By Alex Gallacher
Special to the Times
The Haliburton County Huskies entered 2022 riding a six-game winning streak. With the last two matches against Caledon and Mississauga being postponed due to COVID-19, the Huskies were eager to get back on the ice Jan. 2, at the S.G Nesbitt Memorial Arena.
The story heading into the game, was that starting Huskies netminder Christian Cicigoi would be out of the lineup and in his place backup Christian Linton got the nod. In his first game since the Ontario Junior Hockey League Governors’ Showcase, Linton wanted to make a good impression on the reduced capacity crowd.
In the first period, Huskies forward Oliver Tarr was pelting Canadiens netminder Shelby Warren with shot after shot. An incredibly physical game, both teams traded blows with players such as Joe Boice, Nick Athanasaskos and Ryan Hall stepping up to make big hits for the blue and white.
The Canadiens responded with a few good scoring chances of their own, the best of the period being one near-goal by Eric Vitale, who rang a shot off the crossbar. The teams headed back to the locker room tied 0-0.
Tarr got the game’s first goal at 10:58 in the second period. After a bad turnover by the Canadiens gave Tarr free open space in front of the net, he made no mistake burying it for the 1-0 lead and his 24th goal of the season.
With the Huskies up by one, a fire lit under the bellies of the Canadiens and fans at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena were in for a very controversial finish.
After Huskies defenceman Alex Pasternak took an interference call, the Canadiens got on the board. The Canadiens’ Matthew Wilde found some open space in the slot, going post and in on Linton to tie the game up at one apiece. Two minutes later and Tyler Fukafusa would feed Christian Catalano for a one-timer to give the Canadiens the lead.
As the minutes ticked down, the Huskies pulled their goalie mounting an all-out assault on Warren. As the players hacked away at the puck, Tarr knocked the puck in as the whistle blew to stop the play. The fans and Huskies players started to celebrate, but the goal was waved off by the officials as they claimed the net had been dislodged.
To the ire of both the players and head coach Ryan Ramsay, Tarr had argued the net wasn’t off when the puck had gone in while others argued the net wasn’t even off to begin with. Regardless, the pleas of the Huskies went in vain as the Canadiens held on for the 2-1 win. As the final whistle blew a major scrap broke out involving, most notably, Huskies players Nathan Porter and Peyton Schaly among others.
While the result didn’t play out in favour of the Huskies, Linton was still very excited to be back playing in front of a home crowd. Stopping 27 of 29 shots, Linton put on a great performance in goal.
“It felt good to be back,” Linton said. “I think we played well defensively for the most part, we got quite a bit of chances but we just gotta focus on hitting the net. Just wish we could’ve walked away with the ‘W’ tonight.”
The Huskies were to be back Jan. 7 to take on the Mississauga Chargers for the first time in team history, but that game has been cancelled as the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena was closed to all gatherings as per provincial law.