The Red Hawks boys hockey team dropped what could be their penultimate game of the season 5-2 Feb. 5 as they grappled with the prospect of their playoffs getting cancelled.
The Haliburton Highlands Secondary school team could not overcome the Holy Cross Hurricanes, who came out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back. The loss game after two cancelled games for the Red Hawks, due to Trillium Lakelands District School Board ending school-day extracurriculars over concern for teacher supply during labour unrest. They were able to play their home game because it was scheduled at 4 p.m.
Coach Jason Morissette said losing out on the previous two games hurt the teams’ ability to compete.
“That hasn’t helped our momentum. We were on a pretty good roll there. We have still been practicing, but because we’re not getting those games in, that doesn’t get us ready for this game,” Morissette said The Red Hawks mustered a comeback, with Braedon Robinson and Reese Casey scoring in the first and second period, respectively, to tie the game 2-2.
But Holy Cross stormed back quickly, scoring two goals less than a minute apart to go to the second intermission up 4-2. Holy Cross would seal the game midway through the third period, going up 5-2 with 7:36 left to go. The Red Hawks would receive three late powerplays but could not muster any more offence.
“Our powerplay was not in-sync,” Morissette said. “They’re frustrated … Leaders want to lead, and they want to make a difference, so sometimes they try to do too much themselves.”
After the loss, the Red Hawks find themselves with a 4-5-1 record, good for seventh in the 13-team league. Morissette said they would qualify for playoffs, but they will not be able to play a road game unless circumstances with the school board or labour action change. They would need a top-3 finish to secure a home playoff round, which is no longer possible, with just one game remaining.
Morissette said breaking the news to the team about the chance of playoff cancellation was difficult.
“It’s difficult, the look on their faces,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You have to stay optimistic and positive. That’s all you can do.”
He added the team still relishes the chance to play the strong 7-1 St. Peter’s Saints in Haliburton for their last game of the season, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m.
In an interview before their game against Holy Cross, defenceman Isaac Little said the team would take everything out of its final two regular-season games as it could.
“I’m pretty proud of what the team accomplished this year,” he said. “We all saw the team improve a lot from the start of the season.”