As the youngest player in the Haliburton County Huskies locker room, Leo Serlin has worked doubly hard this season to prove he belongs in the OJHL.
The 17-year-old has been a mainstay on the wing appearing in 49 games for the blue and white, posting 10 goals and 13 assists. His high-energy game has been a good match for a team renowned for its speed, skill, and work ethic.
“I’ve just been trying to earn the trust of my coaches and my teammates. I think I’ve done well,” Serlin told The Highlander. “I feel like my game has gone up so many levels this year.”
Born and raised in Toronto, Serlin started playing Timbits hockey when he was six. An athletic kid, he also excelled in baseball and soccer, but decided early on that hockey was going to be his primary focus, calling it his “one true love.” He played AAA with the Vaughan Kings and Toronto Marlboros, taking on leadership roles with both teams.
After serving as an affiliate player with the Huskies last season – making his OJHL debut in the team’s final regular season game, a 3-2 road loss to the Wellington Dukes – Serlin was determined to crack the roster this year. He had a good showing at the team’s rookie camp in the summer and was invited to attend main team practices, where he made a big impression.
Serlin said he was excited and nervous after learning he’d made the roster, but his new teammates went above and beyond to make him feel welcome.
“We’ve got a really great group of older guys, and they took me under their wing – especially our captain Chris Stevens. He made me feel at home, like I was just one of the guys,” Serlin said.
He got off to the perfect start, scoring in his home debut – a 5-2 win over the Cobourg Cougars.
He admits it was an adjustment moving to a rural community after living his whole life in the city, but Serlin said he’s grown to love Haliburton County.
“It’s a quiet, calm place. It’s the perfect place for a hockey player to be. There’s limited distractions and we can put our entire focus on hockey,” said Serlin, who is billeting in Haliburton. “This has been the best experience for me. I feel like I’ve gained 20 or so brothers playing on this team. We get so close and develop such a bond.”
With playoffs kicking off this week, Serlin said he’s excited to test himself in the post-season. He believes the Huskies have a good chance of making it out of their first-round series with the Toronto Patriots and going on a run.
He hopes it will be the first of many for him in blue and white. Serlin said he plans to return to Haliburton County next season, with a long-term goal of securing a Division 1 scholarship to play NCAA hockey.
“I’m just going to keep pushing and going to the next level… it definitely helps seeing guys like (former Husky) Oliver Tarr paving the way to play NCAA, it makes you realize that it is possible,” Serlin said.
Leo Serlin has enjoyed a successful debut season in Haliburton County, registering 23 points in 49 games.