Lambert to celebrate birthday with return of Raiders hockey

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

Reid Lambert has great plans to celebrate his 18th birthday on Friday.

In addition to the numerous greetings he’s sure to receive from family and friends, Lambert will also return to the ice with the Napanee Raiders as they take on the visiting Campbellford Rebels at the Strathcona Paper Centre. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

“I’m pretty pumped for the return to play for sure and it being my birthday makes it 10-times more special,” Lambert said. “I’m pumped to get back on the ice with the boys and finish the season strong.”

Napanee (14-4-0-2), which won 10 straight games to start the season, currently sits second in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Tod Division.

Lambert played a number of years in minor hockey for the Napanee Stars and always enjoyed cheering on his hometown Raiders.

“Every Tuesday 7:30 after my practices, I would always watch,” he remarked. “When I was playing in Napanee I was always number 17 and there was a guy 17 on the team, Cullen Hinds, and I really looked up to him.”

Playing for the Stars meant a lot to Lambert.

“What I liked was everybody sort of knew who you were and it was good going out and knowing everyone was there to watch,” he said. “You get to represent your town in a good way.”

Aspiring to play for the Raiders one day, Lambert took his development to the next levels. He played for the Belleville Jr. Bulls AA teams for his U14 and U15 seasons and with Greater Kingston at the AAA level for U16 in 2019-20.

“It’s always been a little difficult for me to go to a new place and then stepping up to triple-A was another big thing, but it really helped going to two different teams one step at a time, which got me to the junior level,” Lambert said. “I’m never really a social person, but meeting new players and everything really helped me go from team to team.”

Playing two years of high school at Napanee District Secondary School also aided in his development as did joining the rugby team in Grade 9.

“I’m always trying to get everybody up on the bench, just everything positive and more of a physical player kind of guy,” he said. “This year I have more adrenaline and I’ve put a couple points up, which is different for me.”

Lambert has registered more than a couple points. He has eight goals and four assists in 19 games played during his rookie campaign. He was selected to represent the Raiders along with teammates Rheydan McCoy and Blake Ellis at the PJHL Prospects Day for 16 and 17 year old players in Orillia in December.

McCoy was named MVP as the the PJHL East Prospects edged the North Prospects 2-1. Lambert enjoyed the experience and sharing it with Napanee teammates, but there was more to it than that.

“It felt good to be chosen to go there,” he said. “The major thing that I liked about it was, five or six years ago I played spring hockey for the Quinte Spitfires and half the team were kids from everywhere. I met a lot of friends there and then playing at this junior prospects game, there was probably 10 players from that Quinte Spitfires team that I met up with again. That was the thing I was most pumped about. I didn’t expect it at all and seeing those faces was really something special.”

Back in Napanee, the Raiders have 10 games remaining in what is now a 30-game regular season, down from 35. They are four points back of the division-leading Amherstview Jets (17-4-0-0) with a game in hand.

“We’re doing the best we can and going to try to keep it up,” Lambert