Picton takes 3-0 lead over Campbellford in PJHL playdowns

Picton's Landon McLellan tries to drive around Campbellford's Dennis FIsher in Game 2 Saturday. McLellan fired a hat trick to pace Picton to a 5-0 win. (Gazette Staff)

The Picton Pirates have that clinching feeling after getting out to a 3-0 series lead over the Campbellford Rebels in the Tod Division Quarterfinals of the 2023 Provincial Junior Hockey League Schmalz Cup playoffs.

After surviving a scare in Game 1 on Thursday where Picton escaped with a 3-2 win, the stingy Pirates defence and timely net minding allowed the locals to win a pair of decisive games over the weekend. 

In Game 2, the Pirates went on to blank the host Rebels 5-0 thanks to a 26 save performance by Ethan Beattie.

County product Gerrit Kempers fired a hat trick and added another for good measure in Picton’s 5-1 Game Three win Sunday night. (Gazette Staff)

The following evening in Picton, Brady Spry came within 3:15 of posting his first post season shutout as the Pirates went on to win 5-1.

In Game 3, the Pirates were powered by some Prince Edward County-born firepower as starry rookie Gerrit Kempers fired home four of Picton’s five goals in order.

In the first, the Ameliasburgh native batted a loose puck past Rebels starter Brayden Friedrich about six minutes into the game.

Ahead 1-0 after one, Kempers was at it again in the second. Consecon’s Nick Kirby would set up the fellow County Kings alum at 13:31 to make it 2-0. Then, Kempers would bury a nice Jack Dow feed inside the final minute of the second to clinch the natural hat trick.

Early in the third while killing a penalty, Kempers would show a nose for the net on a partial breakaway, putting a nice move to get clear of a Campbellford checker and then sliding the puck over the Rebels goal line foe his fourth tally of the game and fifth of the post season.

“There aren’t enough words to explain Gerrit’s development this season,” Pirates General Manager Jason Parks said. “He isn’t slowing down in the post season and its an incredible run that he’s on.”

Up 4-0, Picton would add a power play goal at 13:13 as Rheydan McCoy fired home his first of the post season. 

With time winding down, Campbellford captain Aiden Terverton would pick the corner on Spry to break up the shut out bid at the 16:45 mark of the third.

Picton’s defence and netminding was stellar in Game 2 as Beattie came up big for the Pirates time and again.

The Pirates got off to a good start early in the frame when McCoy and Nate Woods combined to set up Kirby for his first of the playoffs at 2:17.

Woods would get his second helper of the frame when he made a nifty behind the back pass to Landon McLellan with just 19 seconds left in the first.

Up 2-0 after one, Kempers would get the jump on the Rebels in the second, converting a Cole Stevenson pass just 15 seconds in.

Picton Pirates netminder Brady Spry was presented his PJHL Player of the Month award by Eastern COnfrence Manager Chris Clarke prior to Sunday’s game. (Gazette Staff)

Picton captain Landon McLellan would score his second and third goals of the game to pick up a road hat trick to make it 5-0.

The game would get contentious late in the stanza as McLellan, Troy Davis and call up Caleb Martin were involved in a line brawl.

Campbellford veteran Dennis Fisher was given the gate for wining a helmet at Martin during the fracas.

Neither team would score in the third.

On Thursday in Game 1, Picton seemed to be sailing to a multi goal win before the Rebels scored a last minute goal and made the locals work to preserve their first post season victory of 2023.

McLellan would set up Ian Harrison five minutes in to the game on the power play to push the Pirates in front 1-0.

Picton doubled that lead at the 4:07 mark of the second when Martin sprang Kirby and Zack Brooks on a nice rush which saw the latter slide home his first of the playoffs.

Campbellford’s Brock Kelsh was left alone in front of Spry for a number of whacks at the puck and eventually the Rebels broke through at 9:06.

Picton held off the Rebels until just 25 seconds left when a 6-on-4 advantage paid off with a Kyle Allan goal to make it 3-2. This was just seconds after the Pirates missed a couple of chances to bury an empty netter. 

Picton would hang on to the win.

The Pirates look to close out the first round in Campbellford on Tuesday. If Game 5 of the series in necessary, it will be played on Thursday at Huff Estates Arena.