Solid Returns: Pirates move into Tod’s third place with four point weekend

Ian Harrison drives the wing during action against the Campbellford Rebels.Picton capitan Ian Harrison and his Pirates had another winning weekend, taking four of a possible six points and climbing over the .500 mark for the first time this season. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

A weekend after winning three straight games, the Picton Pirates made it another winning weekend, taking four of a possible six points to move into third place in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Tod Division.

The Pirates (7-6-1, 15 points) managed to sandwich victories against visiting Campbellford Thursday and host Amherstview Sunday around a shutout loss in Frankford on Saturday night. With Sunday’s win, the Pirates leapfrogged the Jets into third place and have a game in hand on Amherstview.

Win or lose – and the young Pirates have been doing more winning than losing as of late – Picton has been finding ways to stay competitive and capitalize when the breaks of the game turn their way. The club has also had a penchant for playing strong in front of their netminder and both Ethan Schwarz and Nic McGrayne have not let the locals down in the goaltending department.

On Sunday, Mr. Schwarz was scintillating in the mesh manor, keeping the Amherstview Jets off the score sheet until the 54th minute of the contest.

Resse Kleinstuber looks on during PJHL action in Picton.
Reese Kleinstuber of Wellington had the game-winning goal in Sunday’s game against Amherstview. It was also his first junior tally. (Jason Parks/Picton Gazette)

By then, the Pirates had amassed a 3-0 lead and were well within sight of their 7th win of the season.

Veteran Nick Kirby would pick the corner on Jets starter Marc-Olivier Robert with just over two minutes left in the first to give Picton the lead.

Partway through the second, the Bucs doubled their advantage as Wellington native Reese Kleinsteuber fired a puck past Mr. Robert at 11:40 for what would stand as the eventual game winning goal.

In the third, Gerrit Kempers would tack on an insurance goal while the Pirates were on a powerplay to make it 3-0.

Wyatt Gregory would spoil Mr. Schwarz’s shutout bid with just under four minutes left but the Jets would get no closer.

The Picton Pirates played it close to the vest Saturday night into the final minute of regulation but couldn’t find a way to extend their winning streak to five games.

A week after the locals were able to score late in the game and hand Frankford their first loss at home in 2023-24, Picton couldn’t find the same magic and fell to the host Huskies 3-0.

Joey Coates would beat Pirates starter Mr. McGrayne 3:52 into the game and that was all Frankford netminder Sam Dingle would need, stopping all 17 shots sent his way.

Mr. McGrayne was spectacular in the Picton net, making 39 saves and gave the Pirates hope all the way into the 58th minute. With the Picton netminder lifted for an extra attacker, Ty McCambridge and Jakob Gardner would score emptynetters to make it 3-0.

On Thursday, Picton ran their winning streak to four but it took overtime to accomplish the feat.

In what seemed to be a carryover from their road game in Campbellford Oct. 29, the Pirates and Rebels engaged in defensive battle with the visitors leading for most of the contest.

Rebels Captain Aiden Treverton broke the ice in the first with a wicked wrist shot over the shoulder of Pirates starter Mr. Schwarz at the 5:15 mark as Campbellford was enjoying a power play.

Picton would respond at 10:32 as Mr. Kirby came in off the wing and picked the corner on Campebellford goalie Brayden Friedrich to make it a 1-1 game.

The Rebels would have the only goal in the second but it was a Pirates rookie potting his first junior goal early in the third when Zach Brooks would fire a low shot to the corner at 3:54 of the final stanza and Tyler Hall was there to bang home an equalizer to make it 2-2.

Tyler Hall poses with the souvenir puck from his first junior goal.
Tyler Hall poses with the puck that he scored his first junior goal with. His goal in the third period tied the game at 2. (Jason Parks/Picton Gazette)

Neither team would hit pay dirt over the course of the third thanks to some solid work by both netminders. Mr. Friedrich in particular needed to make a number of acrobatic manoeuvres to negate the 20 Picton volleys sent his direction.

But the Pirates didn’t need much pressure or time to gain the extra point in overtime. Controlling the puck from the face-off, Mr. Kempers and Rheydan McCoy would play pitch and catch until McCoy’s deft back hand pass allowed a streaking Kirby to burst in off the wing. Instead of aiming for the top bunk as he did in the first period, a five hole effort slipped betwixt the legs of the Rebels goalie and set off an overtime winning celebration.

After a busy couple of weekends, the Pirates host Napanee Thursday and remain idle until Nov. 16 when they welcome Amherstview

In other Pirates news, 17-year-old rookie Kaiden Whitney played in and scored a goal at the PJHL Prospects event in Uxbridge on Saturday.