It wasn’t the start the Wellesley Applejacks wanted to their third-round series against the Tavistock Braves, but it’s early yet.
Facing the one team that finished ahead of them in the South Doherty Division this season – the Braves had 64 points, Wellesley 62 – the Jacks were on the losing end of an 8-3 final as the PJHL series got started Monday night in Tavistock.
The series came to pass after the Jacks defeated the Ayr Centennial 6-1 on March 5 to take that second-round series in six games.
Having advanced, the Jacks had a four-day respite to prepare for Tavistock.
The Braves opened the scoring courtesy of Zach Gladding at 4:38 of the first period. Just over a minute later, Wellesley tied it up when Danny Ranson fed Zach Ribeiro while the Jacks were on a power play. That’s as close as it would be all night, however.
Tavistock made it 2-1 when Bradley Smith scored before the period ended to give the home side a lead they’d never relinquish.
It was 3-1 less than three minutes after play resumed, Thomas Haffner potting the goal for Tavistock.
Wellesley’s Troy Vandenbussche got his team within one when he scored unassisted at 8:21, but Zac Berg’s goal just over 30 seconds later made it 4-2, which is where the score sat when the period came to an end.
Haffner’s second of the night at 3:50 of the final stanza, another power-play goal, put the game out of reach at 5-2. Josh Helgerman made it 6-2 at 9:23.
Wellesley’s Owen Lane kept the one-goal-per-period streak going when he scored on the power play at 11:34, with assists going to D. Ranson and James Ranson.
Down 6-3, the Jacks would watch the home team pot two more – Patrick Vulgan at 14:25 and Ryan Donat at 16:10 – before the final buzzer.
Shots were 45-31 in favour of the Braves.
Play shifted to the Wellesley arena Wednesday night, though results weren’t available before press time. The teams are in Tavistock again Friday night, then return to Wellesley Saturday evening (7:30 p.m.) for game four.
Game five is pencilled in for Monday (March 16) in Tavistock, with game six back on Wellesley ice March 18.