The Haliburton County Huskies weathered a late Wellington Dukes storm Jan. 28, nipping their South/East Conference rivals 3-2 – to keep them three points ahead of the southern squad in the OJHL standings.

The Huskies got off to a flying start in the home ice tilt. They produced the icebreaker at 13:07 of the first when Marco Iozzo buried his third goal of the season, assisted by Lucas Marshall and Nicholas Dowling.

The hometown team maintained their lead until the midway point of the second, when Wellington’s Luke Strickland got one past a stingy Tyler Hodges, with assists from Lucas LaPalm and Ryan Cutler.

But the Dogs were having none of it. Just a little over two minutes later, they converted on a powerplay, with Alex Cunningham firing the puck passed Ethan Morrow for this 14th of the season. Sam Solarino and Iozzo drew the assists.

Then, Hodges came up with his best save of the night, turning away a short-handed breakaway to inspire the local squad and crowd at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena.

After that, it was Leo Serlin’s turn, as he buried a shot at 16:18 from Josh Sordo, for his eighth goal of the season, to send the Dogs into the dressing room with a 3-1 lead.

The Dukes showed plenty of pushback in the third. They were rewarded with their second tally at 4:15 from Corbin Roach, assisted by Ryan Smith and Jaxen Boyer.

It was a fast-paced period as the Dukes pushed for the equalizer. During the waning stages of the game, they pulled the goalie and crashed the net but were unable to break Hodges or his defence, who stood firm to give the Dogs their 31st win of the season.

Head coach Ryan Ramsay said it was a big game for second place in the conference.

“We responded well. We showed up for the most part. A big second period. I thought we played a sound game. We had a game plan and they stuck to it. They really bought in to what we were trying to execute for that game and it worked out for us, so that was good.”

The coach said Hodges played a solid game Saturday, “made his saves when he needed to, made a couple of big saves for us and was really good.”

Goalie Aidan Spooner is still sitting out after receiving a four-game suspension from a Jan. 22 game against the Toronto Junior Canadiens.

Haliburton vs Burlington

The Huskies were back at it Jan. 28, this time hosting Burlington for a 3 p.m. tilt at the Minden arena.

The Dogs went down 6-3.

They led 3-2 going into the third period on goals by Iozzo (Christian Stevens and Boyd Stahlbaum); Patrick Saini (Ty Collins and Josh Currie) and Saini (Stahlbaum, Stevens)

Burlington tied it at three just 2:26 into the third. The visiting team then blitzed the Huskies, scoring three goals in a 39 second span late in the final frame, including an empty-netter.

Ramsay said the scoreline didn’t tell the story of the game, and they played well enough to win.

“It was 3-3 with a minute, 20 seconds left… we played pretty good for the most part.” Having said that, the Huskies only recorded six shots in the first period. “Second period, we dominated and played really well. Third period was not bad for the most part. We outshot them, we outplayed them. They had a two-on-one, which was one of our forward’s fault for not picking up the two-on-one … and then another breakdown 20-30 seconds after that and then an empty net goal. Hodges would like to have one or two of those back.”

Next up for the Huskies: Feb. 3 versus Wellington on the road; Feb. 4 at home against Caledon (4 p.m.) and Feb. 7 at home against Markham (7:30 p.m.)