The Haliburton County Huskies 2023-24 season came to an end March 16 as the Cobourg Cougars beat the locals four games to one in their first round East Conference series.

The blue and white struggled out of the gate this past Saturday, as they gave up a goal just 35 seconds in. Duncan Schneider fired in his first of the playoffs from Jonathan Kapageridis and Jack Falkner to put the Huskies on their heels.

Early in the second, the blue and white were unable to contain the hot Andy Reist. He scored from the equally threatening Trevor Hoskin and Parker Petruniak to put the visitors up 2-0.

The onslaught continued when Kaiden Harmon bulged the twine behind Brett Fullerton, at 6:48, from Michael De Sousa and Jack Lowry for a commanding 3-0 Cobourg lead. Coach Ryan Ramsay yanked Fullerton and put Logan Kennedy in the cage.

A normally raucous S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena was subdued until Charlie Fink, with his first of the playoffs, made it a 3-1 game. He was assisted by Matt Milic and the indefatigable Patrick Saini.

But any hope of a comeback all but fizzled when De Sousa scored for the Cougars, this time at 11:04 of the second.

It was a scoreless third period as the clock ran out on the Huskies season, sending more than 600 fans home disappointed.

Huskies 2 Cobourg 5

On March 14, the Cougars put the Huskies in a do-or-die situation when they dominated the blue and white in a 5-2 decision on their home ice.

They again started quickly. Hoskin scored unassisted at 3:10. Then, Jordan Fuller took his turn with a goal at 6:15 from Hoskin. Reist gave the home team a 3-0 lead at 10:58 from Hoskin and Fuller.

The Cougars padded their lead to 4-0 in the second with a Logan Kelly marker at 2:33, from Kapageridis and Harmon.

The Huskies mounted a mini-comeback. Antonio Cerqua found the back of the net at 17:35 of the second from Adam Smeeton. And, Saini notched his fifth of the playoffs, from Ty Petrou, at 18:36. The Huskies were down 4-2 with a chance.

However, Kelly scored his second of the game at 7:57 of the third period to hand his team the win.

Ramsay said other than game one, when the Huskies won in overtime “I don’t think we played well. Their go-to guys played pretty well. I think some of our go-to guys just couldn’t find a way to get on the scoresheet.” Team captain Saini was responsible for much of the offence in the series. Ramsay added Fullerton had an excellent game one but couldn’t find his stride the rest of the series.

“It’s a little bit disheartening because I think it was a team that was beatable, but not the way we played. They played harder.” He noted the Huskies largely outshot the Cougars but ran into good opposition goaltending.

Reflecting on the season, the coach said he saw a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. However, looking to next season, he said there is a good core coming back, and as GM, he will be looking to fill roster spots.