Haringey Huskies 10, Basingstoke Buffalo 0

National Ice Hockey League – South 2

12th November 2022

By Tom Pink

There’s a lot to get through this week so I’m going to get straight into it, but a little bit of housekeeping is needed.

Firstly, there’s absolutely no room for abuse of opposition players from our fanbase. None whatsoever. Let our lads do the talking on the ice. I thought events were dealt with admirably by management and Palace staff on Saturday night, so well done all. A zero-tolerance approach is the only way. We don’t want any of that nonsense anywhere near our club.

Secondly, I didn’t realise I would be so prophetic when I said that Luke Clark would be playing NIHL1 hockey sooner rather than later. Romford Raiders 2 have announced that Luke has joined them on a 2-way deal for the rest of this season. This means that Luke will be available for Romford when he isn’t playing for us. Massive congratulations to Luke, and it was only a matter of time before his talent was recognised by someone in a higher league. As with most things in life though, when one door closes another opens, and it may mean that there are more starting opportunities for Tom Adams. More on that later.

Thirdly, a warm welcome back to Seb Downing. Seb last played for us in the 2018/19 season, picking up 7 goals and 9 assists in 14 appearances. He wasted no time on Saturday night getting his first point on his return with an assist. Best of luck to Seb for the rest of the season. His speed and aggression will no doubt continue to have a positive impact on our fortunes this year.

Right then, Basingstoke.

What a night. What a crowd. It’s another capacity game. Another 950 people turning out to watch Your Haringey Huskies, loud and proud. Large and in-charge.

Knowing what we know now, it’s less of a surprise that Tom starts in net. I imagine that Luke’s time will be carefully managed now that he will be playing more games every week, but I’d still expect to see him come in for the bigger matches. We know that Tom is more than capable and he put in some solid performances last year, but this also might be Haringey looking at what life looks like beyond Luke as well.

In general I think this result had been coming. We’d been due one of these. It’s the kind of result that we should have had against teams earlier in the season, but it’s come at a good time with sterner tests on the horizon. It was unfortunate for Basingstoke that they happened to be the team in front of us when we decided to turn it on in emphatic and unapologetic style.

The first 2 periods in fairness were at times tetchy, at times loose, there was little in the way of control from either team and the game seemed wide-open even after Haringey took a 4 goal lead.

There are chances either end, and after 5 minutes it feels like the Huskies have found their groove, only to lose it again, a pattern which would be familiar all game. Stephen Woodford skates the length of the rink and cuts back to James Hepburn who has his shot saved. Gheorge Dragomir has two attempts at skating with speed through their defensive line on the power play, only to be blocked each time. Tom makes several 1-on-1 saves when Basingstoke get on the puck.

It takes a moment of individual brilliance to get the Huskies on the scoreboard after 6 minutes. Ryan Payne receives the puck from Seb Downing, skates across both blue lines from right to left, carries the puck past his man and slots from the left D into the bottom of the Buffalo’s net. 1-0.

Joe Willingham had a great game I thought. He often does. Joe carries the puck to the right, dekes, and fires narrowly over the bar. This time it’s Matt Hepburn carrying it down the right-hand side. He passes it to Joe in front of the net who manages to squeeze it past David Wride in the Buffalos’ goal and it creeps over the line. 2-0. Lovely.

Basingstoke start the 2nd well, and Tom makes a good pad save after 30 seconds. James  busts an absolute lung and him and Stuart Appleby set the pace for the Huskies. Seb has a look saved, skating from centre ice. A third goal almost comes with several players on the floor, but the puck drifts wide. Ian Germanier-Torrado and James make important blocks at the other end.

With the Basingstoke netminder on the floor, Stephen shoots and scores from the right after assists come from Marton Szasz and Stuart. 3-0.

With five to go in the 2nd, Bradley Taylor, who had been too strong for Basingstoke all game, picks up the puck near the left point and scores an almost carbon copy of the goal he scored at Invicta. This time without the plexiglass celly. 4-0. Here we go!

There are so many chances the Huskies create for themselves that I cannot possibly list them all here. Suffice it to say that 4-0 after 2 periods flattered Basingstoke.

At the top of the 3rd Marton has a shot gloved after about 4 seconds. Stuart inexplicably doesn’t score when his shot rebounds down off the bar and back onto the ice. Tom makes more saves from close range. Leo de Souza does a fantastic job of tracking back to deny a shooting chance. By now I’m thinking that a shutout might be on the cards, but of course can’t say it for fear of jinxing it.

Matt Hepburn gets his goal, the puck squirming beyond David Wride, after some great play by Ryan McFarlane. 5-0. From the face-off, Marton skates into the offensive zone and scores himself. 6-0. What is going on here? The Buffalos are by now exhausted and out of ideas. But the Huskies aren’t done yet.

James steals the puck with a poke check, fakes twice and then shoots from the right into the top of the net. 7-0. And for my money, the goal of the game. That or Ryan Payne’s.

Stuart gets a redirect from Matt Hepburn’s shot off the post. 8-0. Any more?

James scores a lovely backhanded shot, dekeing from the right. 9-0. Surely that’s it now, no? He then completes his hattrick with a minute to go shorthanded, after Gheorge steals the puck.

10-0. All done.

At the moment, and particularly on Saturday night’s evidence, it seems as if we are going to have to score by committee this season, which is perhaps no bad thing. Last year we relied heavily on a few high-scoring players such as Sam Roberts (20), Stephen (16) and Ryan Gadeke (11). Ten games into this season and, by my very rough estimates, Marton Szasz leads with 7 followed by Sam and Gheorge on 5 each.

Special mention must go to Basingstoke’s player of the match and ex-Haringey veteran David Wride, who made a tremendous triple save in the 3rd with 5 minutes left. To be fair to him, he had precious little protection all game and did well to keep it to just 10.

There’s an argument for several Huskies players to get player of the match; James for his hattrick, I think there’s a shout for both Ryan MacFarlane and Matt France who seem eternally cool on the puck in any situation, Matt Hepburn, Ryan Gadeke, Stuart, among others. But it absolutely had to go to Tom for his first game of the season, our first shutout, and his towering performance between the pipes. Well done Tom.

It’s Basingstoke again next Sunday. Same again please lads.

Photos by Phil Hutchinson (https://philhutchinsonphotography.net/)

View or download the game sheet here: