The Haliburton County Huskies extended their unbeaten run to a franchise-record nine games over the weekend, dismantling the Oakville Blades in a one-sided affair Oct. 21 before handing table-topping OJHL powerhouse Toronto Jr. Canadiens their second loss of the season on Sunday.
The Dogs pounced on a blunt Blades outfit on Friday, recording a 5-1 victory. Traveling to Toronto two days later, the hometown team executed head coach Ryan Ramsay’s plan to perfection, stifling the Canadiens in a 3-0 road win.
“It was literally an ‘everyone’ effort this weekend. We played our game to a tee… we were good on Friday against Oakville, but the game against Toronto was just another level. It was a real playoff atmosphere style of game. Everyone in the lineup was hustling, blocking shots. I think we put the rest of the league on notice and showed what we’re made of,” Ramsay said.
Keen to keep their undefeated streak alive, the Huskies made a fast start against the Blades – the last placed team in the North/ West Conference. Captain Christian Stevens opened the scoring 13 minutes in, assisted by Will Gourgouvelis and Ty Collins. Patrick Saini, the team’s leading scorer, got in on the action 30 seconds later, ripping one past Blades netminder Claudio Ardellini to give the Dogs a two-goal advantage. Collins added a third late on in the opening frame after nice work by Lucas Stevenson and Myles Perry.
Perry got in on the scoring action himself 85 seconds into the second period, assisted by Chase Strychaluk – acquired by the Huskies in a trade with the North York Rangers Oct. 20
Matthew Wang potted a consolation goal for the Blades midway through the second. While the Huskies continued to create good openings, Ardellini made several key stops to keep the score respectable. Stevenson then added a late empty netter, marking his first goal of the season.
“It was good for Stevenson to get the monkey off his back. A lot of credit on that play to Leo Serlin – he could have got the empty net goal himself but made the selfless play to set up a teammate who needed a bit of a boost,” Ramsay said.
Making a statement
The Huskies came away with the bragging rights Sunday following the first meeting between two of the OJHL’s top ranked sides
It was a nervy opening, with both teams playing patient hockey as they worked themselves into the game. Then, the pair of Perry and Strychaluk took centre stage. The two combined 14 minutes into the first to set up Stevenson for his second goal in as many games, with Perry tickling the twine himself early in the third, assisted by Strychaluk. The duo turned provider again later in the period, this time setting up Collins for a powerplay marker with just seven minutes left on the clock.
The Canadiens loaded up to try and get themselves back into the game, but goaltender Aidan Spooner stood tall, coming away with a 19-save shutout.
While Ramsay has been impressed by his young side’s play during the opening month of the season, he felt they took a huge step forward with a win against a game Canadiens squad.
“You play to your full potential when you have confidence, and that’s what we saw on Sunday. It shows the depth we have. Our first line, which usually does most of our scoring, was pretty quiet, but we still got the job done,” Ramsay said.
The Huskies are back in action again Oct. 28 when they travel to Pickering to take on the Panthers, the reigning OJHL champions. The team will be back on home ice Oct. 29 when they welcome the Canadiens to S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m.