By Alex Gallacher
The Haliburton County Huskies were riding high after picking up a huge road win against the St. Michael’s Buzzers on March 4. They used that momentum to build what currently stands as a four-game win streak, downing North York and Lindsay at home and Trenton on the road.
A beautiful overtime goal by Simon Rose was all the Huskies needed to seal the deal on Tuesday, March 8, and an offensive explosion helped the Huskies steamroll the Lindsay Muskies in the biggest win in franchise history.
On Tuesday, the North York Rangers came to town. Despite the team leading the Eastern conference at one point this season, the Huskies have held the series lead at 2-1. With the league’s most fearsome goalie James Gray getting the start against the Huskies, the team needed their “A” game and sure enough they brought it.
The teams traded multiple scoring chances in the first period, however the Huskies broke ground late in the first period. Huskies offensive star Oliver Tarr set up teammate Lucas Stevenson in front of the net, who beat Gray through the five-hole to give the Huskies the early lead. The second period saw some rough moments, but oddly enough no scoring. These two teams have matched up well this season, with most of the games having been decided by one goal in regulation, or decided in overtime, and Tuesday was no exception.
Just over halfway into the third and the Huskies doubled their lead. Some confusion in front of the net, led to Bryce Richardson knocking the puck in during the confusion exhibited by goaltender Grey. After some protest and anger from the Rangers bench, the game continued. The Rangers weren’t going to go down quietly, and with the goalie pulled, they got to work.
Daniel Petreccia backhanded one past Huskies starting goalie Christian Cicigoi to get the Rangers on the board, and a few seconds later Isa Parekh silenced the Huskies crowd by getting off a hard shot from the top of the hash to tie the game 2-2. Just like that in less than a minute, the game was headed to OT. Keeping in mind that the Huskies had one win in five overtime games and conversely the Rangers were a perfect 4-0, fans at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena were nervous, but confidant in the Huskies.
The first overtime period solved nothing, so onto the second overtime, where Simon Rose sent the partisan fans home happy. Deking around two defenders, Rose chipped it over Gray’s shoulder to set the packed arena into a frenzy to earn two points for the Huskies.
“We won the draw and Tarr brought the one guy back,” said Rose, describing the goal. “The play opened up and I was able to go right through. I knew I was going to try to cut the one defender and when I did he didn’t even turn, so I flat-footed the other guy and I had some speed so I chipped it over the goalie’s shoulder for the win.”
The Huskies carried that momentum into Trenton a few days later, where after being down 3-0 at some point they mounted a comeback. Patrick Saini scored his first career OJHL hat-trick and Cameron Kosurko netted the game winner to complete a stunning comeback win for the Huskies. The Huskies seemed unstoppable, and by Saturday would prove they belonged in the conversation for East division champions.
Less than 24 hours after the monster win against the Golden Hawks, the Huskies wanted to fry some fish one last time this season. In front of a standing room only crowd during the beginning of the March break, the Huskies delivered a win in the most dominating fashion.
Richardson got the party started, slamming in a pass from Stevenson. Then Sam Solarino scored a beautiful goal to double the lead, just a few seconds later. At 8:53, Peyton Schaly broke by two defenders on his way to beating Ethan Fraser on a breakaway. Then Patrick Saini would do the same thing, but this time it was while the Huskies were short-handed at 17:38. After the first period, it was already 4-0 and the bleeding wasn’t going to stop any time soon.
To start the second, Solarino picked up goal number two around three minutes in. Huskies defenceman Isaac Sooklal then buried an Oliver Tarr pass to net his first of the season, but Lindsay’s Duncan Scullion finally got the fish on the board at 9:39. The Muskies’ joy lasted around 30 seconds because after Lindsay’s goalie, Fraser was pulled in favour of Yacine Chemrouk, Tarr made it 7-1 netting his 27th goal of the season.
The Huskies’ Richardson added another goal early in the third period, but the team ran into some penalty trouble. Boyd Stahlbaum was finally able to beat Cicigoi, and for the second time on the powerplay the Muskies would score. However, this time it would be Nate Burelle unassisted. The final score was 8-3, the most amount of goals scored by the Huskies in franchise history.
“I felt I played with more confidence today,” Solarino said. “I was in a slump before and it’s been hard, but it feels good to finally score today. Cameron, Nick [Athanasaskos] and I have been playing really well lately and we’ve been gaining confidence every single game. We are clicking more and more and I think that will only grow, so it’s been really good.”
Six different Huskies players scored that night, with Cicigoi making 33 saves to earn his league leading 23rd win. The Huskies now move to within one point of the Wellington Dukes and three points back of Trenton (as of Sunday, March 14) as the division win put them back in reach of the playoffs after a slump in February.
The Huskies return to the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena on Friday, March 18 for a back-to-back-to-back, against the Mississauga Chargers, Trenton Golden Hawks and Caledon Admirals. With three games in three days, the Huskies will look for a quick six points, as the next away game is March 23 in Mississauga.