Haliburton County Huskies forward Oliver Tarr has been labelled “the best player in the league” by head coach and general manager Ryan Ramsay after back-to-back hat-tricks against the Cobourg Cougars in OJHL action this past week.
The Huskies put in their best performance of the season on home ice Oct. 16, putting the Cougars to the sword 5-0 in front of a packed crowd at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena. Tarr was the star, scoring his team’s first, second and fourth goals and assisting the fifth. Davis Bone and Lucas Stevenson also found the scoresheet, while Patrick Saini put up four assists. Ramsay reserved special praise for goaltender Christian Cicigoi, recently acquired from the Ontario Hockey League’s North Bay Battalion, for a 39-save shutout.
“We played a sound game on Saturday. I think it was our best 60 minutes as a team. We didn’t really have any letdowns or breakdowns, and the boys put in a huge effort,” Ramsay said. “With Cicigoi, he’s a good goalie who brings some leadership to our back end. Bringing him in was a big trade for us, and he’s settled in nicely so far. The Oct. 18 return match-up in Cobourg was a barnburner, a frenetic back-and-forth game resulting in a 6-5 loss for the Huskies.
The team started poorly, quickly finding themselves down 2-0. Forward Sam Solarino was handed a game misconduct for fighting at 6:59. That inspired the Huskies, who scored two goals – at 10:34 and 12:39 of the opening period – to tie the game.
The first was a clever finish from Tarr, off a Stevenson pass. The second was a shorthanded goal by Saini – who finished a twoon-one after a give-and-go with Nicholas Athanasakos. The Cougars’ Steve Whittle then fired his second of the game at 14:23, giving the home side the lead at the end of the first period. Isaac Pascoal extended the Cougars’ lead mid-way through the second.
Tarr brought the Huskies back in the game with an absolute beauty on the breakaway at 2:32 of the third. There was controversy at the mid-way point of the period, when a Huskies apparent goal was waived off. Ramsay said he was told the puck had struck both posts, but didn’t cross the line. Nine seconds later, the Cougars extended their lead to 5-3. The Huskies replied with spirit and character.
Tarr grabbed his hat-trick at 14:47, before Athanasakos notched his first goal as a Huskie, tying the game 37 seconds later. But the team’s excitement was short-lived as the Cougars’ Kallaway Mercer pounced on a defensive error to fire in the game winner at 15:50. Ramsay said, “Obviously there’s disappointment that we didn’t get the two points, but the compete level was there. We pretty much only had two and a half lines, so I think the boys did pretty well.”
Tarr is now at the top of the OJHL’s scoring leader charts, leading all players with nine goals in six games. “Oliver’s a great player. He’s a young man that grew late, and is still really coming into his body. But I can’t say enough about the kid on and off the ice – he is, in my opinion, the best player in the league,” Ramsay said.
Tarr deflected the credit to his linemates. “In these past couple of games, the puck just seemed to find its way on my stick, but I can’t not credit my boys for finding me when I’m in good positions,” Tarr said. An assistant captain, Tarr has enjoyed a leadership role with the Huskies.
He said he wants the team to make the playoffs, and secure himself a scholarship for Division 1 hockey in the U.S. The Huskies are 3-3 on the season, in last place in the East Division. The Huskies have added forwards Christian Stevens from the Battalion and Graham Dickerson from the Kitchener Rangers. Both are expected to play Oct. 23 vs the Wellington Dukes. Puck drop in Minden at 4:30 p.m