By Alex Gallacher
After the double-overtime period solved nothing, the Haliburton County Huskies and Cobourg Cougars had to settle for a 3-3 tie Friday night in Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) action at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden.
The first evening game of the season might have seen frigid weather outside, but inside fans were treated to a scorcher of a match between two divisional rivals. Celebrating the team’s first Cancer Awareness Night, from the opening drop of the puck the Huskies had complete control.
At 3:04, Oliver Tarr streaked down the right wing towards Cougars goalie Justin Easter and cut across the crease to bury his 20th of the season and put the Huskies up 1-0. The game was rough from the get go, with big hits and lots of penalties.
Sam Solarino got completely run over by Cougars forward Tai York to put the Huskies on the power play, the team didn’t disappoint. Huskies forward Lucas Stevenson netted his eighth of the year, with Isaac Sooklal picking up an assist in his first game back from injury.
While the Huskies dominated the first, the Cougars weren’t going to let that slide in the second. York scored the first of three straight goals for Cobourg at 2:10, with teammates Liam Filip and Isaac Pascoal adding to the tally to leave the Huskies trailing by one into the second intermission.
With the Huskies down by one, the intensity picked up as both teams’ level of intensity increased to get a goal. However, at 6:21 Huskies rookie Lucas Marshall would get his first career OJHL goal to send the game to overtime. Lighting up the arena and giving the fans two extra periods of hockey. After the overtime’s four-on-four format solved nothing, the teams took one final crack at it with the five minute three-on-three format.
After the Cougars managed to kill off an important penalty, they had a chance to end the game with a breakaway. Huskies netminder Christian Cicigoi left the Cougars players, who had already rushed off the bench to celebrate, deflated when he raised the puck with his glove to show he made the save. The game would end in a 3-3 draw with both teams picking up a point.
“I’m excited to finally get the first goal off my back,” said Huskies forward Marshall. “It’s electric to play in this building and it’s so much energy from the fans. I really enjoy being here.”
For Cicigoi, a possible save of the year trophy might be in his future at the end of the season. His game saving stop at the end of double-overtime might go down as one of the most exciting moments of the season so far.
“When I saw the turnover, I said to myself ‘No, we are not gonna lose this game’,” Cicigoi said. “He is a fast skater so once he made the move to the blocker side, I cut my edge and he made the move to my glove side. I stuck my leg out and got the puck but they started to celebrate, so I had to flash the puck to the ref to stop that. “
Despite the tie, coach Ryan Ramsay still had a lot of positives to look at. While the inconsistent powerplay and questionable officiating let a lot to be desired, picking up a point in the division is ever so important as the season progresses.
“I think as a team we played really well in the first ten minutes,” Ramsay said. “We sat back too much in the second period but in the third we played really well. As we get later in the season we can’t let teams come back in but I’m happy we picked up a point in the division. Isaac Sooklal and Peyton Shaley played great in their first games back and we are getting Patrick Saini back next week so I’m looking forward to that.
The Huskies dropped a 2-1 game against Wellington on Sunday, but will be back in the Nesbitt on Dec. 3 for a rematch against the Cougars.