Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to change the direction of one’s life.

For Haliburton County Huskies winger Marco Iozzo, that bleep came in late November while he was toiling with the Milton Menace. Struggling to find his game, the 20-year-old was frequently moved throughout the lineup as his coaches attempted to tap into the high-level skill that separated him from most of his peers at AAA.

“I was on my way home one night when my coach called and said ‘Marco, I just traded you to the best team in the league’,” Iozzo told The Highlander. “To say I was excited probably doesn’t do it justice. I looked at this as a completely fresh start.”

Born and raised in Bolton, ON, Iozzo was practically born with blades on his feet. He learned to skate just weeks after taking his first steps, on the backyard rink his dad maintained each winter. It was there that he honed his craft, developing a deep love for Canada’s favourite pastime.

As an eight-year-old, he captained his Caledon Hawks AA team to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) championships. While the side came up short, Iozzo impressed at the tournament, opening doors he’s still walking through.

It was Iozzo’s pedigree as a youngster that made him such an attractive proposition to the Huskies.

After registering 13 points in 21 games with the blue and white, playing in a variety of roles, Iozzo is enjoying a breakout in the post-season. He was the standout player in a 4-3 overtime win over the Toronto Patriots in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, scoring a highlight reel goal partway through the third. Picking up the puck at centre ice, he deked out two Patriots defencemen before rifling an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

“I didn’t know what to do with myself, I pretty much blacked out after scoring. It was such an out-of-body experience,” Iozzo said.

“That was such a huge goal for me, because I know I haven’t been playing my best. That helped bring the confidence back.”

No stranger to the County, Iozzo is billeting on Horseshoe Lake – a two-minute walk from a friend’s cottage he’s frequented for the past several summers.

“The familiarity has helped me settle,” he said.

There was a moment though, early days, where Iozzo admits, with a laugh, that he wondered if he’d made the right call moving north to blizzard country.

“It was the first day of December that I drove up, and there was a terrible storm. I almost got stuck on the road and I was like ‘oh my god, what am I getting myself into’,” he said. “But this has been the best thing for me. This community has been so supportive, it’s like a second home… I’ll always treasure this time I’ve spent in Haliburton County.”