Haringey Huskies 5, Peterborough Phantoms 4 (after overtime)

National Ice Hockey League – South 2

11th February 2023

By Tom Pink.

What. A. Game.

I’m still coming to terms with what we witnessed on Saturday night; trying to catch my breath. No doubt you may be as well. My word, what a spectacle.

The Huskies look very much out of it, until they suddenly look very much in it. Over and over again. A game where we never go ahead for pretty much as long as you can never go ahead and still win, playing catch-up for 64 minutes.

For as bad as it is, for as good as it is, that has to go down as one of the great Haringey victories. The manner of the win, the atmosphere, the opponents, who by the way played their part with gusto. It had it all.

If that was your first Huskies game, then welcome. There were several first-timers near where I was. You only went and chose the most exciting game of the season to join us, so well done you. It’s nights like these that are exactly why the rest of us keep coming back for more.

It’s as poor a start as you’ll see from the Huskies though. 0-1 down after 45 seconds. Peterborough pounce on a poorly timed Haringey line change for a breakaway goal, scoring farside from the left D. Last weekend’s double-header loss against Guildford still ringing in our ears.

The Phantoms are far too aggressive early on for the Huskies, who haven’t got a grip on the game at all. The first 10 Haringey struggle to stay in the game, and it could have been much worse but for some staunch defending. The Huskies show some of that determination, perseverance, and grit that they’ve shown a lot across this season.

Péter Tóth battles away behind the Haringey net to retain possession, and then makes a vital poke check to deny a 1-on-1. Luke Clark makes an incredible instinctive save from the slot. Jaden Boolkah steps in to intercept a Peterborough pass heading goalward.

But Haringey can’t get a stick on the puck, can’t clear the zone, and the Phantoms strike again. After 6 minutes, the Huskies lose it in the defensive zone and Peterborough score from the slot to double their lead early doors.  

Slowly, Haringey remember that they can actually play this game when they put their mind to it. Matt Hepburn lays it off for Ryan Payne, whose slapshot from the slot is padded away. Péter does well to carry it down the boards and get it to Stephen Woodford, who works it behind the goal line and puts it into the slot for Marton Szasz who goes backhand shortside to get us on our way. 1-2.

Two minutes later, and Sam Roberts works the puck across to the crease to find his best mate lurking at the backdoor, and Tom Avery puts it in to get Haringey back even on the power play.

Chances are created, and it seems as if we’ve turned a corner and got our mojo back. Marton finds Stephen whose shortside attempt is saved. Matt Hepburn does Matt Hepburn things and constantly presses and harries the Phantoms. Leo de Souza makes an excellent defensive block in the slot, just before Luke Clark’s miraculous save from the right. I don’t think he even sees the puck, but his positioning is good enough that it hits him and deflects over the bar.

We end the first strong, with Marton, Stephen, and Ryan Gadeke all having shots saved. So it was frustrating when we conceded after two minutes in the second. It’s another poor line change for the Huskies. Peterborough carry the puck from centre ice straight down the slot and score to regain the lead, totally unchallenged. Huskies behind once more.

But this time we’re quick to respond as well. And in some style. Flying down the right wing, Ryan Gadeke fires an absolute rocket from the point which the goalie has no chance of getting to. It flies straight in, top shelf to bring the Huskies level again. A wonderful, wonderful goal.

But only moments later, and the Huskies go behind again. It’s a complete scramble by the Haringey net, bodies on the floor, desperately trying to clear the zone. Peterborough shift the puck from left to right, and it’s basically an empty net. 3-4, and the Huskies needing to reply yet again. That really summed this game up; big highs to exasperating lows, round and round again.

The rest of the second period is mostly Haringey as they try to get back on equal terms. Marton puts it on a plate for Stephen across the slot, but he can’t quite finish it. Ryan Gadeke tries to capitalise on a fumble in the crease, but can’t jam it short side. Captain Stuart Appleby gets it to Matt France in the slot, but his shot is saved bottom left.

Luke Martin has a breakaway chance which is saved. As does Sam minutes later. Sam dekes and goes low to the goalies right, but it’s saved by the pads. Ryan McFarlane finds Matt Hepburn in the slot who shoots low and wide. Lots of encouraging signs, but time is ticking away.

The third starts with the Huskies needing to score. Jaden makes a sliding interception to take the puck away from the Peterborough forwards. Bradley Taylor rips one of his trademark shots from the point, but it’s wide.

After 5 minutes we get our third equalising goal of the night. Matt France, who we’ve seen on several occasions this season operating really well on that right wing on the forecheck, passes to his defensive partner Jaden on left whose shot from the hash marks goes far side. 4-4 on the power play.

Sam takes a nasty one to the face and has to go off for some treatment, but he’s back out on the ice after a couple of minutes. Haringey want to end this in regulation. Stuart has a snipe from the right, but Marton’s redirect on the doorstep is smothered.

There’s a rare, late chance for Peterborough at the death, but it thankfully rings of the post.

It goes to overtime, the nerve-shredding overtime, the overtime that historically we don’t win. Luke makes two unbelievable saves to deny the Phantoms. First, a double save from pretty much within the crease and second, getting a skate to the post to stop Peterborough jamming the puck home. Game saving saves.

Tom has a shot from the right wing saved by the stick of the goalie. There’s less than 20 seconds left to play. Just don’t concede now. Or even better, score. It’s that pair Sam and Tom linking up again who seal it for the Huskies. This time Tom repays the favour. He fizzes it into Sam who redirects it into the roof of the net at the backdoor. Total release, relief, and jubilation. What a noise from the fans, and everyone on their feet.

That must be there or thereabouts for the best crowd noise and atmosphere at the Palace this year. Completely electrifying. On and off the ice.

Jaden is awarded Player of the Match for another fantastic display. He has added more quality to our back line since coming in.

We now have a break of 4 weeks, returning on March 11th for the final home league game of the season. Invicta roll into town. It’ll then be Peterborough and Lee Valley on the road at some point, and that will be that.

When we look back over this season, there’ll be moments that we pick out as being particularly important and iconic. Defining moments. The OT winner against Peterborough will definitely be one of them.

Here’s to making more iconic Huskies moments, regardless of how the season finishes. Here’s to the OT-winning Huskies, the comeback-king Huskies.

0-0, 0-1, 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3, 3-3, 3-4, 4-4, 5-4.

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

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