Playing in their first game in about seven months, the Napanee Raiders and Amherstview Jets each earned 4-3 victories Sunday night inside a nearly empty W.J. Henderson Arena.
Playing under extremely modified rules, the clubs played two shortened games in an effort to get as many players as possible into a game setting, all while adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines. The exhibition matchups counted for nothing towards any sort of standings, but were still considered a huge step forward towards returning to a meaningful game setting. Each team was limited to 11 players dressed and on the bench at a time. There were no face-offs or body checking and it was played under run-time rules.
In the first game the Jets jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on goals from Ty Norman and Brayden Robinson.
Napanee rallied in the second half with Isaac Brown and Chris Edwards responding for the visitors. After Napanee’s Devon King and Amherstview’s Norman’s traded goals with six minutes left to play, Beckett Palmer-Stephen scored late to give the Raiders the 4-3 victory. Bailey Maracle earned the win in net while Brady Sarazin turned in a strong effort in the loss.
After an ice flood, the two teams returned with a different set of players and got started with their second game of the night.
This time the Jets flipped the script and skated to a 4-3 win of their own.
Zac McMahon opened the scoring on a penalty shot in the dying seconds of the first to give the Jets the early lead.
Noah Westwater made good on a penalty shot for Napanee shortly before Cam Krupa put the Raiders up 2-1.
Jakob Leonard netted a pair of goals in quick succession to retake the lead for the home team. Ben White tipped in a Westwater point shot to tie the game with 6:45 left to play.
Amherstview’s Elliott Belzile potted the eventual game winner with just under four minutes left to play. Carter Page earned the win while Mitch Bown took the loss.
The two clubs are scheduled to continue their exhibition series on Nov. 29 in Amherstview. On Dec. 4 the series will shift to Napanee. At this point in time there are no fans permitted to attend the games. The league is tentatively aiming for a Jan. 1 season start date, though no schedule has been set and that date remains a very best case scenario.