By Alex Gallacher
A pair of goals by both Christian Stevens and Bryce Richardson was the key ingredient in a heart pounding 5-4 Haliburton County Huskies victory, Saturday against the visiting Lindsay Muskies.
With Halloween around the corner and fresh off a perfect 2-0 record in the showcase, fans showed up in droves to pack the S.G. Nesbitt memorial arena. With some sporting their finest costumes, the team was ready to put on a show for the nearly 400 spectators that came out.
Both teams would get the ball rolling in the first, with even play at both ends of the ice. The first decent chance came from Richardson, blasting a hard shot towards the Muskies netminder. With the save made by Ethan Fraser, the young goalie was fresh off an overtime win against the league leading Trenton Golden Hawks and looking to impress in the Battle of Highway 35. Making two more great saves, the Muskies had a chance of their own a few minutes later but that was shut down by Cicigoi.
William Jones took the first penalty of the game for hooking, which sent up the opening goal. Just as the penalty to Jones was expiring, a Nathan Porter point shot was tipped in by Bryce Richardson to put the Huskies up 1-0 at 11:28. Less than a minute later and the Huskies struck oil again, this time it came off the stick of Christian Stevens.
The Brooklin, Ontario forward took a feed from Patrick Saini and blasted it past Fraser to double the Huskies lead just like that. The Muskies stopped the bleeding at 17:54, where after Sam Solarino would get dinged for a high stick, Boyd Staulbahm found some day light and cut the Huskies lead down to one.
The period ended with the Muskies trailing the Huskies by a goal, however come the second period is was more of the same from Haliburton County. Eleven seconds after the opening puck drop for period two, Stevens would beat Fraser again giving himself another goal on the night. Extending the score to a nice and even two goals, the penalties taken by the Huskies would nearly come back to haunt them.
After both goalies bailed out their defense with two big saves at each end, Oliver Tarr was dinged for interference and sent to think about what he did for two minutes. Only a few second after, Thomas Johnston would find the back of the net cutting the lead back down to one.
With more physical play in bound, both Tarr and Gunnar VanDamme would receive back to back boarding calls for their respective teams. With three minutes left, OJHL leading goal scorer Tarr was back at in again. Redirecting a shot from Stevens, Tarr netted his 14th of the year.
In between the periods, the team held a costume contest for the kids who came out in costume. In honour of the spookiest holiday of the year, the winner was a young lad in a delightfully scary Wolfman outfit.
The Huskies then took back the ice to close out the third chapter of the rivalry in style. The Lindsay Muskies however, said not so fast. Lindsay’s Danick Caron struck first just about halfway through, burying a screened shot on Cicigoi. The Muskies would pepper Cicigoi with shots, but the Thunder Bay, Ontario goalie stood tall.
The game winning goal would come off the stick of Richardson, as he buried a feed from Jack Staniland to put the Huskies back ahead 5-3. The Muskies knew they were in trouble, pulling the goal and throwing everything they had at the Huskies. Killian Rowlee netted a deflection past Cicigoi to bring the Muskies back within one, but it was too little too late.
Haliburton County held on for their fourth straight win, second against Lindsay and third in a row on home ice. Christian Stevens was named the match’s first star and received the honorary bomber jacket post game. Mentioning the importance of the Huskies four-game win streak, Stevens is excited at the chance to play in the county.
“We came out hot, so that’s always good in these kind of games.” Stevens said. “A four-game win streak is big for us and it means a lot. If we keep this going I think we will have more to come, I’m excited to be here and it’s going to be great.”
Meanwhile for Richardson, it was all smiles under his mask during the post-game interviews. Potting his first two goals of the season, they couldn’t have come at a better time for the Toronto native.
“It’s been a slow start for me this year,” Richardson said. “Two goals tonight is really good, bounces went my way and a great feed by Jack Staniland on the second one. Everyone put their full effort in tonight and it moves us closer to the top of the division which we love to see.”
The Huskies hit the road to face the division leading Trenton Golden Hawks, Friday Nov. 5 at the Duncan Memorial Arena. Following that pivotal matchup, the Huskies will host the St. Michael’s Buzzers the following day November 6 at the S.G Nesbitt Memorial Arena. The Huskies lost to the Buzzers 3-2 in their last meeting so they will look to get revenge on home ice.