One wouldn’t fault members of the Napanee Raiders if they decided to go all-in on a hand of Crazy Eights over the Thanksgiving holiday last weekend.
Despite finishing just two points out of first place last year, the Napanee Raiders didn’t hit eight goals in a game once in the regular season. This year, in just eight games, they’ve scored that many or more five times.
This past weekend, that offence paid dividends in two more wins as the Raiders beat Amherstview 8-4 and the Port Hope 8-6 on consecutive nights to improve their record to 8-0 to start the season.
At home, Friday, the Raiders had another strong start against the Jets with four goals in the first period alone off the sticks of Ben Chubbs, Ben Carter, Reid Lambert, and Ryan Kidd. Ryan Kudo would cut the lead in half with a pair of second period goals before a Adam Nuttall marker gave Napanee some more comfort going into the third. Early in the final period, Cam Krupa broke in alone for a shorthanded goal. Maverick Labrie capitalized on another forced turnover, while Ben White also scored. The Jets’ Caden Kekewich and Caelin Baron added two late to tighten the score.
Saturday’s game saw more momentum swings, leaving the result in question for much longer. The first period saw a see-saw early on with the Panthers’ Sidney Wakeley and the Raiders’ Chubbs scoring just over two minutes apart. About five minutes later, Noah Wastewater put Napanee up on the power play before Carter Clarke replied within a minute.
The ice tilted in Napanee’s favour late in the period as Nick Goosney batted in a loose puck by the goal mouth with 2:22 remaining, Marshall McFarland found the twine 12 seconds later, and Reid Lambert struck 1:04 after that. The Raiders took a 5-2 lead going into the first intermission on the road.
The second period would flip back to Port Hope. It started with Nolan Stevenson stealing the puck at his own blue line to score shorthanded nearly five minutes in. Just under a minute later, Evan Wright would find the net to bring his team within one. Krupa and Stevenson traded markers late as the Raiders held a narrow lead going forward.
In the third, with Bailey Maracle entering the game and making some timely saves, the Raiders played with a bit more urgency. Kidd would score at 9:42 to restore the two-goal lead. Stevenson’s hat trick at 16:38 would again bring the Panthers within one, but that was as close as they’d get. Soren Zamuner struck off the rush less than a minute later to cap the scoring.
Both games this weekend saw eight different Raiders scoring. This season 20 have found the net already and five have already hit double digits in points.
Napanee will get its first look at the Campbellford Rebels this Friday evening in a 7:30 start at the Strathcona Paper Centre. Then, on Sunday, the Raiders head to the W.J. Henderson Arena in Amherstview for their fourth meeting with the Jets.