Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 16, 2024
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Back and forth

Pirates and Raiders take Quarterfinals to Game 6 on Thursday night in Picton
<p>Picton defender Jacob DaCosta spills Christos Chronis in Game 2 Thursday night. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)</p>
Picton defender Jacob DaCosta spills Christos Chronis in Game 2 Thursday night. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

It has been a thrilling opening act for the Picton Pirates through five games of the 2024 Provincial Junior Hockey League Schmalz Cup playoffs.

At the end of a handful of games between the locals and Napanee Raiders, the series was exactly where it was supposed to be with each team having stolen a game in their opposition’s rink.

The Pirates and the Raiders hook up on Thursday night in Picton for Game 6 of their Tod Division Quarterfinal series which promises to be a classic. Picton Captain Ian Harrison returns to the Picton lineup as the club looks to win and force a Game 7 the following evening in Napanee.

Game 5

Facing elimination, the Pirates got full credit for a gutsy effort in Napanee Tuesday and no Pirates stood out more than their rookie netminder Nic McGrayne. Out of competitive hockey for a couple of seasons, Mr. McGrayne has given the Pirates the goaltending they need to have a chance in this series and his body of work in Game 5 was exemplary.

Mr. McGrayne turned away 27 Napanee volleys as Picton downed the Raiders 3-1.

Mackenzie Moyer and Garrison Moore teamed up to spring Aiden Treverton for his first of the post season at 3:11 of the first.

On the ensuing shift after the first Picton goal, the Pirates marched back into Napanee territory and Nick Kirby fired home his second of the series thanks to a Parker Mattis set up.

Zack Brooks leads Picton goal scorers with three through five playoff games. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

In the second, Picton kept up the pace and Zack Brooks blasted home his third of the series at 4:38 giving the locals a 3-0 lead.

Later in the second, Cameron Krupa would tally for the home side at 16:21 but that was the only blemish on Mr. McGrayne’s outing.

Game 4

On Sunday at Huff Estates Arena, the Pirates were able to shake off an early Napanee goal but couldn’t manage to hold a mid-game two goal advantage.

After Andrew Carr gave the Raiders a lead 18 seconds into the hockey game, Jakob DaCosta would setup Mr. Kirby just over three minutes later.

Late in the first, the Pirates finally connected on the powerplay as Mr. Brooks pounded the puck past Napanee starter Logan Vale with 1:16 left in the period. Kirk Stevenson and Owen Findlay drew assists on the scoring play.

The Picton powerplay goal in the first might have paved the way for another man-advantage tally in the second as the Pirates slung the puck around the Raiders zone with authority at the midway point of the frame.

Mr. Brooks doubled down with his second of the game with helpers coming from Mr. Treverton and Cole Stevenson at 8:28 to push Picton to a 3-1 lead.

Unfortunately for the young Pirates, they couldn’t escape the frame with an advantage as Ben White collected a bouncing puck off the boards beat Mr. McGrayne to the near post at 16:14.

Mr. Carr’s second of the game just over two minutes later left the contest deadlocked at 3-3.

Neither team blinked for much of the third period and Mr. Vale and Mr. McGrayne went save for save.

A collision near the Picton net in the final two minutes that didn’t look like much other than incidental contact was whistled. Napanee wouldn’t miss on the late game power play as Mr. White found Connor Brooks lurking for a one time blast that beat Mr. McGrayne with 17 seconds left to make it 4-3. Brighton native Michael Patrick would score into an empty net to make it a 5-3 final.

Game 3

On Friday night at the Strathcona Paper Centre, Picton nearly stole home ice advantage taking a 1-0 lead into the third period.

Picton goaltender Nic McGrayne has provided his club with excellent goaltending services so far in the 2024 PJHL playoffs. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

After a scoreless first–Picton netminder Mr. McGrayne made 12 saves to keep his team alive–the Pirates struck in the second. Wellington native Reese Kleinsteuber took a Luc Amat pass and beat Raiders goalie Logan Vale at the 8:48 mark of second. Picton had a number of power play chances to double their lead including a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity but they couldn’t solve Mr. Vale.

