There were white knuckle moments for bench boss Jeff Diamond this weekend but, in the end, the Picton Pirates picked up all six points available to them and moved to .500 for the first time this season.
Picton started off the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Campbellford Rebels and then made it two win in a row on Saturday night, knocking off Tod Division-leading Frankford at the Husky den, scoring three goals in the third to hand the Huskies their first loss at home in 2023-24.
With the three straight wins, Picton is 5-5-1 this season and leapfrogged the Napanee Raiders Sunday to pull into fourth place in the division.
On Sunday in Campbellford trailing the Rebels 2-1 late in the contest, the Pirates came sailing back with a pair of late goals to win 3-2 to keep the hosts winless this season.
Down 1-0 after 40 minutes, Picton’s Luc Amat collected a Nick Kirby pass and scored a shorthanded goal 4:08 into the frame to tie the game 1-1.
Campbellford re-established their lead two and half minutes later, setting the stage for some Picton heroics. Afforded a power play with five and half minutes left to play, Gerrit Kempers would fire home an equalizer thanks to help from Rheydan McCoy and Zach Brooks make it 2-2.
Then, at the 16:10 mark, Mr. Kempers would set up Mr. McCoy for the game winning tally.
Picton’s Nic McGrayne made 32 saves for his third win of the season.
The script calling for late, game breaking scoring ,was the same for Picton a night earlier in Frankford.
The Huskies, with just one tick in the loss column thus far might have been sleeping on the Bucs when the Pirate ship sailed into Frankford. But it would be the hosts licking their wounds after the visitors scored three times in the final 20 minutes to break a 2-2 deadlock and skate away 5-2 winners.
It was another brilliant performance for Picton’s Ethan Schwarz who made 45 saves and kept the Huskies at bay in the third, stopping all 15 volleys sent his way.
Picton has also been getting great milage out of rookie Amat. The Roblin native has five goals and six assists in his first 10 PJHL games and has a penchant for scoring in key moments. Once again, it was Mr. Amat proving to be a game breaker Saturday.
With the game tied and locals on a power play with under four minutes left, the Napanee Minor Hockey grad would play trigger man, taking a Cole Lavender feed with 3:31 left in the game to provide Picton its first lead of the contest and sucking the air out of the McMullen Recreation Centre.
With the Huskies poised to lose at the den for the first time this campaign, netminder Dean Spry was lifted for an extra attacker but Mr. McCoy ended any comeback contemplations with his first of the year into a gaping Frankford cage. Mr. Amat wasn’t done and doubled down with an empty netter of his own with 58 seconds left.
Mr. Amat was in on Picton’s other two tallies, helping set up both Mr. Kirby and Mr. Brooks in the second.
At home Thursday, the Pirates gave up goals in the first and 59th minute to Campbellford but those bookends weren’t enough to keep Picton from writing up their third win.
Down 1-0 into the final five minutes of the first, Mr. Lavender took a pass on the blue line from Mr. Amat and fired home his first at 15:19.
Under a minute later, Mr. Brooks would make a beautiful pass from the visitor’s blueline to find Mr. Amat streaking to the Rebels net and it was 2-1 after the opening stanza. In the second Picton would extend the lead to 3-1 as Mack Moyer set up Mr. Kirby at 15:58.
In the third, Kirk Stevenson would fire home his first junior hockey goal off a pass from Mr. McCoy and and good work from (who else?) Mr. Amat to make it 4-1. The Rebels’ R.J. Jackson would score with 45 seconds left off a breakaway to make the final 4-2. Picton’s Mr. McGrayne was the winning goalie.
The Pirates stay busy this weekend, hosting Campbellford on Thursday and playing in Frankford and Amherstview on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.