Jacks give a little, receive a little over the holiday season

Like holiday gift giving – something for you in exchange for something for me – the Wellesley Applejacks came out even through four games played over Christmas. The holiday schedule got rolling on December 22, with the Jacks putting one in the win column against the New Hamburg Firebirds with a narr

Last updated on May 03, 23

Posted on Jan 04, 18

4 min read

Like holiday gift giving – something for you in exchange for something for me – the Wellesley Applejacks came out even through four games played over Christmas.

The holiday schedule got rolling on December 22, with the Jacks putting one in the win column against the New Hamburg Firebirds with a narrow 5-4 victory, but falling the next day to the visiting Tavistock Braves by a score of 5-2.

The following weekend was another split affair, as the Jacks fell December 29 to the Navy Vets in Woodstock before winning 4-2 the following night on home ice against the Paris Mounties.

On the road in New Hamburg, the Jacks skated to a strong lead against the Firebirds, dominating the first two frames of the game before dropping significantly in the final.

Just three minutes into the first, Zach Ribeiro found the back of the Firebird’s net on the power play, with Nathan Smith and Kyle Soper picking up assists. The early goal was quickly followed by a second, as Shaun Pickering (Alex Uttley, Spencer Brick) scored but 50 seconds later.

The Jacks were up 2-0 before the first five minutes, and that’s how the scoreboard looked until intermission.

Opening the second, Pickering picked up yet another 40 seconds after the puck dropped, with Uttley again providing the assist. The Firebirds answered at 15:54 on the power play, ending goalie Ryan Hergott’s shutout bid. The jubilation for the New Hamburg crowd was short-lived, though, as at 18:01, they were hit by the third Pickering/Uttley combo of the night, ending the frame 4-1 in favour of the Jacks.

By now, things were starting to get a little chippy on the ice. The Jacks lost their star shooter, Pickering, when a brawl broke out that saw the player hit with multiple penalties, including knocking the bucket off another player’s head.

Still, an easy victory seemed in the cards, but then the Firebirds rallied in the final stanza. They scored their second at 5:19 on the power play, and were answered back by Wellesley’s Ribeiro (Ryan Sparkes) at 10:51. But from there, things quickly went south.

The score was 5-2, and New Hamburg jumped to close the distance with a goal at 12:54, followed by another on the power play at 15:21. Former Applejack Corey Restoule provided the assist for that final goal, helping turn the game into a one-point match. But with four-and-a-half minutes left on the clock, the Jacks were able to hold onto their now slim lead, ending the game with a 5-4 victory.

The following night, the Jacks returned home for a match against the first-place Tavistock Braves that ultimately ended in a 5-2 defeat for the Wellesley team.

The Jacks were in lockstep with their opponents during the first frame, answering each goal scored by the Braves with one of their own. At 8:11, the Braves claimed the lead, but were answered back by Jacks Garrett Schultz (Trent Dundas, Ribeiro) just 20 seconds later. The Braves potted their second point of the match at 8:42, and Applejack Dundas (Uttley, Smith) eventually replied at 17:54, knotting the score up 2-2.

The two teams were dead even as the second period opened, but any hope of a close game quickly fell away. The Braves were able to pick up two more goals in the frame, including an unassisted shortie by forward Josh Borys. The third period saw the board mostly frozen in place at 4-2 until the final 30 seconds of the game, when the Braves scored yet again on the power play to end it at 5-2.

The following weekend was another .500, as the Jacks fell 4-1 to the Woodstock Navy Vets in their first game after Christmas, but edged out the Paris Mounties 4-2 the next night in their own barn.

Taking on the Navy Vets, the Jacks came out strong but lost their direction by the third period. Applejack Sparkes drew first blood with an unassisted power play at 12 minutes into the first, but the Navy Vets knotted things up less than a minute later, setting the board at 1-1 for much of the rest of the game.

There would be no scoring in the second, but things went wildly off track in the final frame when the Navy Vets took a dramatic lead. The Jacks couldn’t quite keep up when Vets scored on the power play at 8:33, and then again at 10:36. The Applejacks pulled netminder Hergott for some additional hustle on the ice, but that only allowed the Woodstock one more goal on an empty net for a final score of 4-1.

Back at home the following night on December 30 for the final game of 2017, the Jacks ended the year with a bang with a 4-2 victory against the Paris Mounties.

There would be no scoring in the opening stanza of the game, but things picked up for the Jacks in the second when Ribeiro (Uttley, Brick) finally found the back of the Mounties net at 2:47. The goal was followed by a second by Dundas, with  Smith and Brady Gerber picking up the assists.

Paris retaliated in the third just 40 seconds after the puck drop and knotted the score 2-2 with a second point at 1:21. The tie-breaker came just 20 seconds after that from newcomer Greg Huber (Will Martin), a former defenseman for the Port Hope Panthers, putting the Jacks back up one over their opponents.

It was a one-goal game right until the final 15 seconds of the match, when a vacated net by the Paris Mounties gave Sparkes (Nathan Smith) the perfect opportunity to end the game on a high note with a final goal, closing things out at 4-2 for the Jacks.

The season end is fast approaching for the Applejacks, and they will need some serious wins in the coming weeks to climb in the standings. Wellesley currently sits in fifth with a record of 17-13-1-1, a fair distance behind the Paris Mounties (20-10-0-1), followed by Woodstock Navy Vets (23-7-0-1). At the top of the division, the first-place Tavistock Braves (25-3-1-2) are neck and neck with the Ayr Centennials (25-4-0-2).

This weekend, the Jacks are playing two games at the Wellesley arena; on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Delhi (0-30), and Sunday afternoon, 2 p.m., versus Burford (3-38).

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