Haringey Huskies 10, Swindon Wildcats 1

National Ice Hockey League – South 2

21st January 2023

By Tom Pink

“Will pay cash for ticket”.

That’s how the sign read by the queue on Saturday night.

I really hope they made it into the game, because they would have missed something really special otherwise. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been the only ones either. Last week was probably tense for a number of Huskies’ fans, judging by social media. It’s a great advert for buying a season ticket next year.

That was special though.

Capacity crowd. 1,050 of you turning up to cheer on Your Haringey Huskies. We knew that it had to start Saturday night; these last 8 games, these 8 finals of ours. We knew that it was 5 games in 3 weeks. My word, what a way to kick this run-in off.

We welcomed back D-man Jaden Boolkah too. Jaden only iced 4 times for Haringey in the 2019/20 season before joining Chelmsford Chieftains in NIHL1. That Jaden comes straight into our starting 6 tells you everything you need to know about him.

Like Marton Szasz earlier this year, the coaches obviously trust him. And on that performance it’s very well placed. I thought he played exceptionally well and he adds a lot of quality to our defensive line. Not that there was any of that missing on Saturday night in black white and grey. Far from it.

Swindon were an interesting proposition. Coming off the back of a 4-game win streak, among them Peterborough, Chelmsford, and Invicta. I’d anticipated a fairly close match, considering we squeaked past them 4-3 at their barn in November. But this was the rampant Huskies at their most ruthless. The statement making Huskies; the laying-down-a-marker Huskies.

Even though we go into the first break leading 2-0, it’s still a close game up until that point. The game starts at an electric pace. It took 10 minutes to settle into a rhythm of Haringey possession and Swindon trying to get a breakaway. After 4 minutes Sam Roberts receives the puck from Tom Avery on the right, skates across goal and lifts it backhand, top shelf for a lovely opener.

Two minutes later and there’s a mad scramble in the Swindon crease. The puck comes out to Ryan McFarlane who takes his time before slotting from the hash marks, cool as you like, for 2-0.

I think Matt France has one of his best games this season, utterly imperious in the Huskies’ defence. Too strong, too much awareness for the Swindon forwards. Joe Willingham nearly forces a goal but can’t get a decent shot off; Sam’s played in by Ryan Gadeke for a 1-on-1 but it’s saved low down.

Luke Clark is an unbelievably good shot stopper. There’s a couple of instances where he nearly loses the puck after coming out of his crease to claim it which were a bit nervy, but the saves he made were second to none.

There’s a late hit on him by Swindon defender George Howe which marked his card for the rest of the game. I can’t think of many Haringey players who didn’t leave one on him after that.

Swindon do get their goal though at the beginning of the second, with forward Haydn Lee skating from left to right across the slot and shooting back across goal to make it 2-1. Marton almost makes amends straight away but his shot is gloved.

After 5 minutes have gone, Bradley Taylor scores the classic Bradley Taylor goal for the 3rd or 4th time this year; a cannon from the blue line straight into the back of the net to restore the Huskies’ two goal advantage.

Tom Avery then nearly makes it 4 straight off the bench to pick up the puck for a 1-on-1 but can’t score to the left of the Swindon netminder. Marton plays a wonderful give-and-go with Mac. Mac’s shot from the right is blocked and Sam is there to tidy up from the slot for 4-1. Huskies cruising now.

Jaden makes an impact on his debut as well. From the left wing he centres the puck to Marton who goes 5-hole for a really slick move. 5-1. After this Swindon change netminders and Ben Clarke-Leach comes in for Amelia McGinlay.

Any prospect of a competitive game is gone by the third. And Haringey pick up where they left off. Mac fires a shot from the right wing which is wickedly redirected by Marton on the doorstep for his second of the night and Haringey’s 6th.

There’s still an edge to the game with some big hits and a bit of nark. After the Swindon penalty for goalie interference, it felt as if the fight was inevitable. The hits had continued to come for George Howe and it was always going to be Luke Martin who dropped the gloves.

I thought Matt Hepburn showed fantastic energy all night, winning the puck back in the offensive zone on several occasions and he never let the Swindon players settle. Matt wins it again and finds Ryan Payne in the centre who rifles a first time shot into the roof of the net.

Ryan’s amongst the goals again 4 minutes later to make it 8-1 after some really nice combination play down the right wing between him and Sam. And a mere 20 seconds later Ryan could have had his hattrick, but his one-timer is blocked and Matt Hepburn gets his goal from close range.

The last goal of the night, and the one the fans had all been chanting for, goes to Péter Tóth who sweeps in Sam’s shot after it had been saved by the Swindon goalie. Another 10 goal game for Haringey. Another blistering performance.

Player of the match went to Ryan Payne whose work across both blue lines and two goals were impossible to ignore. 

So it’s 1 final down, 7 to go. There’s home games for the next 3 Saturdays with a road game at Guildford in amongst them; I’d recommend getting your tickets sooner rather than later to avoid missing out as they are all high stakes games from now on.

At about 8:00pm on February 11th we’ll have a much clearer picture of how this league might end up. I said before that I thought it would take 7 wins from the last 8 games to clinch the league, but we may be looking at wins from all 7 left to get it over the line. I can’t see Bristol losing any of their last games, but you never know. What a ride this is going to be.

But it’s now a 9 game win streak for the Huskies, and I wouldn’t put it past them to go on for another 7 more.

See you on Saturday, ticket or no ticket.

Let’s Go Huskies.