Toothless Huskies down in first round

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The Haliburton County Huskies find themselves in a hole, down two games to one, in their OJHL first round playoff series against the Cobourg Cougars.

Boasting home ice advantage, the blue and white enjoyed a perfect start to the postseason March 9, downing the Cougars 3-2 in overtime in front of 625 fans at S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in the series’ opening match, before dropping game two 6-1 in Cobourg March 11, and game three 4-2 on Tuesday evening in Minden.

The atmosphere was electric inside a sold-out arena on Saturday afternoon as the Huskies kickstarted their post-season with a win. Patrick Saini got the home side off to the perfect start 9:59 into the opening frame, burying one past Cougars netminder Ryan Piros to send the home fans into a frenzy. The captain’s tally was assisted by fellow 20-year-old forward, Charlie Fink.

Alex Bradshaw doubled the lead at 16:57, assisted by Saini and Ethan Wright, as the Huskies took control. They looked comfortable through to the end of the second, with goaltender Brett Fullerton in peak form, turning away 23 shots across the two periods.

The Cougars came roaring back in the third, Michael De Sousa finding an answer for Fullerton at 1:54, assisted by Riley Pitt and Matt Mueller to make it a one-goal game. They peppered the Huskies goal throughout the period, outshooting the home side 16-3, but struggled to find another way past Fullerton.

With the clock ticking down, defenceman Tyson Rismond took a tripping penalty at 18:04, with Saini handed a second tripping minor at 19:24. The Cougars’ Jack Falkner made them pay, beating the buzzer to tie the game at 19:59 on a six-on-three powerplay, with Piros on the bench.

The Huskies weren’t to be denied though, Saini helping himself to the game-winner 5:45 into the extra frame, assisted by Fink and Noah Lodoen.

Cougars 6 Huskies 1

It was a much different story on the road in Cobourg on Monday evening, with the Cougars dominating much of the game.

Trevor Hoskin, the OJHL’s regular season points leader, notched his first of the series 12:03 into the first, assisted by Falkner and Pitt. Jordan Fuller extended the lead three minutes later on assists from Andy Reist and Parker Petruniak. Jonathan Kapageridis made it a three-goal game 2:18 into the second, assisted by Michael De Sousa and Lucas Stanojevic.

The Huskies showed some fight – Lucas Marshall making it a game at 6:43, assisted by Saini and Lodoen. After the Cougars’ Jesse English was sent to the box for boarding at 14:35, the Huskies powerplay went to work, but couldn’t find a way past Piros. Stanojevic stuck a dagger in Haliburton hearts at 15:58, scoring shorthanded to give Cobourg a 4-1 lead at the end of the second.

While the Huskies outshot their opponents in the third, it was to no avail – Hoskin added a fifth for the Cougars two minutes into the final frame, chasing Fullerton from the Huskies net, with all-star rookie Logan Kennedy brought in. He made three saves on four shots – giving up the game’s final goal to Logan Kelly on the powerplay at the 12-minute mark.

The Huskies ran up multiple penalties as the game drew to a close – Lucas Vacca earning a two minute minor for roughing and game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct, Milic two-minutes for cross checking, Lucas Stevenson two-minutes for slashing, Aidan Yarde two-minutes for roughing and a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Fink ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Cougars 4 Huskies 2

The Huskies were chasing their tail for much of Tuesday’s match-up in Minden. While the home side started well, they found themselves a goal behind after just five minutes, with Matt Mueller firing past Fullerton after being teed up by Kapageridis and Jack Lowry.

Fuller extended Cobourg’s lead 3:38 into the second, assisted by Hoskin. Saini made it a one-goal game at 16:01, scoring on the powerplay from Milic and Ty Petrou after Owen McKinnon’s two-minute slashing minor.

It was a tense opening to the third, with the Huskies digging in to kill off a two-minute Rismond boarding penalty. They had a powerplay opportunity of their own a few minutes in, after Kelly was sent to the box for tripping, but couldn’t find a way past the impressive Piros.

Andy Reist scored his first of the series at 8:01 on the powerplay after Antonio Cerqua was punished for tripping. Mueller made sure of the result at 13:26, assisted by Hoskin and Fuller, who had a three-point night. Saini added a late consolation for the Huskies at 19:07, giving him his sixth point of the series.

The Huskies are back in action tonight on the road in Cobourg, with Game 5 back in Haliburton March 16. Game 6, if needed, is in Cobourg March 17, with Game 7 in Haliburton March 19.