Basingstoke Buffalo 2, Haringey Huskies 5

20th November 2022

By Tom Pink

10-0 counts for nothing if you can’t back it up.

That’s what I would have said. That’s the direction we’d be heading here if the third period had gone the same way as the first and the second. I was all ready to write the post-mortem. I had the lines half-written in my head. But I’m so, so happy you’ll never have to read them.

After last week’s shutout against Basingstoke at the Palace, I was slightly surprised that Tom Adams didn’t keep his starting place in net. It was a storming performance, coming in for his first game of the season. I really hope he gets more chances and on that display he’s more than earned them.

It was difficult to know what to expect in the reverse fixture; after a chastening defeat would it be more of the same or would Basingstoke come out wanting to prove a point, having the chance to try again on their patch. It didn’t take long to find out.

We started uncharacteristically slowly. A glacial pace, which has not been like us so far this season. Basingstoke had all the early pressure and were doing all the simple things fairly well. Which was the opposite of Your Haringey Huskies.

We found it really difficult to make passes stick. There were individual errors, dallying on the puck, getting caught by harrying Buffalo, getting in each other’s way. When we managed to get into the offensive zone, invariably a pass or cutback would find no one in black and white there.

Ryan Payne does well tracking back, a leading light I thought in our depleted D-line. Stephen Woodford shows great hands, taking the puck away from two Basingstoke players but firing wide. Leo de Souza loses possession but has the determination to make the recovery.

There are a few good chances for the Huskies to score from Ryan Gadeke, Marton Szasz, and Stuart Appleby, but in the main it’s Basingstoke who look most likely to light the lamp. They loved playing the puck across both blue lines to try and force a 1-on-1, and were a constant threat.

After 8 minutes their dominance pays and it’s all too much. The Buffalo carry the puck into our defensive zone and two passes across the ice from our left D later, they score beyond the stick arm of Luke Clark. Easy.

Marton responds almost instantly from the face-off with a shot that David Wride gets a pad to. Ian Germanier-Torrado has a decent effort saved. Stuart forces his way through 3 or 4 Basingstoke players along the boards coming away with the puck. There’s grit there, it’s just everything else that’s lacking.

Basingstoke come again. Luke makes a great glove save high to his left. It’s been coming though and it’s during some 5-on-3 hockey that they make us pay again. The puck comes in from the left and a Buffalo player standing in front of the crease redirects it into the back of the net for 2-0.

That 10-0 seems a lifetime ago. An age. A distant and fleeting memory. This is the poorest 15 minutes I’ve seen us play this season. But I’ve written already this year about perseverance. About determination. About the idea that this team can win hockey games from miles back if they want to. They have what it takes, the identity, the purpose. They can make it count.

What it takes is some graft, some nous. The experience to know when a chance might be sniffed out. A bit of that never-say-die attitude. Matt Hepburn chases and chases a cause that is seemingly lost. David Wride fumbles the puck which Matt collects and chips in for a wonderful, wonderful short-handed goal. That’s our way back. That’s our way back in.

The second period starts brightly. Stuart and Leo have efforts, and Matt plays Ryan Gadeke in for a glorious opportunity which he can’t quite convert. At the other end Luke makes another fine 1-on-1 save, and there’s a huge let-off for Haringey as the puck squeezes its way through a crowd of players just past our back post. Luckily no Basingstoke player was there to tap it home. James Hepburn sends Joe Willingham on his way across the blue lines but his shot flies over.

The second ends having produced more of the same from the first in truth, and with one period left we have a lot to do to get back into this one. A lot.

With a couple of minutes gone in the third, it’s Matt who is sent through on a breakaway by Ryan Payne. Cool and collected, he takes his time and shoots beyond the Basingstoke netminder for his second shorthanded goal, restoring parity, and lighting a massive flashing sign in the minds of all the travelling Huskies fans that reads: COMEBACK.

Luke Martin, who is covering as a D-man, sees his shot redirected by James into the pads of David Wride. The Huskies smell blood. The tireless James carries the puck and shoots 5-hole, but it’s saved and it spills out into the path of Marton who lifts it into the empty net backhand for a massive, massive lead taking goal.

Suddenly it’s all Haringey. Whatever was said in the dressing room has had an effect. This is a different team altogether, a different prospect that Basingstoke cannot live with. Luke Clark plays the puck and finds Stephen, who in turn finds Marton, who in turn finds the back of the net. Simple but extremely effective. 4-2 and Marton’s second.

The Buffalo are still dangerous though, and with 5 minutes remaining Bradley Taylor makes a wonderful poke check recovery to deny a 1-on-1 situation. In the final minutes, Leo, who had played really well all evening, gets his reward. Receiving the puck from Joe, he sends it bouncing from the right-hand side straight at the Basingstoke net. David Wride can’t judge it properly and it squirms in behind him, completing an emphatic turnaround for 5-2.

You can’t bet against them, I’ve said it before. I should take my own advice. Leo is awarded player of the match which was deserved. Marton, the Hepburn brothers, and Ryan Payne might have been the other names in contention.

Attention must quickly turn to this coming weekend and this year’s first back-to-back. It’s a monster of a game at the Palace on Saturday against Streatham. Revenge, rivalry, redemption, it’s got it all. Must win? Maybe. There’s still games left of course, but the idea of taking 1 point off of Bristol and Streatham over 4 games isn’t one I’d like to indulge particularly. Oxford on the road will be no pushovers either.

So let’s get in early and get the Palace bouncing.

Let’s make it count, Huskies.