By Adam Prudhomme
For the past three seasons, Port Hope’s Jack Burger Sports Complex has been a house of horrors for any team tasked with trying to defeat the Panthers on home ice.
The script was flipped on Saturday night, however, as the Napanee Raiders stunned the home team with a 5-1 victory. That snapped the Panthers’ 23-game home unbeaten streak, which stretched back to a 2-1 loss to Amherstview on Feb 8. 2016. The Raiders hadn’t won a game in Port Hope since a 4-3 OT win back on Jan. 24, 2015.
It looked like it would be the same old story on Saturday when Port Hope’s Kevin Lemaitre scored just two minutes into the game. That was all they’d get, however, as the Raiders went on to score five unanswered, starting with a power-play goal from Tyler Ignazzitto at the 7:08 mark. He was at it again on the power-play less than two minutes into the second, scoring what would hold up as the game winner. Newcomer Sebastian Kilcommons added another on the power-play midway through the second for a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
Few visiting teams have held a lead going into the third and even fewer have managed to hang onto them, but the Raiders did so with authority, adding two more courtesy of Josh Murphy just one minute into the frame and another from Kilcommons at the 4:10 mark. Nicholas Nabuurs took it from there, stopping 35 shots on the night for the win.
Penalties were a major factor in the game as the Panthers racked up 93 minutes on 19 infractions, allowing the Raiders to score three times on five power plays. Napanee was charged with 37 minutes worth of penalties but managed to kill off all seven power plays. There was plenty of rough stuff with Napanee’s Ryan Casselman getting ejected for checking from behind late in the first and Port Hope’s Andrew Gurr and Napanee’s Jake Campbell picking up a fighting major with just under a minute to go in the first. In the second, Port Hope’s Nathan Snoek and Greg Powles were both handed abuse of an official misconduct while Lemaitre was given a head contact misconduct.
The win gives Napanee four in a row after their season-opening loss to Port Hope at home by the same 5-1 score.
Prior to traveling to Port Hope, the Raiders picked up a gritty 4-1 win over the visiting Picton Pirates on Friday night.
Both teams traded goals throughout the opening 40 minutes with Picton’s Justin Arnold scoring 14:23 into the first and Napanee’s Griffen Conger answering in the second with a power-play goal at 3:47.
The Raiders put it away in the third when Murphy battled behind the net to control a loose puck and scored the eventual game winner at the two minute mark. Riley Steeves buried an insurance tally at 5:37 and Casselman iced the win with an empty-netter. Jeremy Piazzi picked up the win, stopping 44 Pirate attempts.
The Raiders hit the road to take on the Pirates on Thursday night and then return home to host the Campbellford Rebels on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. for both contests.