By Katrina Boguski
The hometown crowd came out in force to cheer on the Haliburton County Huskies during their home opener at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena on Saturday night. Season ticket holders, billets, parents, and volunteers filled the stands to COVID capacity.
The fans arrived early, lining up before 3:45 p.m. for the 4:30 p.m. game time. Proof of vaccination was required for entry and fans seemed happy to comply with all regulations including masks.
The Huskies played host to the Lindsay Muskies who shutout the home team 4 – 0. The night before, when the Huskies were in Lindsay, the Huskies beat the Muskies 3 – 2.
Despite the disappointing home ice score, fans were supportive of the team and some noted that it is still early in the season. Fans are keen to see their team up their performance going forward.
The Huskies will play 54 regular season games, which will include 26 more home games plus playoffs. Most of their home games will be played on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden.
The team’s owner, Paul Wilson, was on hand to watch his team and was encouraged by the amount of support the franchise already has received from the advance sales of season tickets and backing from sponsors.
Sponsors had their names boldly displayed on the Huskies’ jerseys and others also had their company names appear elsewhere. Those sponsors with their names on the newly minted jerseys were visible throughout the game, and especially so when the team lined up on home ice before the game.
Haliburton’s Ella Gooley sang out a beautiful rendition of O Canada; fans were impressed to hear such a powerful voice coming from such a young singer. After the crescendo in the final verse, she yelled, “Go Huskies” and the confident young singer set the tone as the players from both teams stood facing the flag.
The Huskies’ line up included local lads Joe Boice and Ryan Hall. The ceremonial puck drop included Minden Hills Township Mayor Brent Devolin, who dropped the puck between the two team’s captains with Ontario Junior Hockey League director of operations Chris Vanstone, Huskies owner Paul Wilson, president of business and hockey operations/league governor Brad Townsend looking on.
Also on hand throughout the game were head coach and GM Ryan Ramsay, and assistant GM and director of player relations Brian Mackenzie. Mackenzie said that it was great to see the fans turnout in force and commended the Lindsay team for their hard work during the game. He hopes to see better game result when the Huskies return to home ice. He also noted that Saturday’s game was the second game the Huskies played within 18 hours.
Also working hard throughout the evening to ensure a smooth opening night was Jess Jackson, billet coordinator and games day operations manager. Jackson could be seen coordinating volunteers, staff and special guests throughout the game.
The staff was keen to give special thanks to billet families who are hosting the Huskies players in their homes for the season. Providing a welcoming home environment where players can recoup between the games is an important part of the equation that must be balanced to ensure the successful operation of the OJHL team.
Volunteers are also key and many enthusiastic ones were at the arena filling various roles.
There was a solid selection of Huskies apparel available at the game, and judging from the significant number of people wearing it, the Huskies team logo will be a popular fashion statement this fall among local hockey fans.
A statement posted on the Huskies website from Jim Mason, OJHL communications said two area Foodland stores have been offering Huskies merchandise for sale, selling 400 hats and 300 T-shirts alone. The apparel sold at the opening home game presumably boosted those numbers significantly higher.
A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are still available, and you can still sign up to be a volunteer. For more information on becoming a volunteer or a billet, contact Jess Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head Coach Ryan Ramsay told the Times “On Oct. 26 we play our home game in Cobourg as this is our showcase tournament not in Minden.” A full schedule of the Huskies home and away games, as well as team stats and more detailed information on sponsorship opportunities can be found at: www.huskieshockey.ca.