Home ice was paramount in the mini-weekend series between the Napanee Raiders and Gananoque Islanders, as each side claimed victory in their own barn.
On Friday the Raiders, sporting their special pink-in-the-rink jerseys, squeaked out a 4-3 victory at the SPC before falling 7-3 Sunday in Gananoque.
Much like Friday’s game, it was anyone’s match heading into the third of Sunday’s tilt.
The Raiders entered the final frame down a goal but managed to tie just 1:54 into the third courtesy a goal from captain Justynn Steven to knot it at 3-3.
The wheels fell off from there however as Gananoque’s Ryan Radisa scored just over a minute later to ignite a string of four unanswered Islander goals. Aiden Johnson scored on the power-play at 12:37 and Radisa completed the hat trick with goals at 13:38 and 16:49 to ice the victory.
Earlier in the game Napanee’s Brodie Maracle scored twice in the second period to keep it close, each time tying the game after the Islanders had taken a one goal lead. Try as they might in the third however, the Raiders just couldn’t slow Gananoque’s offense over the final frame.
Mitch Bown took the loss, stopping 27 of 34. Jeremy Piazzi earned the win with 42 stops.
The loss halted Napanee’s four-game win streak.
That streak had just been pushed to four games following Napanee’s 4-3 win on Friday. The start of the game was delayed about an hour as the Islanders’ team bus was caught in traffic on Hwy 401 due to wandering cattle.
When the game did get underway, the two teams made it worth the wait with a tense possible playoff preview.
Gananoque struck first when Nicholas Babcock scored 12:24 into the first. Maracle responded at 17:01 only to see Gananoque’s Kyle Cassford restore the lead with just over a minute to play in the period.
In the second Napanee’s Aidan McFarland and Nic Case each netted a goal to build a 3-3 lead heading into the third.
Gananoque’s Roman Cannell tied the game 6:37 into the third only to see Napanee’s Evan Foley offset that goal with one of his own just over a minute later.
Foley’s goal would stand as the game winner as neither side was able to find the back of the net over the final 12 minutes.
Bailey Maracle earned the win with 23 saves while Piazzi took the loss with 35 saves.
Throughout Friday’s game fans had the opportunity to place bids on the Raiders’ game worn pink jerseys, with proceeds going to Lennox and Addington County General Hospital’s chemo unit.
On Wednesday the Raiders traveled to Port Hope to play a make up of their Dec. 1 game which was postponed due to weather.
A three goal third period helped power the Raiders to a 6-3 victory.
Mackenzie Warren, Logan White, McFarland and Noah Westwater each had a goal while Steven had two.
Mitch Bown made 24 saves for the win while Michael Nckolav took the loss, facing 37 pucks.
Following Sunday’s game the Raiders now have just eight games left in the regular season, only three of which are at home.
They’ll play one of those home games on Friday when they welcome the Panthers to the SPC. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday they’ll return the favour and visit Port Hope. They’ll then play a rare Tuesday road game, as they take on the Campbellford Rebels in another make up game.
A playoff berth already locked up, the Raiders need just two points to clinch first place in the Tod Division.
They lead the league at 29-4-1-2 (61 points). Amherstview is second at 22-12-2 (46), technically tied with the 22-12-2 Picton Pirates, though the Jets have two games in hand. Gananoque has begun to pull away with the final playoff spot at 18-14-1-4 (41).
Port Hope is chasing the playoffs at 15-15-3-3, five back of fourth place. The Rebels continue to play out the string in last at 1-32-0-2 (four).