By Fred Groves
It’s been 19 long months since Haliburton County Huskies’ captain Nathan Porter has played in an Ontario Junior Hockey League game.
This past weekend, the 6’2”, 220-pounds veteran defenceman led the Huskies into a pair of pre-season contests against the Aurora Tigers. Friday, on the road in Aurora, they won 6-3 and less than 24 hours later back home at the SG Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden, made it two straight in a 7-4 traunce over the Tigers.
“We are feeling it,” said Porter of the obvious fatigue. “We did have a good week of practice and the Blue and White game.”
With two more exhibition games before the season opener in October, the Huskies seem to have a firm grip already on just who will be on their roster. It’s a mixture of experienced veterans, like Porter who came from the Whitby Fury, along with some youngsters who have not played junior hockey.
“I think we have a good team and once we get the chemistry going we will be fine,” said Porter of meshing team unity both on-and-off the ice.
Saturday’s game in Minden started with the Tigers jumping ahead 1-0 in front of the large Haliburton County crowd but before the first period had expired, the hosts had a commanding 3-1 lead which they increased to 6-1 after 40 minutes. The final period saw the Huskies stumble a bit, giving up three goals which got the attention of coach Paul Ramsey.
“You get a couple of goals ahead and you think the game is over and you get complacent,” said Ramsey after Saturday’s game. “As long as we learn from it, it’s okay,” he added.
Ramsey said the Huskies have signed a full roster already and admitted that one area he had to address in the off-season was goaltending.
“That was one of my concerns and so we brought in two 19-year-olds and either one can be a starter,” he said, referring to Chris Linton and Nick Heinzle.
Last Friday night in Aurora, the visiting Huskies fell behind 3-1 within 10 minutes of the game but battled back to even things up after 20 minutes before going on to a 6-3 win. Oliver Tarr led the winners with a five-point effort including a pair of goals. Also connecting with two was Bryce Richardson with singles from Lucas Stevenson and Lucas Marshall. Porter had a couple of helpers and Huskies’ netminder Heinzle made 22 saves in net.
The Huskies travel Collingwood on Friday night before hosting the Blues back home the following day at 4:30 p.m. to round out their four-game pre-season schedule.