Jacks earn two convincing wins over the weekend
Team led from the get-go in 6-2 victory against visiting Delhi, but had to overcome slow start to beat New Hamburg 5-2
THE APPLEJACKS WEREN’T GRACIOUS hosts last weekend, but the fans were more than happy to see back-to-back wins, first over Delhi then New Hamburg.
The Travellers fell 6-2 on Friday night, with the Firebirds going home as 5-2 losers the following evening.
On October 27, the Jacks opened the scoring within the first three minutes and never looked back. An early Delhi penalty allowed Corey Restoule to score on the power play, with Nick Mercier and Nicholas Bigioni lending the assist.
From there, less than a minute later, Thomas Azzano (Kyle Soper, Brady Gerber) potted the team’s second goal of the match. The scoreboard hit 2-0 just four minutes ten seconds into the first frame.
“I felt like we played OK tonight. It was definitely not our best game but it’s nice to always come out with the two points, for sure,” said Applejack Reade MacInnis after the game.
Delhi got one back a couple of minutes later to pull to within one, which is where things sat for much of the period as the two teams settled into a rhythm before Nicholas Bigioni (Alex Uttley, Shaun Pickering) scored in the final few minutes to make it 3-1 going into the break.
For the next 20 minutes of play, the Jacks dominated on the ice if not on the board. They threw 17 shots at the Travellers, scoring once on the power play – Uttley, from MacInnis and Trent Lamarche – while allowing the visitors just three shots of their own.
Entering the final frame up 4-1, the Jacks pressed their attack with two more goals within a minute. MacInnis (Uttley, Pickering) placed the puck in the net at 4:01, and Zach Ribeiro (Soper, Kyle Fischer) followed at 5:04.
Delhi got one back on the power play, but the outcome was never in doubt at that point. The final was 6-2.
“We scored on our opportunities tonight, but we obviously need to tighten up our own end and some neutral zone play. I think the effort was there, we just got a little sloppy at times,” said assistant coach Brock Gerber after the game.
“Obviously, getting the win was a good thing. I thought the guys played three good periods, stuck with what we talk about, stuck with the program, and played the game the way we wanted,” said head coach Brad Gerber.
“We stayed with it. We played a patient, patient game, so things worked out”
Going into Saturday’s with a big “W” in the weekend’s books, the Jacks were able to double down on the successes of the previous night. While they blew away the competition, it could have easily gone the other way with the New Hamburg Firebirds running with the lead for the first half of the game.
Nine minutes into the opening stanza, New Hamburg drew first blood on the power play in what would be the only point of the period. It was a bad start for Wellesley that only got worse as the second period opened, with the Firebirds potting their second at 6:29.
Trailing 2-0 halfway through the game, the Jacks went on the offensive in what would be a stunning about-face. Mercier potted the team’s first marker, Uttley and Pickering providing the assists. Thirty seconds later, the trio scored yet again, with Mercier taking point.
Then, not even ten seconds later, Restoule picked up an unassisted goal.
In the span of 44 seconds, the Jacks turned the game upside down by taking a 3-2 lead.
“The game turned around pretty quick,” said head coach Gerber. “We kept saying, ‘just keep working hard, eventually it’s going to happen. Once we get one, we’ll get another one.’ I never expected to get three that quick but it’s always nice – it really lifted us and the guys played with a lot more confidence once we got those three goals.”
Buoyed by the dramatic turn of events, the team pushed the attack while shutting down their opponents for the rest of the match.
At 18:11, Pickering (Lamarche, Uttley) took it to the net for yet another goal, closing the frame 4-2 in favour of the Jacks. The third was a little less spectacular, but with three minutes left on the clock, Wellesley got one last goal with Uttley (Fischer) sweeping the puck into an empty net, ending the game at 5-2.
Even with the two wins, the Applejacks (7-6) are currently sitting in fifth place in the standings, a comfortable distance ahead of Norwich (5-8-1), but several paces back of Paris (10-4-0-1).
The next two games will see the Jacks first back on the road for a late evening match up today (Nov. 2) against the first-place Ayr Centennials (14-2).
“Obviously they’re the two-time Schmalz Cup champions so it’s always fun to play those guys,” said Gerber.
“We’re going to have to bring our good game. We’re going to have to work hard and stay disciplined. I mean their power play always seems to hurt us every time we play them. So if we can stay out of the penalty box, I believe if we play 5-on-5, we can play with them. But, yeah, we have to stay disciplined and stay away from the penalty troubles,” he said.
The Jacks are home on Saturday night to take on the Norwich Merchants.
Applejacks Garrett Schultz (inset) and Nicholas Bigioni in game action against Delhi Friday night.
Kyle Soper contributed two assists against the Delhi Travellers Friday night as the Jacks won 6-2.