 7-4 decision for the visitors in Ayr on Sunday afternoon.
Fans got a taste of how close things would be right from the get-go. In game one, neither side was able to score, each posting 13 shots. Ayr would finally get on the board at 5:01 of the second, going up 2-0 less than four minutes later, and taking the lead into the second intermission. Shots were 12-12 in the middle frame.
The Jacks found their footing in the third, a shorthanded goal from Justin McCombs at 8:23, assisted by Owen Lane, getting them back in it.
Lane tied things up at 2-2 when he scored one of his own at 17:10, assists going to Warren Gorman and Zach Ribeiro. Just 13 seconds later, Carson Wickie (Shaun Pickering, Austin Cousineau) got what would prove to be the game-winner.
Final shots were 40-37 in favour of the home team.
Thursday night in Ayr was a back-and-forth affair. Again, the Centennials scored first, breaking the ice at 18:42, but the Ribeiro (Koby Seiling, Gorman) tied it up with just six seconds left in the frame.
Ayr scored the lone goal of the second period to take a 2-1 lead that stood for more than 30 minutes before Wellesley’s Troy Vandenbussche got the equalizer, an unassisted marker at 15:03 of the third.
With no more scoring in regulation time, it was off to OT, where Ayr got the winner at 5:59.
Shot totals were much less close than the score, the Centennials coming out ahead 46-26.
On Saturday night at the Wellesley arena, Ayr scored the first and last goals, and most of the ones that came in between.
After giving up the first goal again at 12:43, the Jacks replied less than a minute later courtesy of a goal by Cousineau (Wickie, Pickering), but that’s as close as it would get. The Centennials took advantage of power plays to add two more before the period ended.
In another quiet middle frame, Ayr went up 4-1. In the third period, two more Centennial goals spelled the end of the night for netminder Kailem Chappele, who was replaced by Duncan Rolleman. It was 6-1 less than halfway through before Wellesley’s Matt Caskanette, assisted by Pickering, got one back on a power play at 10:44. Less than a minute later, however, it was 7-2. Danny Ranson’s goal at 14:49, assisted by Ribeiro and Pickering, was negated by Ayr’s shorthanded goal at 18:56. At the buzzer, it was 8-3 for the Centennials. Shots were 42-35 in favour of the visitors.
Back in North Dumfries Sunday afternoon, the Jacks got on the scoreboard first, scoring early and often such that they never trailed. Ribiero, from Lane, made it 1-0 just 32 seconds in. Zachary Lyons made it 2-0 at 9:03, with Lane picking up another assist on the shorthanded effort.
Ayr scored on a power play at 15:23 to make it 2-1 going into the first intermission.
Ranson’s goal, assisted by Wickie and McCombs, at 1:57 of period number two made it 3-1. Two minutes later, Gorman (McCombs) made it a three-goal lead. Ayr replied twice, making it a one-goal game again, before James Ranson (Ribeiro, Caskanette) scored at 12:44 and again at 15:52 (Lyons, Lane) to put the game out of reach.
Ayr scored again late, so it was 6-4 after 40 minutes.
Lane capped a four-point night with a goal just 40 seconds into the third, assisted by Lyons and Ribeiro – 7-4 is how the scoreboard would remain through the final buzzer, with the shot clock showing 37-35 in favour of the Centennials. Chappelle picked up the win, stopping 33 pucks.
On Tuesday night, the Jacks led from start to finish, despite being outshot 43-28 on the night. Chappelle recorded the shoutout
Cousineau’s goal, assisted by D. Ranson, late in the first period proved to be enough. The Jacks added to the total, however, when J. Ranson (Lane) scored on the power play at 13:45 of the second period. Just 14 seconds later, Gianfranco Commisso (Steve DeGroot, Seiling) made it 3-0, which is how the period ended.
In the third, Keegan Saunders added an empty-net goal at 17:51 to round out the night’s scoring.
Game six in the series sees the action move to Ayr tonight (Thursday), where the Jacks could move on with a victory. If needed, game seven will be played Saturday night, 7:30 p.m., back at the Wellesley arena.