The Wellesley Applejacks closed the book on another disappointing season last weekend, dropping a pair of games against Thamesford and Burford.
The Jacks were playing out the remainder of the season after missing the playoffs.
On Feb. 12, Wellesley built up a 3-0 lead courtesy of a shorthanded goal by Justin Roeder in the first period and a pair at even strength from Rob Hinschberger and Rob Martin in the first half of the second.
Thamesford’s John Garbe scored a pair midway through the second frame to put the Trojans on the board before Pat Doyle and Matt Aspden scored a shorthanded goal each to reinforce the lead.
The Trojans came back with three goals late in the second, two of them on the power play, to even the score at five apiece.
Early in the third, Wellesley’s Geoff Parr picked up penalties for tripping and cross checking and a double minor for roughing all on one play. Thamesford capitalized with a pair of goals on the ensuing power play to take a 7-5 lead.
Aspden and Hinschberger each scored a second goal to even things at seven apiece, but Thamesford’s Darryl Karpel found the mesh for the game winner. With Wellesley chasing a tying goal, the Trojans put a pair in the empty net to make it 10-7.
“We shot ourselves in the foot Friday night,” said coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “We had a 5-2 lead and proceeded to take a number of bad penalties. … It’s disappointing, and it reflects badly on the whole team.”
On Saturday, the Jacks hosted Burford for their final game of the season. Wellesley again drew first blood with a goal from Rob Martin a mere 19 seconds into the first period.
Burford answered back in just as swiftly, scoring 56 seconds in to give the teams one apiece. The Bulldogs moved in front with a goal from Dallas Boakes at 16:25 but it was another short-lived lead, as Roeder scored for the Jacks 33 seconds later.
Burford reclaimed the lead in the dying seconds of the first period, capitalizing on a defensive breakdown in Wellesley’s end to move in front 3-2.
The Bulldogs widened the lead six minutes into the second period, flicking the puck up and over keeper Luke Zehr. At 10:16, Mike Moggy fed the puck to Read Shantz, who found Eric Parr with a pass. Parr put the rubber away for a clean power play goal, bringing the Jacks within one. And that was where the score stayed for the rest of the game, as neither team was able to beat the opposing keeper.
Fitzpatrick was disappointed with the way the season ended, noting it’s the first year in his time coaching the Jacks that the team hasn’t made the playoffs.
The Jacks have fallen on hard times in the past few years; the team exited the playoffs in the first round the past three seasons. Last year, they were guaranteed a playoff spot in the four-team Bauer conference; with the addition of Port Stanley this year, they needed to edge out another team and couldn’t.
However, Fitzpatrick contended that the team’s 7-23-6 record doesn’t fully describe a season that was plagued with freak injuries and bouts of the flu, where it seemed the team couldn’t catch a break.
“Our record doesn’t indicate the way we’ve played all year,” he said. “They could have used a lot of things as crutches and excuses and they didn’t.”
There were also some positives to come out of this season, including a re-energized executive, affiliation with the Elmira Sugar Kings, and interest from prospective players.
“One thing we didn’t have last year – I’ve got kids calling, good kids that want to come here and play,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ll just keep plugging away. Although we’re disappointed this season ended, it’s pretty exciting thinking about what we’ve got going on for next year already.”