Picton battles back to even series with Port Hope

Eric Tessier. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The Picton Pirates had a more complete outing in Game Two of their three game bubble series against the Port Hope Panthers on Saturday night, setting the stage for a Game Three, winner take all contest at the Jack Burger Sports Complex.

After dropping Game One of the series on Dec. 5, Picton had a better effort from their veterans Saturday night and skated off with a 3-1 win, turning the tables on the host Cats who were able to capitalize on a rash of Pirates penalties in the opener.

“The guys definitely showed up with game legs on Saturday night and it really allowed us to set the tempo,” Pirates Head Coach Tyler Green told the Gazette Monday.

The visitors had to battle back in the contest as the Panthers opened the scoring partway through the first period.

Nate Boomhower. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Bryson Kellaway had a nice feed that found a wide open Nathan Ford and a tap in past Picton starter Eric Tessier made it 1-0 through 20 minutes.

But the Pirates had answers in the middle stanza as their offence got on track.

Noah Brant’s one timer  on the power play sailed past Port Hope netidner Cameron Johnston early in the second to bring the game back to even at 1-1.

“We took advantage of the power plays we got in the second and that’s always nice to see,” Green said.  The veteran players like Brant, Griffin Conger, Landon McLellan and Nate Boomhower stepped up their game something we lacked a bit in Game One.”

Later in the frame it was an Owen Never power play blast that put the Bucs in front at 2-1.

Then, with time winding down in the period, a most welcome sight for Pirates fans as Nate Boomhower scored on the man advantage to provide the Pirates with a measure of insurance.

After watching the young Belleville native get carted off the ice after injuring his surgically repaired shoulder in the playoffs last season and not know what the future might bring, Boomer scoring in his second game of the 2020-21 season was an uplifting moment.

“I think the guys are really happy to see him back at the rink and competing again especially with the way everything happened last year in the playoffs,” Green said. “When he’s healthy and committed, we know he can be a force in this league.”

Picton would outshoot the Panthers 13-5 in the frame as the ice was titled due to the steady stream of Panthers to the sin bin.

In the third, Picton perhaps relied a little too much on the netminding of Tessier but the Kingston native was locked in and stopped all eight shots sent his way.

“Tessier was really sharp between the pipes when we needed him to be,” Green added.  

In terms of play, the Pirates had a better time in Game 2 of adapting to the new COVID-19 style of play which eliminates body checking.

“The players seem to adjust a little more to the new style of play that we are now facing with this COVID Season,” Green said. “It really changes the speed of the game when you can’t take the body on a player. Sticks are slowly becoming more active and we are focussing on that aspect of defending and staying on the right side of the puck when it’s in our end.”

Picton travels to Port Hope on Saturday to play Game 3 of the bubble series.

Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.

While there looks to be no ice installed at Huff Estates arena this season, the Pirates are hopeful of setting up another bubble series in the new year against another Tod Division rival.

The Napanee Raiders and Amherstview Jets are putting on the finishing touches on a 14-game set of modified scrimmages that are double headers of two half hockey games. 

Through a dozen games, the Jets lead that series 5-3-4.