Islanders teetering on brink of elimination

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The Port Hope Panthers, without even strapping on their skates, inched closer to clinching the fourth and final playoff spot in the Tod Division of the Provincial Junior Hockey League on Sunday.

Thanks to the first-place Napanee Raiders, the Gananoque Islanders are teetering on the brink of elimination from post-season contention after the Raiders downed them 4-2 in Gananoque.

The loss kept the Isles two points behind the Panthers with a single game left (although the Panthers still have two remaining), against the Orr Division’s Georgina Ice this coming Friday night.

The Islanders need to win that game and hope Port Hope loses its two remaining games (against the Amherstview Jets this Saturday and an as-yet-unscheduled makeup game for an earlier postponement against Napanee). Then the tie-breaking formula would kick in, and three levels deep it favours Gananoque.

The first two tie-breakers — overall wins (14) and head-to-head record (3-2-0-1) — would be deadlocked, but Gananoque would win the third as the Isles have a much better goals-for vs. goals-against differential on the season (.478 to .432).

The Raiders, meanwhile, moved closer to claiming first place overall in the 63-team league. With a points percentage of .893, they are slightly ahead of the No. 2 Glanbrook Rangers of the Bloomfield Division, who finished at .881.

“Certainly being first overall in the PJHL in winning percentage would be a nice accomplishment, but it’s only that,” Raiders general manager Adam Bramburger said.

“We’re not looking too far ahead as the playoffs approach. Obviously, we want to finish the season healthy. Beyond that, we just want to execute each play, each period and each game.”

In Gananoque, the Islanders scored the first two goals and didn’t allow Napanee to hit the scoreboard until 8:47 of the second period, when Ryan Casselman scored. Evan Foley followed at 17:05 to tie the game and then newcomer Liam Mroueh, playing in his first game with the Raiders, scored what proved to be the game-winning goal 2:37 into the third. Casselman added an empty-net marker at 19:01.

Scoring for the Islanders were Kyle Casford, in the middle part of the first period, and Nick Maillet, six minutes into the second period.

In Amherstview, Picton scored three times in the opening 7:40 of the game and then also added the next three goals by the 7:32 mark of the second period en route to a 6-2 victory over the home-ice Jets.

Tristan Cowan, Owen Dever, Devin Morrison and Jack Dow scored in the first period for the Pirates, while Noah Brant netted both of the team’s second-period goals.

Jag Masters, later in the second period, and Jaydon Wood, early in the third, scored for the Jet. Cody Smith assisted on both goals to keep pace with Casselman atop the division’s scoring race. Both have 73 points.

On Saturday, a furious late-game comeback attempt fell short for Port Hope as it dropped a 5-4 decision to the Clarington Eagles in Port Hope.

The Panthers, who trailed Clarington 5-2 inside the final six minutes of the third period of the interlocking game, scored twice to make it a one-goal game but couldn’t get the equalizer.

Port Hope led 2-1 after one period, but Clarington stormed back with three unanswered second-period goals and another 6:17 into the third to go up 5-2. Tavish Davidson, at 14:34 of the third, and Adam Meijer, 1:24 later, then lifted the Panthers within a single goal.

Brady Rawn and Thomas Wunderlich scored Port Hope’s first-period goals.

Scoring for Clarington were Jordan Neuman, with a pair, Brett Poulin, Matthew Cawker and Spencer Mazakian.

In Gananoque, Wood scored four goals and collected five points for the visiting Jets, who never trailed in the game and claimed a 7-4 win, with Isaac Pascoal adding two and Hunter Chapman scoring the other goal. Smith accumulated three assists in the game.

Replying for the Islanders were Mackenzie White, Roman Cannell, Ross Campbell and Drew Marquette.

The Jets opened a two-goal lead in the first 18-plus minutes of the first period before the Islanders scored later in the opening frame and then 32 seconds into the second to tie the game.

Amherstview, however, went on a four-goal run between 9:45 of the second and 12:32 of the third to pretty well put the game away, going up 6-2. Gan netted the next two goals but Wood completed the scoring with his fourth goal, at 17:02 of the third.

In another Saturday night game, the Campbellford Rebels lost 9-2 to the home-ice North Kawartha Knights.

Cole Arnold and Matther Wilbee each collected five points (3G, 2A) for the Knights while Chandler Carberry netted a pair of goals and Mike Fisher added one.

Andrew Moran scored both Campbellford goals.

On Friday night, Napanee scored four unanswered first-period goals en route to a 5-1 win over Port Hope. After a scoreless second period, the Raiders upped their lead to 5-0 before Port Hope got on the scoreboard in the final two minutes.

Cullen Hinds scored twice for the Raiders, with Bailey Matthews, Devon King and Matthew Panetta netting the others. Replying for the Panthers, who were outshot 42-17, was Jacob McPhee, on a power play at 18:33 of the third.

On Thursday in Picton, the home team’s Griffen Conger scored 6:20 into the second period to break a scoreless duel between goaltenders Kyle Renaud of the Pirates and Jeremy Piazzi of the Islanders.

Casford tied the score 2:51 into the third, but Picton’s Morrison scored what proved to be the game-winning goal about a dozen minutes later. Conger added an empty-netter with 1:12 remaining.

This week in the PJHL

Thursday, Feb. 14: Napanee at Picton, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 15: Georgina at Gananoque, 8:15 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 16: Amherstview at Port Hope, 7:30 p.m.

(End of regular season)