If they were being honest, there was likely no better scenario for the Picton Pirates to open the 2020 portion of their 2019-20 Provincial Junior Hockey League and the locals laid out the welcome mat for the Campbellford Rebels and the Georgina Ice this weekend.
With exactly two wins in 61 games between them, there was a better than good chance Picton would extend their winning streak to ten games as long as they showed up ready to shake off the rink rust and put in the work required.
And that scenario is precisely what transpired for the streaking Pirates who had a ‘December-to-remember’, going a perfect 7-0-0 to shoot up the Tod Division standings and continued that trend this weekend
After quelling the Rebels 7-3 on Thursday and breaking the Ice 8-2 on Saturday, Picton moved their mark to 17-12-2.
With 36 points, there was a moment on Saturday night after their win against Georgina when the Pirates found themselves in second place in the Division.
On Monday, after the dust had settled on a weekend’s worth of action, the Pirates are in fourth place with 36 points, one point up on the Port Hope Panthers and one back of the third place Gananoque Islanders with all teams having completed 31 games
Amherstview is currently four points up on Picton for second in the Division but Picton has a game in hand on the Jets.
A pretty nice way to ring in the new year considering the Pirates were five games below .500 and eight points out of a playoff spot at the end of November.
“Ecstatic” was how Pirates Coach Ty Green said he would have described his state of mind had someone told him about the run his team was about to embark on when December started.
“This team has a never-say-quit attitude and they bring it to the rink every night,” Green said. “These players believe in one another and when you approach games with that ideal, great things happen.”
Green said it was great to pick up the four points over the weekend and shake off the rust of a two week layoff.
“The legs were a little slow but the compete level was very high and that’s the main thing. If we are going to keep up this pace, we need to bring that battle every shift of every game regardless of who we are playing,” Green said.
The Pirates started Saturday night with a slight hiccup but after the first period was over, Picton was well on its way to its 17th win of the campaign.
Benji Orgil caught Picton napping and beat Pirates starter Kyle Renaud 33 seconds into the contest.
But then Picton started to roll almost immediately.
Nick Kyte set up Nate Boomhower at the 0:52 second mark to tie the game and then pushed Picton ahead to stay with an unassisted effort at 3:53.
Brian Bygrave would score at 8:48 and then set up County native Kurtis Wood at 15:31 to take a 4-1 Pirates lead to the dressing room.
In the second, Picton continued to light the lamp as starry sniper Khaden Henry bagged his 26th goal of the season. The Belleville native sits second in the Tod Division in the goal department.
Later in the period, captain Will Harrison would score a power play marker to make it 6-1 Picton.
In the third, Blake Gowan scored the opening goal of the frame to get the Ice back to within four but Landon McLellan would score at the end of the frame and then Kyte bagged his second solo tally of the contest to finalize the score at 8-2.
Renaud picked up his 6th win of the season.
While Picton would put an incredible 53 shots on the Georgina goal on Saturday, the club actually eclipsed that mark two nights prior, sending 60 shots at Campbellford starter Micheal Brassor.
The Pirates would count three times in the back half of the first period as Dawson Lindsay, Nate Brant and Brayden Adams all found the range in a four minute span.
Ben Krauja had a goal for Campbellford with just over a minute left.
The second verse was almost the same as the first for Picton as they won the period by an identical 3-1 score to move their lead to 6-2 through 40 minutes.
McLellan counted as did Griffen Conger and blue liner Aiden MacDonnell for Picton while Benny Scarr beat Picton’s Eric Tessier clean.
In the third, the teams traded goals.
Picton native Nolan Dawson scored in the late going to make it 7-2 but Rebel Jacob Yohn scored a power play goal late to move the margin to 7-3 in favour of the hosts.
With the Orr and Tod Division doormats out of the way and riding a ten game winning streak, Picton goes from one extreme to the other on Thursday as they host the PJHL’s best overall club and defending Schmalz Cup champion Napanee Raiders.
The stark contrast is not lost on Green in terms of his most recent opposition versus what lays ahead-especially after Picton defeated the Raiders at home in overtime on their most frequent trip to the Strathcona Paper Centre.
“January is going to be a tough schedule for us but we need to stay sharp and stay focused,” Green said. “We know Napanee will bring their best and we just need to be ready to answer the bell and keep doing the things we’ve done to be successful.”
On Sunday, Picton head to Amherstview for a four point game with the Jets.