Raiders sign Napanee’s Matthew Airhart

Matthew Airhart donned a Napanee Raiders jersey after signing with the team ahead of the 2024-25 Junior C season. Photo by Napanee Raiders.

Adam Prudhomme

Following in the skate strides of his dad, Matthew Airhart has signed with the Napanee Raiders for the upcoming Junior C PJHL hockey season.

The 16-year-old Airhart will have the opportunity to don the same jersey his dad Mike did in his playing days, while also representing the team on which his grandfather Chuck served as an executive.

For the Raiders this isn’t just a case of nostalgia but rather a huge signing as they reap the benefit of adding a local Ontario Hockey League calibre forward to their team. In April Airhart was drafted in the fifth round by the London Knights after wrapping up a career with the Quinte Red Devils. Prior to advancing to AAA, he got his start in hockey with the Napanee Stars.

With a handful of options before him this offseason, he chose to stay close to home this fall as he continues his hockey development.

“I wasn’t ready to move away from home quite yet,” Airhart was quoted as saying on the Napanee Raiders website. “I wanted to stay around Napanee and play for a good organization. I’m excited to make that step and play a year at home.”

He noted the chance to play for the team he grew up watching was a big factor as well.

“It’s extremely exciting. I’ve always been around the team. Ever since I was young, I always looked at it as ‘the big league.’ Lots of people have probably seen me (at the games) with my buddies in the corner supporting them,” said Airhart. “I’m very excited to represent Napanee wearing the Raiders logo.”

Airhart is coming off a season that saw him post 16 goals with 20 assists as a member of the Red Devils, while also wearing the ‘C’. He’ll now slot into a lineup that is expected to return two-thirds of the roster that captured a Tod Division title and pushed the Clarington Eagles to six games in the Schmalz Cup Eastern Conference Finals.

“The Napanee Raiders are proud to continue to develop players that improve and live up to our culture of on- and — most importantly — off-ice excellence, and Matthew will do just that,” Raiders head coach Ben Hagerman told the team’s website.

The Raiders offseason will continue with recruitment ahead of their Aug. 25 training camp.

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