The Haliburton County Huskies dropped a 2-1 decision to the Toronto Jr. A Canadiens Jan. 2, two days before the OJHL announced it’s suspending all operations until Jan. 26.
Commissioner Marty Savoy said Jan. 4 that all games will be postponed for the next three weeks in light of Ontario’s return to lockdown. He said the OJHL has developed a plan that will allow the league to complete a full regular season and playoff schedule this year.
Huskies head coach and general manager Ryan Ramsay isn’t happy about the suspension. Some “elite level” amateur sports leagues such as the OHL and Ontario Junior Lacrosse League have been given the green light to continue; Ramsay said he sees no reason why the same rules shouldn’t apply to the OJHL.
“I have 18 out of 22 players that have been drafted to the OHL, and three or four of them that have played in the league. Then we have other high-end players like Oliver Tarr, Patrick Saini and Isaac Sooklal who were offered contracts, but have decided to go [the NCAA] route. I’d say that’s pretty elite level competition,” Ramsay said.
The Huskies had a scheduled game against the Caledon Admirals called off over the holidays after the GTA team experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.
Sunday’s loss to the Canadiens was the Huskies’ first matchup in almost two weeks. Now, Ramsay’s players will be forced to take another break.
“It’s frustrating. I just feel for the players. They listen to the government and get their vaccine, their boosters and everything else and they still get screwed in the end,” Ramsay said. “There’s such a short window for junior hockey. These guys have already missed so much time. They’re getting the short end of the stick here, for sure.”
Controversial call ends Huskies’ run
It hasn’t been a good week for the team, which found their defeat to the Canadiens a tough pill to swallow. Playing in front of a reduced crowd at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena, the Huskies gave a good account of themselves, dominating much of the game.
Even without star goaltender Christian Cicigoi, top forward Christian Stevens and defencemen Sooklal and Will Gourgouvelis, missing through illness and injury, the Huskies controlled the play through the first two periods, generating several good scoring chances. It wasn’t a surprise when Tarr finally gave the blue and white a lead 9:02 into the second period, capitalizing on a bad turnover from the Canadiens.
The lead held up until midway through the third period, when Matthew Wilde scored on the powerplay. He sent a gorgeous shot up over Huskies’ netminder Christian Linton’s glove, with the puck hammering the post on its way into the net.
Christian Catalano added a quickfire second two minutes later, firing past a helpless Linton after a two-on-none breakaway.
“I think we started to run out of gas a little bit in the third period. A lot of our players had only really skated once in almost two weeks, so some mistakes started to creep in,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay called a time out. It seemed to work when, with 21 seconds left on the clock, the Huskies appeared to tie the game.
A scramble in front of the Canadiens’ goal ended with Tarr jamming the puck past a prone Shelby Warren. Referee Dylan Rodgers waved off the goal, believing the Canadiens’ net to have come loose before the puck crossed the line. Ramsay was livid.
“When he (the ref) went to put the net on again it was already in place. He didn’t have to push it back on, because it never came off. It’s a [bad] call,” Ramsay said. “That would have tied the game and then maybe we would have gotten at least a point, if not two out of it. Again, very frustrating.”
The Huskies don’t have a game until Jan. 26, when they’re slated to face the Mississagua Chargers on the road.
Their next home game is scheduled for Jan. 28, against the North York Rangers.