Haliburton County Huskies head coach Ryan Ramsay said Sunday’s home exhibition against the Renfrew Wolves will be a good chance for some of his young charges to lay down a marker ahead of the new OJHL season.

It’s been a busy summer for Ramsay as he prepares for his third season in the Highlands. With just five players returning from last year’s roster – Patrick Saini, Jack Staniland, Lucas Stevenson, Lucas Marshall and Zack Morissette – recruitment has been the coach’s first order of business

Players reported for training camp Aug. 17, with a mix of vets and young affiliate players put through their paces

“We brought 20 guys in for camp – some coaches like to bring in a lot of players and run big sessions, but I only bring the guys that are signed or who we’ve committed to as affiliate players. That’s made for a really competitive camp – I think we’ve got a great group of guys again,” Ramsay said.

He said players came back in peak condition. “It’s probably the best fitness testing I’ve ever done, so kudos to the players for staying in shape. That could give us an edge as we get ready for the new season,” Ramsay said.

After finishing third in the South/East conference last season and making a run to the second round of playoffs, Ramsay is hoping to go one step further this year. While he acknowledges it may take some of the new additions time to get up to speed with ‘Huskies hockey’, Ramsay is confident he has all the ingredients to make a championship run.

“Fans can expect to see a similar brand of hockey to what they’re used to. We like fast, intense hockey – players that play with a bit of an edge. We have a lot of quality hockey players signed this season,” he said.

The newest addition is 20-year-old power forward Aidan Yarde, acquired from the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Canada Hockey League. The six-foot-threeinch, 220-pound winger will provide a physical presence for the Huskies, Ramsay said. He’s still exploring the trade market ahead of the new season, with three max-age roster spots open

The squad travels to Stouffville to kick off the pre-season Aug. 24 for a tilt with the Spirit. They’ll do so with a new face behind the bench – Matt Comand is replacing Jordan Bailey as associate coach, joining the Huskies after three years with the Collingwood Blues. Owen Flood, the team’s long-time strength and conditioning coach, has also been named an assistant coach for the 2023/24 season.

The team will be at home Aug. 27 against the Renfrew Wolves. Puck drop at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena is 2 p.m. Tickets are $5.

“It’s a chance for our fans to see a new team from a different league. I’m excited to see how we stack up, it’s going to be a learning curve for some of these guys. I just want to see them work and compete,” Ramsay said.