Port Hope Panthers Take 2-0 Series Lead with Win Over Napanee

In Hockey

By Jeff Gard/Today’s Northumberland

The Port Hope Panthers spotted themselves a three-goal lead for the second straight game and went on to defeat the visiting Napanee Raiders 4-2 in Game 2 of the Provincial Junior Hockey League Tod Division semifinal series Wednesday night at the Jack Burger Sports Complex.
It was the sixth straight win for the club going back to the previous series against the Frankford Huskies. The Panthers now have a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven showdown heading into Game 3 Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee before the series shifts back to Port Hope for Game 4 on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
“The boys are playing very well, they’re sticking to the game plan very well, we’re getting great goaltending from Clarky – he’s stepped in there and is doing a great job,” said Panthers head coach John Foley. “The boys are buying into what has to happen to win playoff hockey. Frankford, even though we won in five, it was a tight series. They played very well and they got us game-ready for this. With our skillset and our grind, I think the boys are playing great.”
Wednesday night, after a scoreless first period, Chris Brydges opened the scoring for the Panthers just under three minutes into the middle frame.
Two minutes later, Sidney Wakely bolstered the lead to two and shortly after Oz Paziuk made it 3-0 on a shot that trickled past Raiders goaltender Bailey Maracle.
With the teams lined up for the faceoff after that goal, Port Hope’s Connor MacGregor and Napanee’s Cameron Krupa dropped the gloves and were ejected from the contest as a result of the fight.
Krupa was Napanee’s top goal scorer and point producer during the regular season with 29 goals and 52 points in 37 games.
Perhaps the fight provided a spark, though, as former Panther Michael Patrick answered back for the Raiders just 42 seconds after Paziuk’s marker.
Patrick’s teammate Blake Aylesworth cut the deficit to one when he scored shorthanded nine seconds into a Port Hope power play.
Napanee, while already on a man-advantage opportunity of its own late in the second, was awarded a penalty shot when a Panthers player covered the puck in the crease.
Marshall McFarland, who had the lone goal for the Raiders in the series opener Tuesday night, took the penalty shot but was turned aside by Panthers goaltender Joseph Clark.
In the third, the Raiders – still trailing by a goal – pulled Maracle with two minutes remaining in favour of an extra attacker. Port Hope’s Cole Kimble blocked a shot at the point, collected the puck and had a clear path to the empty net to help secure the victory.
Clark made 32 saves to earn the win in net for Port Hope with his strong performance.
Napanee had a first-round bye after finishing atop the Tod Division standings during the regular season. They lost just six times in 41 games entering the series against the Panthers.
“Napanee’s a good hockey team and it’s far from over. We’ve been in this situation years before against Ayr (in the Schmalz Cup final) – we were up two and then we lost four straight – so we’re going day-by-day with Napanee right now,” said Foley, who was an assistant coach with the Panthers during their three straight runs to the provincial championship series from 2015 to 2017.
“We’re preparing game-by-game, we’re just getting healthy. Our message in Friday’s (game) is stay the course, stick with the process and hopefully just keep playing the way we’re playing. To sweep them is probably not happening, but we just want to make sure that we play the right way and just keep building off the positives.”
Jeff Gard
Author: Jeff Gard

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