Haringey Huskies 8, Chelmsford Warriors 4

17th December 2022

National Ice Hockey League – South 2

By Tom Pink

Where to start with that.

An odd one if I’m honest. Some really, really nice play and very encouraging. But some equally poor stuff from Haringey too.

The win is the main thing here. Let’s not lose sight of that. The two points all important. They ensure we stay top and put more pressure on those chasing. My word that was hard work at times though. In part because of Chelmsford’s performance against the odds, in part because of the Huskies’ own self-sabotage.

But the resilience this team has shown time and time again this year to get back on top of games is stunning. We’ll need more of that for the games to come.

That second period was horrible. It’s successive games that we’ve let a lead slip and our opponents back into the game. From 4-1 to 4-4, conceding 3 goals without reply was worrying in such quick succession. I hope that it’s a habit we can leave behind us in the New Year.

Chelmsford arrived with a short bench of only 11 players and no coach, which is less than ideal to say the least. The Warriors have the first shots of the game, forcing a save from Luke Clark and then another from the resulting face-off.

Sam Roberts, Stephen Woodford, and Leo de Souza are all involved early and there’s a few well-crafted chances to score. Leo skates the length of the ice, around the back of the net and finds Stuart Appleby in the slot who is crowded out before he can get his shot away. Joe Willingham is busy as ever, winning the puck back in our defensive zone and then getting a shot off at the blue line which pings off the goalie’s shoulder. Joe then pops-up at the backdoor but can’t force the puck in.

It’s cult hero Luke Martin who gets things rolling. Luke has been inspired in recent weeks, dropping into our defensive line. And he’s adding goals too. Luke gets the puck from Joe in the slot and rips one into the net for the opener.

For large parts of the first period, it felt for a long time like the Huskies were on a continuous power play; that they somehow had an extra player, such was the dominance of their forecheck. So much so that whenever Chelmsford had the puck they were mainly limited to shooting from the blue line whenever they got the chance.

But the Warriors responded instantly. On the power play they collect the puck from centre ice and all too easily make their way into our defensive zone and score bottom right from the left-hand D. Parity restored. It could be one of those games…

Hang on though, Haringey know a thing or two about instant responses too. This time it’s Ryan Gadeke scoring from close range to bring that lead back to the White Black and Grey.

The Huskies kick-on from this point. Luke Martin has a shot saved which Stephen tries to jam-in at the backdoor to no avail; Bradley Taylor hits a couple of big shots which the netminder pads away.

The dominance and pressure tells, and after working the puck side to side and back and forth, Sam shoots low from the left underneath the goalies pad to extend the lead to 3-1. A superbly worked team goal.

Chelmsford threaten towards the end of the period, having a shot off the iron as well as a goal disallowed. Stephen does ever so well to craft a 1-on-1 opportunity for himself, knocking the puck beyond a statuesque Chelmsford player but can’t convert. Happy days! End of the first, up by 2 and playing really well.

We continue in the same vein at the start of the second. Marton Szasz flips the puck from the crease and sees it ping off the bar, and then moments later Matt Hepburn arrives at the backdoor to tap in for 4-1 after the puck bounces off the Warriors netminder for another power play goal.

We should be up by more and it’s testament to Chelmsford and how they’re digging-in that it’s not a greater deficit.

And then out of nowhere, literally nowhere, we hit self-destruct. We totally switch off for about 5 minutes.

Luke Clark comes out of the crease to pick up a puck he possibly didn’t need to and plays it inch-perfectly into the path of a Chelmsford player who slots into the empty net for 4-2.

The Warriors come again moments later on the breakaway and score top right from just past the blue line for 4-3. What is going on here?

Ryan Gadeke has a glorious chance 1-on-1 to increase our lead, he does so well to create the opportunity but just can’t finish. Chelmsford make us pay for that, carrying the puck from the right into the slot and shooting far side back across Luke Clark for a very easy goal. Oh dear.

There was a change of atmosphere in the Palace after that, I think everyone suddenly knew we were in a game here. Matt France makes a huge interception to stop a Warrior’s attack.

But they shake themselves out of their stupor, they play through it, and yet again the Huskies have the staying power. Stuart knocks the puck in following-up on a pad save by the keeper and finishes with a great celly, sliding on his back around the back of the net.

Sam then gets his second from the left after some sustained Haringey pressure and makes it 6-4 at the end of the second, a period which swung back and forth enough to make you seasick.

Tom Adams replaces Luke Clark at the beginning of the third and you’re sat there thinking that that is the right call. So many times the saviour this season and last, Luke will have been disappointed with the second and third goals especially. The coaches help Luke out and put Tom in.

Tom picked up right where he left off with his shutout against Basingstoke and produced another solid performance. He makes a great double-save from the slot, and then another from the right wing. It’s a much more even game now.

Péter Tóth has a slap shot from the right point gloved. It was a great relief to see Marton back on the ice after his injury last week at Cardiff, just as he was growing into the game. He shows great skating skills, getting a shot off which is saved but followed-up by Stephen to make it 7:4.

James Hepburn seals it with a lovely move, skating right and left past two Warriors players and finding the net from the right. A really, really nice individual goal and one which he’d nearly scored at the beginning of the period.

Chelmsford put in a valiant display, and made it very uncomfortable for us in parts, but we were just too much for them in the end.

Ryan Gadeke is named Player of the Match for his brilliant display. I wrote last week about Tom Avery’s performances going under the radar and I think Ryan is very much in that bracket. A superb player for us whose absence you notice when he’s not playing.

And so we come to a close for the year. What a ride it’s been so far. These Huskies have given us a lot to shout about and I still think there’s more to come from them.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to the whole Huskies family. Rest up, eat well, hug your loved ones and keep them close. You’re going to need all your energy to roar these boys on in 2023.

It’s 8 games, it’s 5 home, it’s 3 away. It’s a run-in for the ages. It’s there, within reach. Just reach out and grab it.

The resilient Huskies, the dominant Huskies, the never-say-die Huskies.

For the last time in 2022, Let’s Go Huskies.

need all your energy to roar these boys on in 2023.

It’s 8 games, it’s 5 home, it’s 3 away. It’s a run-in for the ages. It’s there, within reach. Just reach out and grab it.

The resilient Huskies, the dominant Huskies, the never-say-die Huskies.

For the last time in 2022, Let’s Go Huskies.

Photos by Phil Hutchinson.

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