The Picton Pirates are pushing through to round two of the 2023 Schmalz Cup playoffs.
The locals kept up their stingy defence and solid team play without the puck on Tuesday night in a 2-0 shutout win over the host Campbellford Rebels in Game 4 of their Tod Division quarter finals series.
The win gave Picton a sweep of the Rebels in a series where the Pirates net minders Ethan Beattie and Brady Spry posted back-to-back road shutouts.
Spray made 35 saves in a winning effort Tuesday and, overall, the Pirates surrendered just three goals in four games.
“Play without the puck, team defence and play in our defensive zone are important in playoffs,” Pirates coach Kyle Hawkins Schulz said. “We did a good job limiting goals against and getting the puck back efficiently and the blue line group was really strong in the series. Our goaltending has been the consistent throughout the year and was no different in round one.”
Whether the Bucs wanted it or not, the club got in some work practicing their penalty kill down the stretch during Game 4.
Zack Brooks opened the scoring just 1:39 into the game, taking a Landon McLellan feed in the slot and beating Rebels starter Keaton Lyons five hole.
A little later, Ian Harrison would bag his second point of the period and second goal of the series when Trot Davis’s pass deflected off Harrison’s shin pad at 7:56 to make it 2-0 Picton.
After a Game 2 fracas that saw multiple suspensions handed out, the OHA officiating crew kept a tight lid on the action and Picton found themselves shorthanded six times over the final 40 minutes.
But Spry was more than solid in net and the blue line corps of Cole Lavender, Rhydan McCoy, Caleb Martin, Davis and Hunter Matthysse did yeoman’s work in keeping the Rebels at bay.
Despite being shorthanded for a good chunk of the game, Picton still managed 42 shots on Lyons who kept his club in the contest until the waning moments.
Despite missing a game in the series, McLellan led the way with six points in three games while rookie Gerrit Kempers lit the lamp five times to lead Picton’s goal parade.
While he was denied getting on the score sheet in Game 4, goal opportunities continued to come to the rookie’s line.
“Games this time of year are tighter, mistakes are magnified and opportunities are at a premium,” the coach added. “Offence comes in timely fashions and Kempers’s play in a pivotal Game 3 was just a continuation of his strong finish to the regular season.”
In three games, Spry had three wins, a Goals Against Average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .966.
After surviving a scare in Game 1 on Thursday where Picton escaped with a 3-2 win, the stingy Pirates defence and timely net minding allowed the locals to win a pair of decisive Games 2 and 3.
In Game 2, the Pirates went on to blank the host Rebels 5-0 thanks to a 26 save performance by Ethan Beattie.
The following evening in Picton, Spry came within 3:15 of posting his first post season shutout as the Pirates went on to win 5-1.
In Game 3, the Pirates were powered by some Prince Edward County-born firepower as starry rookie Gerrit Kempers fired home four of Picton’s five goals in order.
In the first, the Ameliasburgh native batted a loose puck past Rebels starter Brayden Friedrich about six minutes into the game.
Ahead 1-0 after one, Kempers was at it again in the second. Consecon’s Nick Kirby would set up the fellow County Kings alum at 13:31 to make it 2-0. Then, Kempers would bury a nice Jack Dow feed inside the final minute of the second to clinch the natural hat trick.
Early in the third while killing a penalty, Kempers would show a nose for the net on a partial breakaway, putting a nice move to get clear of a Campbellford checker and then sliding the puck over the Rebels goal line foe his fourth tally of the game and fifth of the post season.
“There aren’t enough words to explain Gerrit’s development this season,” Pirates General Manager Jason Parks said. “He isn’t slowing down in the post season and its an incredible run that he’s on.”
Up 4-0, Picton would add a power play goal at 13:13 as Rheydan McCoy fired home his first of the post season.
With time winding down, Campbellford captain Aiden Terverton would pick the corner on Spry to break up the shut out bid at the 16:45 mark of the third.
Picton’s defence and netminding was stellar in Game 2 as Beattie came up big for the Pirates time and again.
The Pirates got off to a good start early in the frame when McCoy and Nate Woods combined to set up Kirby for his first of the playoffs at 2:17.
Woods would get his second helper of the frame when he made a nifty behind the back pass to Landon McLellan with just 19 seconds left in the first.
Up 2-0 after one, Kempers would get the jump on the Rebels in the second, converting a Cole Stevenson pass just 15 seconds in.
Picton captain Landon McLellan would score his second and third goals of the game to pick up a road hat trick to make it 5-0.
The game would get contentious late in the stanza as McLellan, Davis and call up Caleb Martin were involved in a line brawl.
Campbellford veteran Dennis Fisher was given the gate for wining a helmet at Martin during the fracas.
Neither team would score in the third.
On Thursday in Game 1, Picton seemed to be sailing to a multi goal win before the Rebels scored a last minute goal and made the locals work to preserve their first post season victory of 2023.
McLellan would set up Harrison five minutes in to the game on the power play to push the Pirates in front 1-0.
Picton doubled that lead at the 4:07 mark of the second when Martin sprang Kirby and Zack Brooks on a nice rush which saw the latter slide home his first of the playoffs.
Campbellford’s Brock Kelsh was left alone in front of Spry for a number of whacks at the puck and eventually the Rebels broke through at 9:06.
Picton held off the Rebels until just 25 seconds left when a 6-on-4 advantage paid off with a Kyle Allan goal to make it 3-2. This was just seconds after the Pirates missed a couple of chances to bury an empty netter.
In the other series, the Port Hope Panthers closed out the Frankford Huskies in five games.
Picton travels to Amherstview for Game 1 on Wednesday then returns to Huff Estates Arena to host Game 2 at 7:30.
The rest of the series is as follows: