Stevenson pots winner as Eastern Conference shades North 2-1

Picton Pirates Cole Stevenson and Nolan Lane had outstanding performances at the 2021 PJHL Prospects event in Orillia on Saturday. (Submitted Photo)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The Picton Pirates have decorated history of making an impact at the annual Provincial Junior Hockey League prospects event and 2021 was no different.

Picton sent right winger Cole Stevenson and goaltender Nolan Lane to the West Orillia Sports Complex Saturday afternoon to take part in a prospects game featuring the best 16 and 17 year-olds playing in the PJHL’s North and East Division.

Representing the Tod Division and their hockey club, Lane and Stevenson were not complacent to just play in the contest.

Picton’s 17-year-old netminder drew the staring assignment for Eastern Conference Head Coach Ben Hagerman of the Napanee Raiders and rewarded his one-day bench boss with a solid outing.

Coming off his first-ever PJHL shutout Thursday against Frankford, Lane was spot on, stopping 14 of 15 volleys from the best young stars from the Pollock (Mitchell, Kincardine, etc) and Carruthers (Alliston, Huntsville, etc) Divisions and leaving the contest at the midway point with a 1-1 tie.

“Nolan was really solid in the first half of the game,” Hagerman told the Gazette. “We went up early and were controlling the play but the North came back with a massive on slaught and Nolan came up with 3-4 quality saves that made sure it stayed tied.”

It was while the game was deadlocked partway through the third period when Picton’s Stevenson took control and put his team over the top.

Receiving  a pass from Georgina Ice goalie Nick Surzyica, Stevenson went the distance and finished off a nice individual effort at 3:27, keeping and shooting on a 2-on-1 rush and picking the top corner behind Huntsville’s Brett Michals

“He’s just really good at both ends of the rink,” Hagerman said. “For a natural centre, he plays the wall really well.” 

With the East ahead and seven minutes left on the clock, the power went out at the arena, forcing the premature end of the contest.

“Overall it was a really good game and good brand of hockey,” Hagerman noted. “Sometimes in a league that gets dominated but 20 year olds, you wonder if the 16 and and 17 year olds are developing and getting the critical attention they. From a Raiders perspective, what I saw from Rehydan McCoy, Brock Ellis and Reid Lambert as well as Nolan and Cole from Picton was that development was happening and Saturday was a rewarding moment for those players and the representatives of the Tod Division.”

McCoy, who scored at the three minute mark of the first, was the games Most Valuable Player.

“Anytime a defence man can score, it’s a bonus and a really nice goal can just bring so much confidence to a player like Rheydan. He was outstanding and he made a lot of great outlet passes and created offensive chances from the back end which is not easy for a player of his age to do.”