The Wellesley Applejacks ended their regular season last weekend with a loss, a shootout win and an overtime loss before heading into the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
On Feb. 12, the Applejacks headed to Ayr for a chippy contest that saw the two teams rack up 70 minutes in penalties.
After a scoreless first period, Wellesley took a 2-0 lead with goals from Dan Berwick and Chris Armstrong. The Centennials got on the board at the end of the second and then tied things up early in the third.
Read Shantz notched one midway through the third to give Wellesley the lead again, but Ayr tied the game up just over a minute later. Ayr ended things with a goal 33 seconds into overtime, taking home the win.
The Centennials followed the Applejacks back to Wellesley for a rematch the following night. The first period ended tied 1-1, and Ayr took the lead in the second frame, building it up to 3-1 before Armstrong scored his second of the game. The Centennials added one more with a minute and a half to go, and the second period ended 4-2.
Berwick and Scott Hanley found the mesh in the third period to tie the game up, forcing overtime and then a shootout. Ayr’s three shooters fired blanks, while Berwick knocked one past the keeper to take the win.
On Valentine’s Day the Applejacks faced Thamesford, the team they’ll meet in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
Wellesley’s strong penalty killing performance against Ayr – they gave up only one goal on 15 chances over the two nights – came to an end Saturday, as Thamesford scored all three of their goals on the power play.
Wellesley was first on the board with a power play goal from Eric Parr five minutes into the first. Travis Parkin answered back for Thamesford with the first power play goal at the 13-minute mark, and the first period ended 1-1.
Five minutes into the second period and killing off another penalty, Armstrong snagged the puck and blasted a slap shot past Thamesford’s Geoff Blandford for a shorthanded goal.
The Jacks held the lead until the final minute of the second frame. With a little less than two minutes to go, Hanley was handed a slashing penalty and Josh Van Eck scored for Thamesford to put the teams even at two apiece.
At 4:28 in the third, with Berwick in the box for cross-checking, Mark Gibson put one away unassisted to give Thamesford the lead. The Jacks battled hard for the rest of the period, but the game ended 3-2 in Thamesford’s favour.
“I think we played a very good game,” said head coach John Tsai after Saturday’s matchup. “We’ve played our best the last four games of the season and that’s the time to do it, going into the playoffs.”
Tsai was happy with the team’s defensive effort, noting they’ve cut down on goals against, but acknowledged that penalty killing is a problem area.
“The entire coaching staff, we’re on these guys all the time about limiting the unnecessary penalties,” he said.
The Applejacks ended the season with a record of 9-23-8, but Tsai said they’re putting that behind them as they head into the playoffs.
The Jacks open the playoffs in Thamesford Friday night before travelling to Wellesley for game two Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.