The Haliburton County Huskies took another step towards post-season qualification over the Family Day long weekend, earning three points to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The blue and white turned heads with a 6-4 road win Feb. 17 over the Trenton Golden Hawks – the top team in the East conference – before dropping a heartbreaker 3-2 to the Lindsay Muskies in double overtime on home ice Feb. 19. The results see the Huskies tread water in seventh place – five points clear of the Stouffville Spirit and Muskies – with four games to play. The top eight teams from each conference will qualify for playoffs.

Head coach and general manager Ryan Ramsay has called on his team to finish the regular season in style, noting four wins could see the Huskies earn home ice advantage if other results go their way. Just five points separate the hometown team from the second placed Wellington Dukes.

“We just have to stay focused and play our game. Try not to look too far ahead. We have four games to go and just need to leave everything on the table,” Ramsay said. “We’ve got some games we should win, obviously we can’t take those teams lightly. We need to stick to our systems and believe that will be enough.”

Emotions were running high inside S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena on Monday as the Huskies honoured its graduating stars. Captain Patrick Saini, alternates Lucas Stevenson and Jack Staniland, and fellow stalwarts Lucas Marshall, Matt Milic, and Aidan Yarde were greeted at centre ice by their families in a special pre-game ceremony.

Saini has spent five years with the organization, dating back to its days as the Whitby Fury, while Stevenson, Staniland, and Marshall have played all three seasons in the Highlands. Yarde joined the team last fall, making 46 appearances this season, with Milic, a trade deadline acquisition from the Burlington Cougars, dressing in 13 games.

“It’s an emotional time for everyone seeing these guys’ time come to an end… they’ve all been tremendous characters, great personalities. I can’t say enough about the guys like Saini, Stevenson, Marshall and Staniland who have been here with us all three years and wanted to play here. They’ll hold a place with me, [team owner] Paul [Wilson], this organization, and this community forever,” Ramsay said.

Lindsay 3 Huskies 2

It was another slow start on home ice for the blue and white, who found themselves behind after just 79 seconds, Brandon Nye finding space in front of the net and burying one past Huskies netminder Brett Fullerton.

The visitors almost added a second in what was a ferocious start, but Fullerton recovered well, making smart stops to deny Ethan Wright and Dawson Hettiarachchi.

Saini tied the game at 4:47, picking up a loose puck by the blueline, skating between two Muskies defencemen and then lifting one over goaltender Ethan Fraser to send the crowd wild.

The two goalies took turns bailing their team out through the remainder of the first and the entirety of the second, with Fullerton making several highlight reel saves during a lengthy Huskies penalty kill in the middle frame. The home goalie also denied Owen Fitzgerald on a penalty shot, after he was brought down on a Muskies breakaway.

There was an explosion of noise as Ty Petrou broke the deadlock 3:48 into the final period, a powerplay marker assisted by Saini and Lucas Vacca. That held up until the final minute, when Fitzgerald made amends for his earlier miss by sliding the puck past a helpless Fullerton on a six-on-four man advantage.

Saini spurned a golden opportunity to end the game in the second overtime period but couldn’t make a clean connection with the goal gaping. Hettiarachchi made him pay minutes later, pouncing on an Ethan Walker rebound to end the game.

“We played pretty well – had a slow start, their urgency was a little more than ours in the first 20 minutes, but we got better. We missed a couple empty nets, on a different day we probably win in regulation, but coming away with a point is good. It all matters at this stage of the season,” Ramsay said.

Huskies 6 Trenton 4

The Huskies recorded its third win of the season over the Trenton Golden Hawks Saturday, inspired by Saini who had a three-point night.

The Golden Hawks got on the board early in the first, Gianni DiVita beating rookie netminder Logan Kennedy four minutes in. Ian Phillips tied things at 6:26, assisted by Zach Wilson and Vacca, with Yarde getting the go-ahead goal after 13 minutes, assisted by Noah Lodoen and Antonio Cerqua. Thomas Kuipers tied things at two late in the period.

The home side kept pushing early in the second and found the breakthrough just three minutes in, Caleb Van de Ven scoring on the powerplay after Tyson Rismond took a hooking penalty. Ryan Cutler extended the lead at 10:37.

The blue and white weren’t to be denied, though – Saini brought them within one at 12:56, assisted by Alex Bradshaw and Vacca, before Fink tickled the twine at 16:33, assisted by Cerqua and Milic. Saini got the eventual game-winner with six seconds left in the period, a powerplay marker assisted by Stevenson and Petrou.

Bradshaw potted the lone tally in the third, assisted by Vacca and Saini, to add some gloss to the scoreline. The Huskies are back at home Feb. 24 when they host the Caledon Admirals. Puck drop is 4 p.m.