The Picton Pirates, who play in the Tod Division of the 63-team Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL), recently completed their 28th season. The “Rats” have won league championships in the 98/99, 2010/11, 2012/13 seasons as well as a provincial Schmalz Cup title in 2013.
The organization is one of the few remaining volunteer-run, not-for-profit, community-based teams the area. The Pirates rely heavily on local sponsorship and community support. The team is always on the lookout for more volunteers, as it takes a great deal of behind-the-scenes effort to operate in a sport that has become increasingly expensive, time-consuming and competitive. The Pirates also do their part for the community by hosting game nights for Child Abuse Prevention, and the players participate in the Santa Claus Parade and the Salvation Army Food Drive.
Despite being Prince Edward County’s second junior team (the OJHLs Wellington Dukes is the other), the Pirates continue to get strong support in the community from fans and sponsors. Junior hockey is alive and well in the Picton area, and offers a great winter-time entertainment choice to match the fun that can be had in a Prince Edward County summer.
The 2017/18 Pirates are coached by Ty Green, who’s in his first year. He took over from Chris Masterson, who spent the previous two seasons behind the bench and moved up to the front office as President and GM. The team has has been improving while in re-build mode after its provincial championship season; the Pirates finished fourth last year with a 20-19-1 record. This season, it was up a notch to third with a 24-14-1 record in the 6-team Tod Division.
Overager Jordon Cannons scored 40 goals in his final season in the league, good for second in the Pirates’ record book for most in a season. He recently captured the Tod Division Overager of the Year award. Prince Edward County’s own Will Harrison won the league’s Sportsmanship award after just 10 penalty minutes in 39 games. The team was the third least-penalized Jr C club in the province this season.
The players are between the ages of 16 and 21 and are mostly from the Quinte area, although each year the Pirates billet a few players from further away. This year’s players hailed from Belleville, Kingston, Prince Edward County, Tweed, Stirling, Trenton and even as far away as Windsor and Red Deer, Alberta.
The team is always looking to add quality players who may move into the area for school or work. Loyalist College, St Lawrence College and Queen’s University students who want to continue to play competitive hockey are always on the Pirates’ radar.
The team also works closely with its County cousins, the Dukes, to provide a hockey home for players who need a bit more development before making the jump to Jr A. Pirate alumni who went on in hockey include Jacob Panetta (Colgate University), Abbot Girduckis (RIT), Matt Kaludis (Davenport University and Danville Dashers), Mitchell Smith (University of Waterloo) and Pirates’ all-time points leader Ryan Sizer (Mckendree University).
The Picton Pirates are proud to be an integral part of the Prince Edward County sports scene and will continue to offer a place for young players to aspire to hockey’s higher levels, or to play out their competitive careers.