With just two weeks left in the OJHL regular season, Jack Staniland is giving everything he’s got to help the Huskies head into playoffs with some momentum.
The 19-year-old defenceman has been a key contributor down the stretch as the Dogs have rallied off seven straight wins, including dominant displays this past weekend against the Mississauga Chargers and Caledon Admirals.
Learning from captain Nathan Porter and recent acquisition Simon Rose, Staniland has seen his game reach new heights in his debut OJHL season. In 44 appearances with the blue and white, he’s put up three goals and nine assists. Often leaned on to help transition the puck up the ice, Staniland has stood out as one of the league’s top up and coming offensive defencemen.
He showed as much during a game with the Lindsay Muskies in December. With the scores level and the timer ticking down, Staniland picked up the puck at the point, danced past three Lindsay players and fired the puck home with a backhand shot to complete a phenomenal individual effort.
Born and raised in Port Perry, Staniland spent the bulk of his minor hockey career playing in his home community before making the jump to AAA with the Central Ontario Wolves when he was 14. There he met fellow Husky Joe Boice.
After finishing his U18 year with the Wolves, Staniland made a single appearance with the Markham Royals during the 2019/20 OJHL season and signed on to play with the Whitby Fury the next year, only for the pandemic to cancel the season.
When he learned the Fury would be moving north to Haliburton, Boice was his first call as he debated whether or not to follow.
“He told me all about what a great spot Haliburton County is. Then I talked to Ryan [Ramsay, Huskies head coach] and it was the same kind of thing. They were describing this amazing place to me, so I made the decision to come up here,” Staniland said. Billeting with Boice, Staniland has grown accustomed to life in the Highlands, spending his off days out hiking and golfing during the warm weather, and ice fishing in winter.
Now that spring has sprung, Staniland is excited about what that means for the sport he loves: playoffs.
“It’s just a different feel. Things get more physical, everyone is playing extra hard because they know it’s pretty much do or die. Even playing AAA was incredible, I can’t wait to experience that with the boys here in Haliburton,” Staniland said.
“This community has really rallied behind us, and we want to do all we can to give them something to cheer for. I think we’ve got a great shot… especially with the crowd for our home games. They’re always so loud, and that will really help [to spur us on] during playoffs.”