Mr. McGrayne was rock solid through the 60 minutes of a pressure packed Game 3 and rewarded Pirates coach Ian Brooks for having faith in the rookie goaltender.

But the Raiders finally beat the Picton goalie at 5:17 when Whitby native Christos Chronis lit the lamp and set the SPC on its ear.

Napanee got its first lead of the game with 7:19 left in the contest when Ryan Kidd set up Mr. McGrayne’s Ontario Amateur Softball Association battery mate Mr. Brooks. Unfortunately for Picton, the effort from Mr. Brooks wasn’t a fastball but a fast puck and left one member of the Napanee Express elated and another crestfallen.

Picton lifted their goalie in the late stages but Napanee would fire a puck into the vacated vestibule for a 3-1 final. Mr. McGrayne turned in a masterful effort for the locals as they were outshot 40-23.

Game 2

On Thursday, Picton would come from behind and, thanks to Mr. McGrayne and the Stevenson brothers, they were 2-1 winners in overtime

Napanee broke the ice in the first when Mr. Chronis found Mr. Kidd at the 7:43 of the first.

Picton found the equalizer late in the second. After coming close to beating Mr. Vale a few times, Mr. Kleinsteuber found Kirk Stevenson cruising to the slot area and the Trenton native went top bunk to beat Mr. Vale with 4:22 left in the middle stanza tying it 1-1. Mr. Amat also picked up an assist.

Neither team scored in the third and Mr. McGrayne was sensational, keeping the Raiders from pulling ahead, making 14 saves to keep the Raiders in place.

(Left) Cole Stevenson lifted Picton to an overtime win on Thursday. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Early into the extra session, Picton managed to come off with a muddled offensive zone faceoff with the puck. Cole Stevenson spun out of the corner with the disc and handcuffed Mr. Vale at the 4:20 mark to set off a wild celebration at Huff Estates Arena. Mr. Kirby and Mr. Mattis drew helpers on the play.

Game 1

On Tuesday, Picton dropped the opener 4-1. The Pirates opened the scoring at 4:15 when Ian Harrison and Logan Calder worked to set up Gerrit Kempers at 4:15 to give Picton a 1-0 lead.

Raider veteran Ben White tied it 37 seconds into the second and Blake Aylesworth would push the hosts ahead with a power play goal at 13:19 of the second.

Up 2-1, Napanee got a key insurance goal off the stick of Reid Lambert at 8:57.

It was late in the third when Mr. Harrison was felled at centre ice with an undetected spear. That led to the Picton captain skating hard into the Raiders end on the forecheck and spilling Napanee starter Ethan Babin and drawing a major penalty for his troubles. Mr. Harrison picked up a four game suspension.

Mr. Aylesworth added a second tally on the power play in the late going to make it a 4-1 final.

Dukes win finale

In Wellington Dukes news, the club capped off the season with a clutch road win in Leamington Thursday. With the game tied at 2-2 into the second overtime, Nick Dipaolo set up Wellington Capitan Dimitri-Alexander Tzaferis at the 5:49 mark to make the locals winners in their first ever visit to the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre. Ryan Schaap and Corey Jewitt also scored for Wellington.

On Friday, the Flyers were shot down by host St. Mikes 4-1 and the Buzzers moved into a tie with Wellington (35-18-3, 73 points) in the standings, setting up a potential tie break scenario.

But such a tie break scenario wasn’t needed as the Buzzers beat the Jr. Canadiens and pushed past the Dukes on the final night of the 2023-24 OJHL Regular season.

The result means the Dukes will open at home against the Jr. Canadiens Friday night at 7:30 p.m. for Game 1 of the 2024 Buckland Cup playoffs. The Dukes are in Toronto at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday for Game 2. The rest of the series is as follows: Game 3 Tuesday @ Wellington 7 p.m.; Game 4 Thursday @ Toronto 7:45 p.m.; *Game 5 Saturday @ Wellington 4 p.m; *Game 6 Sunday @ Toronto 7:15 p.m.; *Game 7 Wednesday @ Wellington 7 p.m.

*Denotes if necessary

Editor’s note: This story, appearing in the March 6, 2024 edition of the Picton Gazette, has been changed to reflect more recent results.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 10 edition of The Picton Gazette
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