The Napanee Raiders are on the verge of clinching first place in the Tod Division of the Provincial Junior C Hockey league.
With 11 games left in the regular season, the Raiders have a 16-point lead on the second-place Picton Pirates. The two teams will meet on Friday night at the Strathcona Paper Centre with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.
Head coach Mike Hartwick’s club keeps rolling right along. Napanee has won 27 of their last 28 games.
“Since Day 1, our goal is to get to the Schmalz Cup,” said Raiders forward Reid Humphrey.
“We’re coming along nicely and look forward to the playoffs,” added the 20-year-old Queen’s student from Kitchener.
“Our chemistry is unbelievable. Every day, we work to get better. We have tremendous talent on this team, and it shows on the ice. Our offence is potent with the likes of Ryan Casselman, Austin Labelle, Evan Foley, Justynn Steven, Cameron Harris. We’ve got a strong defence and shutdown goaltending in Nicholas Nabuurs and Bailey Maracle.”
Humphrey himself has added 31 points in just 18 games.
The Raiders may be coasting to their second straight regular season division title , but the black and silver are taking nothing for granted. They remember last year’s playoff loss to the Amherstview Jets.
“It was a tough pill to swallow, but the boys have learned a valuable lesson,” said Humphrey.
“We’re staying humble. We know if we don’t show up to play, we can be beat on any given night. We’re taking it one game at a time, and as I said, we’ll try to get better with each and every game we play. The playoffs are just around the corner so we better be ready. I know our opponents will.”
This is the 30th anniversary of the Napanee Raiders. The team was formed in 1988 and won the All-Ontario Junior C title in 1993, beating the Hanover Barons in a six-game final.
Needless to say, the Raiders are hoping their 25-year drought will come to an end.
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