Haringey Huskies vs Swindon Wildcats 2

Wilkinson Quarter Finals

25th March 2023

By Tom Pink

With regard to the final league standings, what an awful way to end a brilliant season. It’s desperate, desperate stuff.

I doubt Bristol will care though. Guildford will a great deal I imagine. For Bristol to take 0 points from them over the two league games, and be facing a trip to Peterborough, Guildford surely must feel aggrieved. But we are where we are.

When you have the highest scoring player in the league, you’re always likely to be there or thereabouts, and Bristol can point to a 19-3-0 record prior to this as well.

Whether Guildford get a chance to air their grievances on the ice will have a lot to do with the Invicta Mustangs and about 20 lads in black and white at 6:30pm this Saturday.

Before we can get into that, there was a quarterfinal against Swindon that needed sorting. Having won 10-1 and 4-3 in the league, we know that we can beat this team and beat them well.

It was great to see Ryan Payne back from injury so soon after missing out against Invicta last time, and I thought he came in and had a decent game.

James Hepburn has the first shot in anger, collecting Stephen Woodford’s pass and firing a shot off. There’s nice play between Sam Roberts, Tom Avery and Ryan Gadeke who work it to the right wing where Ryan’s shot flies off the Swindon goalie’s pad. Bryn Griffiths rips one from the left which hits the post.

It’s a fairly disjointed first five from both teams. But it’s that line that breaks the deadlock, with Sam and Ryan turning the puck over and Tom taking it to the crease and scoring in the top right corner. Péter Tóth puts himself about early and is a great physical presence throughout.

Swindon comeback though. They have a couple of good looks and hit the post after a period of possession. A shot from the right wing is saved but it ricochets out to the slot and Swindon score over the sprawled Luke Clark. 1-1.

We get two chances almost on top of each other. I think it’s Luke who makes a clearance that Joe Willingham latches onto. He races to the slot but can’t score, and as the puck rebounds off the goalie’s pads, James finds himself in exactly the same position but can’t score either.

There’s a big let off at the back door as a Swindon player mishits the puck, skewing away from the gaping net. Corey Taylor gets a good block to a shot from the point, which loops up into the air and into the waiting glove of Luke Clark. Stuart Appleby has a couple of shots saved, and Doc fires over the bar on a 2-on-1 situation.

With five left, Ryan McFarlane finds Leo de Souza who sends a saucer over to Joe at the backdoor who sends it home. Ten seconds later, Woody makes it 3-1 just before the break, from close.

It’s a much better end to the period for Haringey, but Swindon threaten late on. A shot from the blue line bounces off the underside of the bar and out, luckily.

In the second, we kick-on. Woody plays a delightful through-the-legs drop off to Stu who carries it across the blue line from the right and goes backhand short side but it’s saved and covered.

Swindon ring another shot off the iron. Jaden Boolkah does well to put his body in the way and crowd-out a Swindon forward.

For 4-1 it’s a bizarre goal. From the right-wing Woody passes the puck on net and it goes straight in, 5-hole; Swindon keeper in utter dismay.

I’m certain that the fifth should go down as a Ryan Gadeke goal. Lovely one-time passing between Sam and Ryan all the way up the slot. They reach the crease and it’s Ryan that does the honours from the left-hand side. Luke makes a marvellous double-save with five remaining.

Tom plays it to Sam d-to-d who sends a wrister top right from the hash marks for six. He’s almost in again straight from puck drop, but it’s saved. Haringey well and truly cruising.

The start of the third offers up a real treat. We may be looking at goal of the season here. What an individual effort.

Joe skates across both lines, deking past the entire Swindon team it seems, shifting left to right, before heading to the blue paint and slotting past the Swindon netminder. A really, really good goal.

Swindon rally at the end. Stu goes to ice to make an important block. Bryn makes a vital clearance from the crease. With 10 left Swindon hit the bar, again. They’re knocking. Matt France shows his strength in his defensive duties.

The scoring is capped off by Stu. Marton Szasz hits a shot from the left point, and Stu screening, tips it in front from the blue paint for eight.

There’s a late consolation for Swindon with less than a minute to go. They move the puck across the slot from the left, and a one-timer nestles in the bottom left of the Haringey cage. 8-2, all done and dusted.

Stu picks up Player of the Match. It’s another barnstorming performance from the Captain and I hope he can carry it on through to the Semi’s.

A solid performance all round and a result we expected. Swindon had chances though. I counted four shots off the iron for the Wildcats, and on another day we might have been looking at a closer scoreline. But as it was Haringey are by far the more clinical.

I couldn’t make it to Swindon on the Sunday at such short notice, but the Huskies duly get the job done. In all honesty it would have taken some performance from Swindon to overcome the six-goal deficit from the first leg.

And so the Huskies march on. A familiar foe awaits.

By my count I make it played seven, lost six, tied one (the second leg of the cup last year which ends 4-4). We’ve been resoundingly spanked, we’ve come close, we’ve tried fighting them, we’ve tried outworking them, we’ve tried horses for courses and changed our lines. Nothing so far has translated into a win.

Surprisingly though, I’m more confident than ever that we can turn the tide at the weekend. There wasn’t much between the teams in the last two meetings. We’re going to have to score though and score well. That’s for certain. But that’s possible. Anything’s possible when Haringey are in the mood.

We know what nights at the Palace can produce, we’ve seen it this season. I wouldn’t put anything past this team. But we’ve got to do our bit too.

Get in early, get loud, and get behind Your Haringey Huskies. Let’s turn the possible into reality.

Let’s Go Huskies.