Haringey Huskies 7, Cardiff Fire 1

National Ice Hockey League – South 2

28th January 2023

By Tom Pink

Haringey may be looking at expanding the size of their penalty boxes after that. What an ill-tempered game. Flash-points all over the ice. You got a sense of it at Cardiff last year, but here it boils over.

The Huskies get straight into it. Performance wise I thought it was even better than last week’s 10-1 win. The plays we made, the passing, the teamwork was all there. There’s a feeling that we’re getting better and better with each game, which can be no bad thing. Especially with our remaining games.

After 10 seconds Ryan McFarlane finds Stuart Appleby from behind the goal line, but Stu’s shot is saved down low. James Hepburn centres to Ryan Payne in the offensive zone whose one-timer finds the Cardiff goalie’s pad.

Bradley Taylor plays a brilliant lob from centre ice for Marton Szasz to chase. Marton collects the puck but he flips his backhand shot over the bar. It’s more patient play on the forecheck from Haringey. Jaden’s shot from the hash marks rings off the iron.

It’s all Huskies and Cardiff don’t get a sniff for the first 10 minutes.The shots rain down on the Cardiff net.

Leo de Souza skates across the blue line to find Ryan Payne whose backhand shot is saved. The first Huskies goal is a thing of beauty. Wow. Jaden carries the puck past at least 3 Cardiff players, and you think for all the world he’s going to send it hurtling towards net. But he has the awareness to drop it off to Tom Avery who dispatches from the slot for 1-0.

At the other end, Luke Clark makes a remarkable point blank save from a 1-on-1 situation. Just instinctive, amazing reaction speed. There’s an absolute gift that falls to Stu in the slot, a mis-hit from one of the Cardiff players, but he can’t convert.

The backchecking from Ryan Payne and Jaden is hugely impressive. We have the meanest defence in the league at the moment shipping just 36 goals, and it’s little surprise when you look through our defensive line.

Stuart skates the length of the ice and finds Stephen Woodford behind the goal line. Stephen feeds Marton whose shot is saved, looping up into the air before being slapped in baseball style by the waiting Stephen. 2-0, and the Huskies well on their way to a performance and result we’ve seen time and again this season.

The Huskies cruised the first period. Totally dominant and playing with purpose and really nice interplay. They could and should have been ahead by more though.

I actually missed the Huskies 3rd goal. I was too occupied with typing about the good play between Ryan Gadeke and Sam. It is Sam who gets it though after three minutes in the second, with assists from Matt Hepburn and Ryan McFarlane (if you read these Sam, apologies! I’m sure it was a very good goal, they usually are).

Stu tries the wraparound but it’s blocked by the Cardiff goalie. There’s a really good understanding between Tom and Sam in that second line. You can see it on the ice, they’re always looking to find each other. Tom shows good hands to craft a shooting opportunity which is saved, and he can’t quite get the follow-up.

Soon after, Cardiff score on the power play, a rarity against Haringey this season. There’s space and time for Cardiff forward Iwan Davies to bring the puck across the slot and score far side. The complexion of the game changes for about 5 minutes. There’s suddenly tension.

The gloves get dropped and there’s some 5-on-3 hockey and you fear the worst; that Cardiff could find their way back here. Stu makes an impressive sliding block, throwing himself in front of a shot. There’s a couple of big saves by Luke too. But it’s an almighty penalty kill at a time when we looked really vulnerable.

But then there’s a moment. Another of those moments that the Huskies produce. The ones we’ll look back on at the end of the season. Matt Hepburn is played in by Bryn Griffiths and carries the puck on the left wing, passes the Cardiff defender and sends a wrister far side. Matt skates away and lands sitting on the boards, with the rest of the team joining him in the celly. Wonderful stuff.

This seems to get the Huskies going again, and that brief spell of nervousness disappears. James Hepburn skates across the blue line and with a toe drag to take the puck away from the Cardiff defender, his shot down the middle is smothered.

There’s more Haringey pressure and the Haringey forecheck is so effective. More patient play from Matt France on the right wing, who picks his moment to slide the puck across a packed crease to find Jaden at the backdoor. With the net at his mercy, Jaden scores the Huskies’ 5th with a couple of minutes left in the second.

Sam has the vision to play a pass across both lines to find Ryan Gadeke, whose 5-hole attempt is saved. Tom nearly gets lucky with a disguised shot. Woody finds some reserves of energy to get to the puck before the Cardiff goalie and defender during some hesitant play, but can’t find anyone in support.

The third is a formality. There’s more 5-on-3 hockey, this time with the Huskies on the power play. Matt France plays a well disguised pass to Jaden who can only hit the bar. The 6th Haringey goal comes after 5 minutes. This time it’s Stephen from the centre.

Woody turns provider with 2 minutes left on the clock. From behind the net he plays it back to Marton who goes high into the roof of the net for 7-1.

There’s chaos at the end of the third, and it feels as if it’s right on the brink of getting out of control. Each team has a player sent off and there are plenty of words exchanged on and off the ice. But Cardiff couldn’t beat us at hockey, and they couldn’t strongarm us either when they realised that.

Jaden picks up the Player of the Match award, and I’d be awarding it to him for his assist for the first goal alone, but his goal and all round play was top notch.

Next weekend is massive, a monster of a back-to-back. That really can’t be overstated. But you know that already.

We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year, or better results, or better form going into these 2 games against Guildford. If we play like we have been, like we know we can, we have a real chance of some redemption here; to banish last year’s demons and continue this run.

Let’s get in early, let’s make it noisy, and let’s see where these 10-in-a-row Huskies take us.

Photos by Phil Hutchinson (@77phil77sports): www.philhutchinsonphotography.net