It was a relatively low-scoring affair, but the Feb. 7 matchup between the Wellesley Applejacks and the North Middlesex Stars was a hockey game full of end-to-end action and suspense – right up until the very last second.
Both the Jacks and the Stars – each carried the lead at one point in the 2-2 regulation tie – showed a desire to win and battled hard right from the get-go, providing their fans with an entertaining show, which ultimately saw the Stars win 3-2 in a shootout.
“We were consistent through the whole game,” said manager Dave Litt after the game.
“It was a good game, a well refereed game, the officials did a good job … 3-2 in a shootout; it’s a pretty good hockey game for people to watch.”
Despite a combined 23 shots in the first frame (13 by North Middlesex and 10 by Wellesley) the game remained scoreless until the 3:58 minute mark of the second period. North Middlesex’s Jason Thompson, from David Reschke, gave his team the lead.
The Jacks were hungry, however, and reacted quickly when Read Shantz, assisted by Scott Hanley, tied it up at one at 7:25.
The Jacks kept climbing and at 15:07, Pat Doyle, from Rob Bolger, gave his side the lead to make it 2-1.
Offensively, the third period was the Jacks’ worst. Conceding 23 shots, and managing to unleash just six in return, the Jacks saw a lot of action in their own end. Fortunately for them, netminder Kent Stoltz was on his game, pulling off an almost heroic performance, blocking dangerous shots left, right and centre.
Indeed, a few times the crowd gasped as Wellesley’s blue-liners were overpowered and Stoltz, who stopped 49 of 51 shots, was left to pull something out of the magician’s hat, stacking the pads here or flicking the glove-hand there.
“I think he’d like both of the goals back, but most goaltenders would. I thought he played well,” said Litt.
Unfortunately for the goaltender, the Stars’ David Reschke was able to slip one through at 16:10 on the power play; Jason Thompson picked up the assist. The game was now tied at two.
The third period buzzer sounded and the teams headed into overtime. Again, the offensive contest was dominated by the Stars, who showered Stolz with seven shots and saw just one Wellesley discharge in return.
The teams then squared off in a shootout. North Middlesex netted two, and Wellesley managed just one.
Despite the loss, Litt was pleased with his squad.
“We played a very good hockey game today: defensively responsible. They’re a high scoring team and we held them to two goals,” said Litt, noting the team will focus on strengthening its penalty kills in the next few weeks.
The fourth place North Middlesex Stars (24-10-4) have thus far in the season potted 179 goals, 59 more than the last place Wellesley squad (8-22-7).
Though the Stars took the edge in the shootout, the Jacks felt no remorse in dropping a point to one of the league’s better teams, and are feeling rather optimistic as they head into the playoffs.
“[We’re] fairly optimistic; over the playoffs, if these guys bring this game, who knows what could happen? It’s a new season.”