It’s back, it’s beautiful, it’s a 4-point weekend for Your Haringey Huskies.
That’s a perfect start to 2024 for Haringey, and a win on a Sunday thrown into the bargain. No sign of a New Year’s hangover, no rustiness from the Christmas break, straight back to the serious business of collecting points.
And boy do these lads like collecting points.
They’ve amassed 26 from a possible 30 so far, and they’ll want to get as many as they can of the 14 left up for grabs.
Three games left in January, two in February, and four in March; with the potential of two more if they progress from the cup semi’s. We’re coming towards the business end of the season and at the weekend we were shown all the signs that Haringey are more than up for this run in.
Saturday against Basingstoke had the potential to go the other way. It was such a close called thing to get out of their rink with the two points at the end of last year, and they could easily have come to the Palace and turned us over.
There’s considerably more control in the game from Haringey this time around though. We look after the puck better and don’t give it away as cheaply as we did in December. We made it more difficult for Basingstoke to turnover possession, which they did an awful lot in the reverse fixture.
The entire D was magnificent and, for me, made the difference on Saturday night. Ryan MacFarlane had a particularly good game I thought. He does really well taking up that position as last man, being that outlet, and finding those long range passes into centre ice. Corey Taylor too was a bright light in both games.
Basingstoke are slightly short benched, but you wouldn’t have guessed. I thought Morgan Parsons was a titan in net, filling-in for the absent Dan Weller-Evans. He more than deserved the Basingstoke player of the match award.
The first period is a mess, with neither side having much in the way of quality chances. Cass McCormack tries an audacious spin-o-rama but shovels the puck well wide. There’s a few half chances for the Buffalo but nothing more than that.
Ross Clarke makes his debut in the black and white, having most recently played for South 1’s Chelmsford Chieftains. He’s all energy and showed good hands and a decent shot on several occasions. Welcome to Haringey Ross!
Haringey’s opener comes towards the end of the second. Luke Clark gets his first point of the season with a fantastic assist, launching the puck into centre ice for Conner Smith to collect. He gains the zone on the breakaway and rips one far side above the goalie’s glove, in typical Conner Smith fashion.
The second goal comes five minutes into the third. Sam Roberts skates down the right, his shot’s deflected but Joe Tearall is there in the middle to make sure it crosses the line.
Much more composure in possession from the Huskies, but the Buffalos have chances. At the end of the second Luke makes a sprawling stick save across the goal line to deny a Basingstoke goal, and was forced into action on several other occasions.
It’s a shame that he doesn’t get the shutout, but with 46 seconds left on the clock, Hallam Wilson sends a wrister from the slot beyond the Haringey netminder. It had been coming, and for the last five minutes the Huskies were trying to hold on to what they had.
Overall it was nice to see the Huskies end their run of overtime madness. You can’t keep winning bonkers matches in overtime, as fun as they are, it’s just not sustainable.
Sunday started in a similar way to Saturday, in that it takes Haringey a while to grow into the game. Streatham are the better side for the first 10 minutes, and are unlucky not to lead through their penalty shot, but Luke makes a good save (and even better celebration!).
Haringey score two quickfire goals at the end of the period. Conner gets his first of the night from the crease, and Marton Szasz scores nearside from the left, the puck hitting the post and spinning in.
The Huskies’ third comes via Conner again, with Sam Roberts in the slot in acres of space Conner gives them eyes and goes backhand into the roof of the net with a brilliant bit of skill. I wouldn’t have liked to see Sam’s reaction if he’d missed!
It’s a physical game with some big hits. Streatham forward Ben Williams was a pest all evening and a source of much ire for Haringey.
The third period is something of a goalfest. Conner completes his hattrick at the start of the third period. I think that’s his second now this year (first away at Bristol). Matt Hepburn gets in on the action too, taking the puck around the front of the crease before slotting from the left.
Stuart Appleby scores from the slot, after Marton can’t finish seconds earlier. Streatham do get one back, Sam Jackson pounces on a pad save from Luke put back into the slot, and takes away his shutout hopes for the second night running.
Marton bags his second with an almost empty net, he pokes home at the back post. Goal of the night has to go to John Beldecos. He carries it across both lines, heads towards net, and for my money, scores 5-hole for an outstanding individual goal. He’s shown he’s got that in his locker before and loves to get forward to join the attack.
2-1 and 8-1. Two very different games but the same eventual outcome; Huskies win. The outcome that matters the most.
Across the weekend our penalty killing is impressive. There’s a few times when we’re two skaters down, 5 on 3, and we come out of it unscathed. Several more when we’re one skater down and we just shut the door. Brilliant stuff.
Cast your minds back to November, and it was the Peterborough Phantoms who ended the Huskies’ seven game win streak, the first seven games of the season. We struggled to score that day but it wasn’t for a lack of chances.
I’m expecting aggression and front-footed hockey from Peterborough. It’s another season defining game for us, both in terms of the league and the cup. Based on the result we’ll know who we’ll be playing in the cup semi-final the following weekend; Basingstoke or Guildford.
The Huskies have shown they mean business. It’s payback time. Let’s collect some more points.
Let’s Go Huskies.