The Haliburton County Huskies open their best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Toronto Patriots on home ice March 9.
Under the OJHL playoff format, the third place team in the South/East Conference, the Huskies, play the sixth ranked team (the Patriots).
Puck drop is 7 p.m. at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena and head coach, Ryan Ramsay, said he is feeling excited and confident after a couple of weeks that featured sickness, suspensions and injury.
He was looking forward to a week of practice following a March 4 win over the North York Rangers and having a complete lineup ready to go.
The Huskies ended their 54-game season with 36 wins, 14 losses, one tie, and three overtime losses for 76 points.
The Patriots tallied 29 wins, 19 losses, two ties, and four overtime losses for 64 points.
“They’re a good team. They work really well together. They have a game plan and stick to it,” Ramsay said of the Patriots.
He added they, “have some really good talent,” though perhaps not the high-end calibre of some of his squad.
While he didn’t want to give too much away as to how his team is preparing to take on the Patriots, Ramsay emphasized, “just playing our system. When we play Huskies hockey, we’re really good. When we venture off and do our own thing, it doesn’t go well. If we stick to the game plan, we’ll be fine.” The Huskies ended the regular season on a winning note Saturday.
Despite a depleted roster, the coach said some players stepped up and goalie Aiden Spooner was solid.
“I thought Saturday was just a great ending to the best season we have had here.” It’s the Huskies second season in the County.
The night started with a thank you to the billets.
“Without the billets, we wouldn’t have a team here,” Ramsay said.
The Huskies went on to score five goals in the second period to blow open what had been a tight game.
Luca Rea notched a short-handed tally, assisted by Patrick Saini, at 3:24 of the second. That opened the floodgates. Will Gourgouvelis potted one at 10:36, from Lucas Stevenson and Kaiden Thatcher. Then, Stevenson scored at 15:16 from Nicholas Dowling and Sam Solarino. Marco Iozzo joined the goal parade at 17:11 with helpers from Saini and Zack Terry. And, Alex Cunningham made it a 5-0 game with assists to Gourgouvelis and Josh Currie.
North York answered with two, one late in the second, and the first tally in the third, to bridge the gap at 5-2.
But Cunningham hit the half-dozen with a goal at 4:31 from Rea and Currie. The Rangers got one just past the mid-way mark of the third but the Huskies held on for a 6-3 win.
With puck drop tonight, Ramsay was asked how he’ll manage the team’s expectations as they have been talking playoffs all season long. He thinks because of that, they’ll be better prepared than last year.
He said they have one of the deepest rosters in the league, something he thinks was lacking last year, when the Cobourg Cougars ousted them with stronger third and fourth lines. He added it is about players keeping their emotions in check, “not too high, not too low.”
Thursday March 9 – 7 p.m. Minden
Saturday, March 11 – 7:30 p.m. Toronto
Sunday, March 12 – 2:30 p.m. Minden
Tuesday, March 14 – 7:45 p.m. Toronto
Thursday, March 16 – 7 p.m. Minden
Saturday, March 18 – 7:30 p.m. Toronto
Sunday, March 19 – 2:30 p.m. Minden