Ben White’s third period goal was enough to lift the Napanee Raiders to a 2-1 victory over the Amherstview Jets in Friday’s PJHL Junior C season opener at the Strathcona Paper Centre.
White scored 3:42 into the final frame to break a 1-1 deadlock. Maverick Labrie drew the assist on the eventual game winner.
Offence was hard to come by as Napanee goalie Mitchell Bown matched his Jets counterpart Jeremy Piazzi almost save for save. Both netminders faced 28 shots on the night, with Bown making just one more block.
Johnny Wright scored Napanee’s first goal of the season, with help from Matthew Sheehy just passed the 13-minute mark of the first. Wright found the back of the net amid a traffic jam in front of the net to give the home team an early lead.
The celebration as short-lived however as Mathieu Halle knotted things at 1-1 just 31 seconds later. Elliott Belzile picked up the assist.
The Jets had their chances in the second, outshooting Napanee 10-6, but Bown stood tall. In the third the Raiders controlled the pace, firing 12 shots on net compared to Amherstview’s seven. Napanee’s blue line was able to limit the Jets’ chances over the final 20 minutes and made the one goal lead hold.
The Jets played discipline hockey for the most part, picking up just eight minutes of penalty minutes on five infractions compared to Napanee’s 26 minutes on six infractions-though a good chuck on that was 10 minutes assigned to Cameron Krupa for an abuse of an official and 10 minutes assigned to Blake Ellis for playing without a helmet chinstrap. The teams had offsetting penalties at the 19:31 mark of the third when Napanee’s Sheehy and Ethan Williams picked up roughing and interference penalties respectively while Amherstview’s Belzile and Brayden Robinson also picked up roughing penalties on the play, negating what could have been an ample power-play opportunity in the dying seconds of the game.
A total of 211 fans were on hand at the SPC to catch the season opener, the first regular season game played with fans in the stands since spring of 2020.
Napanee will be home again on Friday when they get their first look at the Frankford Huskies, who joined the league this off-season to fill a void left by the departed Gananoque Islanders. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. at the SPC. The next night the Raiders hit the road for the first time, travelling to Campbellford to take on the Rebels.