There was no holiday slowdown for the Napanee Raiders as they reeled off three straight wins to close out an extremely successful 2018 portion of their schedule.
On Sunday they blanked the Clarington Eagles 5-0 on the road in their first game back after the Christmas break. Prior to that they had shutout the Campbellford Rebels 10-0 at home on Dec. 23 and earned a hard fought 3-2 win at home Dec. 21 over the North Kawartha Knights.
Nicholas Nabuurs earned the shutout over Clarington on Sunday, stopping 28 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, tying the career high he set last season.
Cullen Hinds scored what ultimately turned out to be the game winner at the 11:02 mark of the first period, his first of three on the night. Brodie Maracle doubled the lead at 14:38 and Hinds had his second of the period at 17:51.
After a scoreless second, Hinds completed the hat trick just two minutes into the third and his seventh goal in his last five games played, doubling his total on the year to 14 in 16 games played. Ryan Casselman potted Napanee’s fifth goal at the 16:21 mark. For Casselman it was his league leading 24th goal on the year. He also leads the league with 56 points, four more than Amherstview’s Cody Smith.
With the win the Raiders swept their two scheduled meetings against the Orr Division Eagles after defeating them 6-1 back on Nov. 23.
The Raiders cruised to an easy victory in their final home game of the year, as Bailey Maracle turned away 16 shots in their 10-0 win over the Rebels.
Hinds and Brodie Maracle each potted a pair of goals while Casselman, Nelson Powers, Bailey Matthews, Cam Harris, Evan Foley and Jacob Murphy each had one.
It was a much different story in their Dec. 21 meeting with the Knights, as the Raiders had to survive a tense third period to hold on for their 3-2 win.
Devon King got the Raiders on the board at the 6:46 mark of the first and Casselman doubled the lead at 10:19.
In the second Brady Rawn, making his Raiders debut, scored what turned out to be a crucial goal just past the midway point of the second to give the Raiders a 3-0 lead.
Nabuurs meanwhile stopped 23 shots over the first two periods to help the Raiders take that lead into the final period.
The Knights finally broke through in the third when Matthew Wilbee scored just 1:31 into the period. He added another on a successful penalty shot at 6:26 to set up the nervous finish. Nabuurs slammed the door from there however, finishing the game with 36 save for the win. Neither team could get anything going on the power-play, as the Knights were 0-6 while the Raiders were 0-4.
The win marked a bit of a revenge for the Raiders, as the Knights stand as just one of two teams to defeat them this season. The Knights topped Napanee 6-3 at home way back on Sept. 23, Napanee’s third game of the season.
Napanee has now won five straight and finished the calendar year at 27-2-1 with 14 games to play in 2019 to close out the regular season. They’ll return to the ice Friday when they welcome the Port Perry Mojacks for a 7:30 p.m. meeting at the SPC. The Mojacks are 12-17-0-1 on the year, fifth in the Orr Division.
Meanwhile in their own division, the Raiders have a comfortable 16 point cushion on the second place Picton Pirates, who sit at 19-11-0-1 with 39 points. The red hot Amherstview Jets are closing in at 18-10-2, just one point back of second. The race for the final playoff spot figures to be an interesting one as well as the Gananoque Islanders and Port Hope Panthers sit tied with 20 points. The Islanders do have a game in hand however, having played 29 to Port Hope’s 30, with both scheduled to play 44 total. Both have nine wins of the year, though the Panthers have one more loss at 19 compared to 18. They have two overtime losses while the Islanders have one.
Campbellford meanwhile continues to take their lumps, now 1-31-0-1 on the year, 17 points out of a playoff spot.