Huskies forward Bryce Richardson gets goosebumps every time he steps out onto the ice at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena.

The 18-year-old has taken to life as a Highlander, and while there’s much he loves about living in Haliburton County, hearing the roar of the hometown crowd on game day ranks among his favourite things.

“We have the best fans in the league,” Richardson said. “It’s great for us walking out of the dressing room. Those first steps, you’ve got kids lining up giving us high fives, and then stepping into the arena and seeing all the fans … We’ve played all over this season, and you just don’t see that. The community has really gotten behind us. When we go out there, we’re playing for the whole County.”

Richardson has tallied nine goals and 10 assists in 39 games with the Dogs this season, his first as a full-time OJHL player. While he enjoyed a nine-game audition as an affiliate with the old Whitby Fury in 2019/20, Richardson feels he’s taken his game to a whole other level this year.

The Toronto native likened himself to former Maple Leafs’ favourite Zach Hyman.

“I’m a guy who likes to get in the corners and make plays happen for my teammates. I think I’m more of a pass-first kind of guy, I try to keep my head up when I’m out there and keep the puck moving as much as possible,” he said.

Richardson started the year playing on the Huskies’ top line alongside Lucas Stevenson and Oliver Tarr. As the season developed, he’s shifted around the lineup. While also seeing third-line minutes skating alongside Cameron Kosurko and Sam Solarino, Richardson has seen the bulk of his ice time come on the second line, playing alongside close friend Patrick Saini.

“I’ve known Patrick for a long time. We played AAA together at major bantam with the North York Rangers, where we were coached by Ryan Ramsay, so we have good chemistry playing together in this system,” Richardson said.

The biggest eye-opener has come off the ice. Having never lived away from home, Richardson said it’s been an interesting few months venturing out on his own. He’s billeting with Dan Roberts on Lake Kashagawigamog alongside teammate Kolby Poulin.

Loving his new life in the Highlands, Richardson is hoping for a strong finish to the season as the Huskies vie for a playoff berth and extended post-season run.

“Everyone in that locker room is playing for each other right now. We’re a brotherhood,” Richardson said. “We’ve missed a lot of hockey the past couple of years, and being a new team in a new community, what better way to kick off a new era than to win a championship. That’s something we’re really working for right now, for ourselves and for the community.”