Haliburton Junior “D” Huskies, 1970–1971

The Haliburton Junior D Huskies, under the leadership of coach George Nicholls, manager Scotty LaRue, trainers Bob Nichol and Curry “Pork” Whittaker, and owner A.J. LaRue, dispelled concerns that they couldn’t be competitive against larger communities. The first Junior Huskies team in 1965 were known as a scrappy bunch but, over the next five years, the team evolved.

A new facility with artificial ice extended practice opportunities and NHL players, who were visiting Haliburton Hockey Haven, taught young players a fast-skating style that became the Huskies’ strength.  The 1969-70 Huskies team came agonizingly close to winning the OHA Cup, losing in the final series to Norwich.

Team manager, Scotty LaRue, was determined to build on that momentum as he recruited a lineup of skilled players for the next season. The members of the 1970-71 Junior “D” Huskies team soon became household names in Haliburton. Captain Bob Woodcock and Assistant Captains Craig Stamp and Gerry McElwain were backed up by a team with enough depth and stamina to become Central Ontario League Champions, Playoff Junior D Champions and Eastern Ontario Junior D Champions. Then they went on to secure the coveted OHA Cup.

The village of Haliburton cleared its calendar to cheer for the Huskies during the playoffs. It was an evenly matched series, with wins going back and forth between the Huskies and the Exeter Hawks, right up to the winner-take-all finale. A crowd of 1600 fans packed the Haliburton Community Centre. From the rookies to the star players, the Huskies played their hearts out. Exeter nearly forced the game into overtime with a power play advantage late in the game. But the Huskies maintained their slim lead and triumphed with a 6-5 win. Local newspapers reported that the crowd jumped on the ice in a scene that was pure pandemonium. The thrilling victory was celebrated late into the night.


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