As the Napanee Raiders were on the ice in Picton battling their way to a 3-1 victory in Game 2 over the Pirates on Thursday night, Hockey Canada released a statement declaring all sanctioned events would be cancelled, effective Friday.
That means the Junior C Tod Division finals, which falls under the umbrella of Hockey Canada, were effectively paused ahead of Friday’s scheduled Game 3 in Napanee. When-or even if-the playoffs would resume is unknown.
“We’re sure hoping that wasn’t our last for the season with the imminent COVID-19 suspension of activities,” a statement reads of the Napanee Raiders’ official Twitter page. “But that’s out of our hands right now. Thanks for your support raider fans. Hope to see you all soon.”
What is known, is the Raiders took the 2-0 series lead after a second period rally in Picton on Thursday.
Picton’s Will Harrison put the home team up 1-0 with an unassisted goal just 4:33 into the game.
Perhaps the rust of a nearly one-week layoff between Game 1 and 2 slowed the Raiders over the opening 20 minutes, but by the second they had found their legs. After mustering just nine shots on goal in the opening frame, Napanee peppered 16 at Picton keeper Kyle Renaud. Their persistence was rewarded when Reid Humphrey broke through with the tying goal at 13:39. Justynn Steven picked up the assist.
Less than a minute later Marshall McFarland potted the go ahead goal with help from Liam Mroueh and Soren Zamuner.
Napanee clung to the 2-1 lead the rest of the game, icing the victory when Humphrey scored on the empty net with a minute and a half left in regulation.
The Pirates played an extremely disciplined game, earning just two minutes worth of penalties in the entire game. Napanee meanwhile was accessed 14 minutes on three infractions. Picton had the only power-play of the game, but went away empty-handed.
Bailey Maracle continued his outstanding playoffs in net for Napanee, stopping 21 shots to secure the win. Renaud’s only blip came during the one minute stretch when he allowed both goals. He finished with 27 saves in the losing effort.
And now, just two wins away from repeating as league champions and beginning a quest for a second straight Schmalz Cup, the Raiders join countless teams across North America in a holding pattern awaiting word on the next steps. Whether the playoffs will resume and in what format will almost certainly depend on the length of the stoppage.