The Wellesley Applejacks dropped another pair of close games last weekend, bringing their record to 5-18-4.
A 5-2 loss got things going on Jan. 3. The game was closer than the score showed, courtesy of two empty-net goals in the final seconds. The next day, Wellesley lost 5-4 to Lucan. The Jacks struggled with penalty killing that game, as Lucan converted on three of four power plays.
“It seems like every goalie we’re playing against is the best in the league [that night],” said team captain Scott Litt after Saturday’s game. “We couldn’t bury our chances.”
On Dec. 27, Wellesley lost 5-4 to St. George, staging a dramatic comeback in the third period, but ultimately too late to change the result.
St. George dominated the scoreboard in the first two periods, notching a power play goal at the end of the first and pounding in three more goals in the second. Seven minutes into the third period, St. George added a fifth goal to make it 5-0.
Wellesley’s scoring machine finally shifted into gear in the second half of the third period. Eric Parr scored midway the period, and that goal cracked the dam. Read Shantz notched a power play goal at 14:08, and Brett VanGerwen added a second power play goal two minutes later. With a minute left, Parr scored his second on a feed from Matt Snyder. But the Jacks couldn’t find a tying goal and the game ended 5-4.
Last Saturday, the game got off to a choppy start as the two teams racked up 27 minutes in penalties in the first period.
Ayr opened the scoring midway through the period, when Kody Pickett scored on a pass from Matt VanLauwe. At 8:12 in the second, Robbie Brooks made it two for Ayr; Sean Mould had the assist.
With two and a half minutes left in the second, Parr (Chris Givlin, VanGerwen) flicked a rebound into an open corner of the net to get Wellesley on the scoreboard.
Five minutes into the third period, Ayr made it a 3-1 lead as Destin Wolfe-Sabo found the mesh on a feed from Todd McEachern.
Parr brought the Jacks within tying distance at 12:41, scoring on a pass from Pat Doyle. The Jacks were on the hunt for the equalizing goal when coach John Tsai pulled the goalie with a minutes and a half left. But Ayr’s Jeff Chambers slid the puck down the ice for an empty net goal. Fifteen seconds later, Corey Vranken added a second empty-net goal to make the final score 5-2.
Litt said the Jacks are outplaying their opponents on many occasions, but missed chances are hurting the team.
“You can’t kill everything. You’ve got to expect that they’re going to score goals,” he said. “There’s only so many opportunities to get a goal. You can’t throw those away.”
In the game Jan. 4, the Jacks barely warmed the bench in the penalty box, but Lucan made good on three of four power plays.
Wellesley drew first blood, as Parr scored on the power play at 6:53. Doyle and Rob Bolger logged assists.
With just over a minute left in the first period, Lucan answered back with a power play goal of their own. Alex Regan (Chris Van Kasteren, Zack Yeo) notched the point.
Van Kasteren added a power play goal of his own midway through the second, on a pass from Yeo. With two minutes left in the second frame, Bolger (Doyle) answered back, to make it tied at 2-2 as the teams headed to the dressing rooms.
Lucan took the lead 41 seconds into the third, when Nick Engel (Kevin Dean, Mike Spenser) knocked one past the keeper.
Parr evened things up once again at the seven-minute mark, scoring on a feed from Doyle and Bolger.
But the Irish built their lead back up again, as Adam Hartman (Alex Regan, Engel) scored on the power play with two minutes left.
At 18:42, Lucan’s Yeo was handed a slashing penalty, giving Wellesley the man advantage for the remainder of the game. Tsai pulled the goalie and poured shooters on the ice in search of a tying goal. But with a minute left, Van Kasteren slid the puck into the Jacks’ unguarded net for a fifth goal.
Doyle (Parr) scored on the power play in the final second of the game, but it was too little, too late and the game ended 5-4 for Lucan.
With the losses, the Jacks’ losing streak deepened to 14 games, which Litt said has the players frustrated.
“It’s tough when you’re on a losing streak, but you’ve just got to relax and not clench the stick so tight,” he said. “We just have to keep working hard. That’s the way to win games, is keep working hard. There’s no real trick.”