An ugly third period collapse in Tuesday’s Game 4 in Amherstview has the Napanee Raiders’ dream season circling the drain.
Napanee coughed up four goals in a five minute span to close out the game, turning a 5-3 lead into a 7-5 loss. They now trail the upstart Jets 3-1 in the best-of-seven semifinal series.
The Raiders seemingly took control of the back-and-forth affair in the third when Sebastian Kilcommons scored his third goal of the game to put his team up 4-3. Riley Steeves added another to give the Raiders some insurance with just over 14 minutes to go in the game.
It all fell apart at the 14:15 mark however as Amherstview’s James O’Brien, Zach Maciel and Ty Norman each potted a goal within a three minute span, much to the delight of a boisterous hometown crowd. Norman added an empty-netter in the dying seconds to ice the victory.
Napanee continued to look like a completely different club than the one that just two weeks ago wrapped up a record setting, 37 win season. Only five times in the regular season did they allow four goals in a game, let alone a five minute span.
After gutting out a less-than-pretty 3-1 victory in Game 1, the Raiders have now dropped three straight to the Jets. In the regular season they never lost consecutive games.
In Game 2 on Friday night at the SPC the Jets held on for a 4-3 victory. They never trailed in the game, building a 2-0 lead courtesy of Norman and O’Brien in the first. They tacked on two more in the second and then held off a late charge from the Raiders. Austin Labelle scored twice for Napanee while Griffen Conger added one early in the third, but they couldn’t complete the comeback.
In Game 3 the series shifted to Amherstview where Jets once again used early offense, potting the game’s first three goals and then withstood a pair of third period goals from the Raiders for a 3-2 win.
Jets goalie Alexel Masanko has stolen the show through the first four games, stymying the vaunted Raiders offense and holding them to just 3.30 goals a game, half their regular season output. He’s started all four games for the Jets.
Nicholas Nabuurs has started three of the four games for Napanee while taking over for Jeremy Piazzi in Game 2. His GAA sits at 3.20 for the series, a stark contrast to the league leading 1.58 he averaged in the regular season.
The Raiders now face the task of having to win three straight if they’re to advance to the league finals for a showdown with the Port Hope Panthers. They’ll begin that quest Friday night when they host the Jets at the SPC for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. A Raider win would prolong the series to Game 6, which would go Sunday in Amherstview at 7:30 p.m. A winner-take-all Game 7 would go Tuesday in Napanee at 7:30 p.m.