By Alex Gallacher
The Haliburton County Huskies gave their fans a rare treat in the hockey world, two back-to-back home games on back-to-back days. Playing host to their first ever meeting against the Toronto Jr. A Canadiens on Friday, Dec. 17 and facing off against the Cobourg Cougars for the final time on Saturday, Dec. 18 Huskies fans got their money’s worth as both games were a spectacle to behold.
On Friday, the Huskies jumped out to an early lead. Lucas Stevenson buried a feed from Oliver Tarr close to a minute in the game to give the hometown team the early lead. Two minutes later and Peyton Schaly doubled that lead, with Highland Storm alumnus Ryan Hall picking up an assist.
Bryce Richardson closed out a three goal run for the Huskies, before Liam Fedek got the Canadiens on the board at 17:36 of the first.
The second period saw only one goal, coming off the stick of Huskies forward Christian Stevens. However, the penalties were through the roof. In total, 10 separate penalties were awarded with seven and game misconduct going Toronto’s way and three going against the Huskies.
Toronto’s Matthew Wilde was ejected from the game following a hit from behind on a Huskies player, while teammates Ben Loretto and Brad Ditillo combined for five different penalties. The Canadiens added two more goals late in the third, one with the net empty, to cut the lead down to one late. The Huskies would prove too much for Toronto, as Haliburton County went on to win a fifth straight.
The next day saw another rematch against the Cobourg Cougars. The Cougars have yet to beat Haliburton County at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena, with the closest result being a 3-3 tie back in November.
That being said, the Cougars and Huskies went scoreless in the first.
At 6:42 in the second, the deadlock was broken. Cougars player George Krotiris fired home a shot which snuck past Christian Cicigoi, giving the visitors the lead as the teams returned to the locker rooms.
The Huskies have a calling card it seems, in many a game they give up the first goal but storm back for the win. This game was no exception.
With the Cougars goaltender Justin Easter making highlight reel save after highlight reel save, the Huskies threw everything they had at him. A total of 50 shots were pelted at Easter by the Huskies, and eventually his luck ran out.
Schaly kicked off the festivities, streaking down the right side wing to get a clear shot at Easter.
Cutting across the net, Schaly found some daylight and the sellout crowd was brought to their feet.
The physical play was amped up tenfold, as West Guilford’s Joe Boice was slinging his body around delivering three monster hits. As the clock ticked away, both teams were growing ever so hungry for the go-ahead goal.
That goal came with 2:41 left to go in the third, and it would come off the stick of co-OJHL leading goal scorer Oliver Tarr. Getting the puck at centre ice, Tarr was sent streaking down the right wing. Instead of cutting across, Tarr fired a powerful shot top shelf to give the Huskies their first lead of the night.
Patrick Saini added the empty netter to seal the deal for the Huskies, who claimed win number six in a row.
“That was 110 per cent playoff hockey,” coach Ryan Ramsay said. “This group is special, they are resistant and they work hard non-stop. Doesn’t matter what the score is, this team finds ways to win. Our guys have a lot of character in the room and we have a good mix of size, speed and strength, so that’s helped us string wins together and I’m really happy.”
For Schaly, he has started to hit his stride as a member of the Huskies. Since being acquired from Wellington, the Barrie, Ontario forward has eight goals as a member of the team and is on a run of four games in a row with a goal scored.
“We got something really special here,” Schaly said. “The fans give us so much energy and make it so hard for other teams to play in this building. We feel like a championship team and I think if we stick to our systems we will keep winning like this.”
With his 23rd goal of the season, Tarr sits tied atop the league lead. Only his second goal in the past five games, Tarr commented on the brewing rivalry between the teams having played each other nearly eight times before the holiday break.
“It was a hard fought game,” Tarr said. “We have played Cobourg so many times before Christmas and the rivalry is going to be there. We like to run and gun and play physical hockey. We’ve come out on top in the last few contests, so that’s always going to the stir the pot a little bit.”
The Huskies will now officially take a break for Christmas and pending any public health changes, are set to return Dec. 29 in Mississauga to take on the Chargers before returning to the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena on New Year’s Eve for a 2:30 p.m. matinee against the Caledon Admirals.