The Haliburton County Huskies put on a show for fans inside S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena Feb. 4, dismantling the Caledon Admirals 10-4 in a ruthless display of attacking dominance.
Fresh off a disappointing 6-1 loss to the Wellington Dukes Feb. 3, where the Huskies collapsed in the final frame, giving up five unanswered goals, the team came out with something to prove on home ice Saturday. Flanked by members of the U13 LL Cheryl Smith RE/MAX Highland Storm for warmup and pre-game ceremonies, the players were like caged animals, just waiting to sink their teeth into a Caledon team that have won just six games this season.
Declan Bowmaster got things rolling with a smart finish 1:44 in after being found in the slot by Alex Cunningham. Captain Christian Stevens added a second at 4:25, finishing off his own rebound attempt after a Will Gourgouvelis shot from the point had been saved. Luca Rea potted a powerplay marker at 8:26, assisted by Cunningham and Marco Iozzo.
The Admirals responded with a goal of their own at 8:51, Daniil Kononov netting on the road team’s first foray forward.
Patrick Saini then struck the base of the post with a wrister after skating in from the boards, a sign that the hometown team were far from done. Ty Collins registered a quickfire double, scoring at 12:47 and 14:13, before Nicholas Dowling, Leo Serlin and Sam Solarino added further markers late in the period, giving the Huskies an unassailable 8-1 lead after the first buzzer.
Head coach and general manager Ryan Ramsay said it was a great response after poor showings in back-to-back losses against the Dukes and Burlington Cougars.
“We always tend to come out swinging after a bad result, and we did exactly that in the first period. I had been driving home the message that there’s no room for complacency in this league, and the boys really took that to heart,” he said.
Ramsay reserved special praise for 16-yearold debutant Graeme Armstrong, a Highlands local, who grabbed a secondary assist on Collins’ first goal. He’s an AP with the team, regularly playing for the Central Ontario Wolves U16 AAA outfit and was drafted into the lineup due to the absence of regulars Lucas Stevenson and Boyd Stahlbaum.
There was also a first OJHL start for youngster Cameron Yorke, who got the second half of the Huskies’ back-to-back, with regular starter Aidan Spooner finishing up a four-game suspension. He recorded 20 saves in the win.
Josh Currie tallied a ninth for the Huskies 51 seconds into the second frame, but the goals dried up after that – though not for the want of trying. The home team peppered Nicholas Von Kaufmann – iced in relief of regular starter Antonino Rizzo during the opening period – but the six-foot-six-inch goaltender stood up to the task, making several impressive stops as the Huskies kept pushing.
The game got a little chippy as the minutes trickled away, boiling over in the final moments of the second. After some verbal back and forth, Lucas Marshall dropped the gloves with the Admirals’ Andrew Tsotsos, getting the better of the exchange much to the delight of the home fans.
Serlin added a solitary marker midway through the third, assisted by Josh Sordo and Currie, to give the Huskies their second double-digit score of the season.
“You’re never looking to embarrass a team, but at the same time this is junior hockey. You still have to play hard,” Ramsay said.
“We don’t want any bad tendencies or habits to creep in, so my message is always to play our game for the whole 60 minutes and see where that takes us.”
It was another high-scoring affair Feb. 8 when the Huskies entertained the Markham Royals in Minden. The home team ran out comfortable 8-3 winners.
Cunningham had a six-point night, scoring a hat-trick and putting up three assists, with blueliner Gourgouvelis contributing two goals and three helpers. Bowmaster, Currie, and Rea also got on the scoresheet.
Aidan Spooner marked his return from a four-game suspension, making 22 saves in the win.
The Huskies have a home double-header this coming weekend, hosting the Stouffville Spirit at 4 p.m. Feb. 11, and the Collingwood Blues at 3 p.m. Feb. 12.