After three years in Haliburton County, outgoing Huskies captain Patrick Saini said he’ll always consider the Highlands his home away from home.

His junior career came to an end March 16 after the Huskies were eliminated from the OJHL playoffs. Emotions ran high in the days that followed as Saini came to terms with the disappointing 4-1 series loss to rival Cobourg Cougars.

Saini said he couldn’t have asked for a better place to ply his trade.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I moved to Haliburton County at 18 – I had never lived away from home, but the fans and wonderful people made it like a second home,” Saini said. “I’ve met so many amazing people – teammates, billets, fans. I’ll always look back on my time there as some of the best years of my life.”

Saini started as a 16-year-old during the 2019/20 season, when the team was in Whitby. He was one of a handful of players who committed to moving north ahead of the 2021/22 season, featuring primarily in a middle six role, with 46 points in 35 games during the regular season, and another seven in the post-season.

He was handed an ‘A’ ahead of the 2022/23 season, forming a key part of the Huskies leadership. Saini exploded for 76 points in 57 games, finishing third in team scoring, as the blue and white enjoyed a run to the second round of the OJHL playoffs,

Being named captain for his final year, Saini broke several team records, including most goals, assists and points in a single season – finishing with 44 goals and 50 assists for 94 points. He had a hand in eight of the Huskies nine goals against the Cougars in the post-season. Saini wraps up his junior career as the franchise’s all-time points leader, with 256 in 218 games.

“It’s cool to put up those types of numbers, but it was never my goal to break records. I was just trying to help the team win and do everything I could on the ice,” he said.

As for memories, Saini said he’d always cherish the Huskies first win at rival Wellington Dukes’ home arena earlier this season, when Brett Fullerton sealed the game with a goalie goal.

Saini said he’ll also miss the connection with local fans. “everyone who supported me and my teammates. Seeing the fans in public, the kids giving us high fives on our way to the ice, how excited they were when we did school visits. Seeing the fans go crazy when we did our salutes and celebrations – I’m going to miss it all,” Saini said.

While he said he’s gained about 50 brothers, he singled out Lucas Marshall, Jack Staniland and Lucas Stevenson.

“Us four created a special bond playing together for so many years. We leaned on each other a lot – we’ll be friends forever,” Saini said.

Huskies coach Ryan Ramsay said Saini is “the most dedicated player I’ve ever seen,” and tipped him to reach the very top of the sport.

“I don’t think there’s a ceiling when you have an engine and a head like Patrick Saini. It’s almost like the world’s your oyster. People have bet against him because of his size (5”8’, 180 pounds) but he’s proven them wrong time and time again. If someone is going to doubt him at that next level, I guarantee after a year or two, he’ll turn heads,” Ramsay said.

“Even if I coach another 25 years in this league, I don’t think I’ll find another guy like Patty… his loyalty, commitment and drive are all next level,” he added.

Saini is taking time to process the end of his Jr. A journey before deciding next steps. Ramsay, and team owner Paul Wilson, believe he’s capable of playing Division 1 NCAA.

“He’s the hardest working, most prepared and most dedicated player we have ever had… I wish him the best and would love to see him get a D1 scholarship,” Wilson said.