Two of the more consistent tells of a young and fresh junior hockey club are how they manage momentum swings and how drastic the chasm between their level of focus at home and on the road.
Teams without much experience tend to play a more complete game on the road. Less distractions. Without the pressures of playing for a home crowd, the onus is on the host to do what’s expected – that being win. Visiting teams can stay loose and let bounces materialize.
Young teams can also be prone to playing an opponent step-for-step and then not being able to push back after a tough goal. Goals tend to come in bunches and not in a good way.
Both instances came back to haunt the Picton Pirates on Thursday night as the visiting Napanee Raiders took control of a tied hockey game inside the final five minutes of the second period en route to a 7-3 win.
Down 2-1 after the first, the Pirates did well on an early power play in the second. Gerrit Kempers scored his sixth of the season at the four minute mark thanks to help from Rheydan McCoy and Zach Brooks, sliding the puck under Napanee starter Logan Vale.
The Pirates would get a number of good looks on Vale and seemed poised to take the lead at multiple points over the period and Mr. Vale picked the puck off the goal line more than once to keep the game tied.
But a bounding shot and then a bullet was Picton’s undoing. Trent Williams would get a knuckling puck through Pirates starter Nic McGrayne at 17:28. And if Mr. Williams’ shot was the local, Ben Carter came to the top of the circle just 28 seconds later with the express, ripping a puck past the Picton goalie to double the Raiders lead to 4-2.
In the third, the Raiders once again used quick strikes to put the contest out of reach. Marshall McFarland would tickle the twine at 2:33 and just 1:20 later, Blake Aylesworth’s fourth of the year made it 6-2 Raiders.
Ben White tacked on Napanee’s seventh goal of the eveining at 8:48.
In the late going, Picton’s Jack Osborne would beat Mr. Vale with just under five minutes to play to make it a 7-3 final. Ian Harrison had Picton’s opening goal in the first – a power play marker set up by Cole Lavender.
The Pirates are back on the ice Thursday, Nov. 16 when they host the Amherstview Jets.