The Haliburton County Huskies put together one of their most complete performances of the year Nov. 4, dominating the visiting St. Michael’s Buzzers in a 5-2 win that coach, Ryan Ramsay, hopes will kickstart his team’s season.
A pair of goals from Nicholas Lamont and further tallies from captain Patrick Saini, Charlie Fink, and a returning Ian Phillips was enough to give the hometown squad a decisive, come-from-behind victory in front of 527 fans at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena.
“We played really well… the boys stuck to the game plan and showed what we can do when we’re on it. A big part of that, I think, is having Ian Phillips back. He’s a first line guy that we’ve been missing for some time,” Ramsay said.
Phillips missed 10 games after spraining his ankle during the OJHL Governor’s Showcase in Buffalo at the beginning of October. The Huskies won only three games during his absence, losing six and earning one tie.
The 20-year-old winger rejoined usual linemates Saini and Ty Petrou on the Huskies top line on Saturday. That trio showed signs of what the Huskies have been missing in recent weeks, pinning the Buzzers deep into their own zone and controlling play. They each had good opportunities turned away by Buzzers netminder Jacob Gorinsky in the early goings.
Lucas Stevenson went close to giving the home side the lead midway through the period, beating a Buzzers defenceman in a race for the puck and stretching his stick to try and poke one past Gorinsky, but the effort was well saved. Minutes later, Lamont, flanked by two Buzzers defencemen, skated into the zone and made a smart reverse pass across the Buzzers goal, but there was nobody there to tap it home.
After a Huskies player whiffed on the puck on the blueline, David Green capitalized on the misplay, skating in and going eye-to-eye with home netminder Brett Fullerton. While the goalie made an impressive stop, the Huskies failed to clear and Green made no mistake, beating him seconds later to give the Buzzers a one-goal lead at 14:41.
Lucas Vacca saw his shot from the point tipped onto the outside of the post during a Huskies powerplay late in the period, while Aidan Yarde could only find Gorinsky’s glove on a wrister in close seconds later. Shots at the end of the first were 22-6 in favour of the Huskies.
The home side continued to squeeze the visitors in the second frame but were hit with another sucker punch 12 minutes in; David Elmy, one of the league’s best sharpshooters, scoring his 18th goal of the season.
That sparked an immediate response – Saini made it a one-goal game at 13:15, assisted by Phillips and Petrou, with Lamont tying things a minute later, finishing off a nice move from Vacca and Fink.
Fink found the go-ahead goal with time ticking down, tickling the twine at 19:12 for his sixth goal in nine games as a Husky, assisted by Lamont and Izayah Luddington.
Lamont made a three-point night late in the third, tallying an empty-netter at 18:50, assisted by Saini and Petrou, with Phillips adding another at 19:54, assisted by Saini, to put some gloss on the final score.
Ramsay hopes this is the start of a Huskies resurgence, with the team currently languishing in 10th place in the East Conference. He’s preparing to welcome back a handful of players in the coming days – Raine Nadeau has missed the last couple of games with a concussion, Ethan Wright and Isaac Lamond have been nursing shoulder injuries, and Noah Lodoen is recovering from a high ankle sprain. Adam Smeeton is also back after finishing a three-game suspension.
“I don’t think our team, the quality we have, justifies their position right now. We have a good team. Now that we’re healthy again, we’re working on getting everyone on the same page and playing the kind of hockey fans are used to seeing,” Ramsay said.
Huskies 2-1 Stouffville
The Huskies recorded their second straight win on home ice Nov. 7, besting the Stouffville Spirit 2-1.
The home side fell behind early in the first, giving up a short-handed goal to Odaro Ewere at 7:53. They got to work in the second frame – Yarde bagging his first goal of the season, assisted by Antonio Cerqua and Smeeton 2:53 in. Petrou secured the result with a smart finish on the powerplay at 7:07, assisted by Saini and Stevenson.
Fullerton was in fine form, shutting the door on a Spirit side that largely dominated the second and third periods. He made 35 saves to earn his second win of the season.
The blue and white will be back in action Saturday when they welcome the Markham Royals to S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena. Puck drop is 4 p.m.