On the road, Welles­ley Ap­ple­jacks split a pair

Af­ter tak­ing out Ayr 3-1 to ex­tend its streak, the squad falls 5-4 in a back-and-forth bat­tle in New Ham­burg

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - FAISAL ALI

AF­TER A NEAR FLAW­LESS three weeks played on home ice, the Welles­ley Ap­ple­jacks were once more on the road for the week’s matchups. First fac­ing the Cen­ten­ni­als in Ayr on Oc­to­ber 25, the Jacks pulled through with a com­fort­able 3-1 de­ci­sion, but found the hosts less wel­com­ing in New Ham­burg last Satur­day, suf­fer­ing a nar­row 5-4 loss to the Fire­birds.

The split de­ci­sion poured cold wa­ter on the team’s hot streak, which had kicked off on Oc­to­ber 6 and had been go­ing for five wins and a tie.

Still, the Jacks were on top form as they headed into Ayr last week, where they went on to best the home team af­ter suf­fer­ing some slight set­backs in the first frame.

Ayr took the lead in this game, draw­ing first blood half­way through the open­ing stanza. The goal came off the stick of the Cen­ten­ni­als’ Dean Jack­son at the nine-minute mark, tilt­ing the game in Ayr’s favour for the re­main­der of the frame.

The Jacks had the op­por­tu­nity to re­spond in the next 20 min­utes, scor­ing twice in quick suc­ces­sion and swing­ing the game back to their side. Warren Gorman tied things up at 1-1 just five min­utes into the se­cond, with Alex Ut­t­ley and James Ran­son pick­ing up as­sists. His goal was fol­lowed by an­other, this time from Shaun Pick­er­ing, with Ut­t­ley once again pro­vid­ing a helper.

The Jacks were now in the lead 2-1 with lit­tle over half the game to go. The Welles­ley team was able to hang on to their point lead for the re­main­der of the se­cond, and then found the back of the net for a third time in the third.

It was Ut­t­ley who got the fi­nal goal at 11:47 on the power play, ce­ment­ing the team’s lead 3-1 for the re­main­der of the match. The as­sist this time be­longed to Pick­er­ing.

In the bat­tle of the spe­cial teams, the Jacks proved the su­pe­rior team, with five man-ad­van­tages and two power play mark­ers com­pared with Ayr’s 0-4.

On a high af­ter Thurs­day game in Ayr, the Jacks were knocked low come Satur­day at the New Ham­burg arena. The Fire­birds, Welles­ley’s neigh­bour­ing ri­vals, just edged out the vis­i­tors with a pair of goals in the last frame, mak­ing it a 5-4 dif­fer­ence when the buzzer went.

Once again, it was the Jack’s op­po­nents that got on the board first, just four min­utes into the game. The Fire­birds were up 1-0 for much of the pe­riod, but the vis­i­tors replied be­fore the in­ter­mis­sion cour­tesy of a goal off the stick of Zach Ribeiro (Danny Ran­son, Koby Seil­ing).

The Jacks quickly pulled into the lead when play re­sumed af­ter the in­ter­mis­sion, Ut­t­ley (Reade MacIn­nis) mak­ing it 2-1 at 1:25.

New Ham­burg re­sponded with a marker of their own less than a minute later, knot­ting things up. It would be Jacks who went into the in­ter­mis­sion with a lead this time, how­ever, as Ribeiro scored an­other, as­sisted by Ran­son, at 15:40 to make it 3-2.

The fi­nal frame is where things got heated, which can hap­pen in a one-goal game.

New Ham­burg tied the score at 3-3 at 5:32 of the third, but Welles­ley quickly re­gained the lead on an unas­sisted goal from Ut­t­ley just a minute later. The score was now 4-3 in the Jacks’ favour again, with less than 14 min­utes on the clock. But the Fire­birds played the game down to the wire.

Penalty trou­ble proved Welles­ley’s un­do­ing, as the Fire­birds drew even again at 7:49 via a pow­er­play goal, cap­ping the come­back on an­other power play at 16:50 to make it 5-4, which is how the game would fin­ish.

Af­ter a mixed per­for­mance on the road, the Jacks will be re­turn­ing to the Welles­ley arena this week­end. First up will an evening game against the Bur­ford Bull­dogs on Fri­day, fol­lowed by a re­match against the New Ham­burg Fire­birds Satur­day. The puck drops for both games at 7:30 p.m.

The Jacks were at the New Ham­burg arena Oct. 27 for their lone game of the week­end, ul­ti­mately fall­ing 5-4 to the home team. Top, Shaun Pick­er­ing tries to squeak the puck past the net­min­der. Above left, Zach Ribeiro is on the move, while Alex Ut­t­ley bat­tles to keep the puck.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

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