The Wellesley Applejacks got the New Year off on the right foot as they rallied to defeat the visiting Burford Bulldogs 5-4 in a shootout on Wednesday night.
The team may want to resolve to have a better start to their games than they showed in this one, though. The Bulldogs scored two goals less than a minute apart early in the first period to get the jump on the Jacks, forcing them to play catch-up all night.
The first goal came on a scramble in front of Wellesley keeper Kurt Martin at 3:35, and the second was a goal that Martin certainly wanted back after a harmless looking shot from the blue line somehow evaded his blocking arm and found the back of the net at 4:19.
Wellesley managed to shake that poor start, and began to assert themselves in the second half of the first period.
Tim Stern scored his first of the season at 15:08 from Michael Forster and Justin Milne, and Read Shantz tied it on a nice cross-ice pass from Forster at 18:27.
Burford outshot Wellesley 15-9 in the frame, and Martin made several key saves to atone for the soft goal early on.
“Kurt’s the type of kid where if he lets in a bad goal you don’t have to worry about one turning into two, three, four,” said head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “He’s able to shake it off and that’s why he’s one of the best goalies in the league.
“He always gives us the opportunity to win, and that’s what you want out of your goalie.”
Wellesley really took control about halfway through the second period after killing off a couple of 5-on-3 penalties without allowing any quality scoring chances. Those penalty kills seemed to inject new life into the Jacks bench.
“Our penalty killing was really good, as it has been all year. Our guys just seem to feed off things like that,” Fitzpatrick said.
Matt Aspden scored for the Jacks, assisted by Josh Herd. Dallas Boakes then responded for the Bulldogs. Burford again had the edge in shots throughout the period, however, and held a decisive 34-17 advantage heading into the third.
In the final frame, the game quieted down as each team only had one minor penalty each, but Burford made their time count as Matt Cartmel scored on the powerplay at 6:37 with Stephen Lewtas in the box for interference. The
Jacks would not go easily in their own barn, however, and Bobby Gray tied the game at 12:50 from Aspden and Ben Ahier.
The five-minute overtime solved nothing and the game had to be resolved in a shootout. Michael Forster was the lone scorer on the night for Wellesley as they escaped with a hard-fought 5-4 win. Martin rebounded from the first period to make 46 saves to earn the victory.
“I thought it was a pretty gutsy effort. We ended up with three forwards playing defence and one had never played in his life,” said Fitzpatrick, whose lineup has been decimated by illness.
The match was the make-up game for the cancelled home-opener back on Oct. 9, rescheduled due to bad ice.
The Jacks issued a thank-you to their fans for coming out to support the team at their annual teddy bear toss game back on Dec. 29. They collected 117 bears in their 4-3 victory over Ayr.