Ontario Junior Hockey League resident writer Ron Valentine is profiling the 2023-24 team captains across The OJ. (Photo by Michelle Malvaso / OJHL Images)


Veteran forward Patrick Saini will lead this season’s edition of the Haliburton County Huskies. Patrick, who was drafted by the Flint Firebirds of the Ontario Hockey League in 2019, has accumulated 154 points in his three terms in the OJHL. 

He debuted in the 2019-20 campaign for the Whitby Fury and moved with the club when it became the Huskies and relocated to Minden. 

Last season, he put up 66 points to finish in 21st place in OJHL scoring and third on the Huskies. Patrick recorded hat tricks against St. Michael’s and Trenton. His 10 points in nine playoff games put him second on the team behind defenceman Isaac Sooklal. He spent just six minutes in the penalty box.

Patrick looks back.

“I played my early hockey at the Ted Reeve Arena, which was just a few steps from where we lived in Toronto. Then I played for the North York Rangers at the AAA level. COVID-19 wiped out what would have been my second season with the Whitby Fury and then the club moved to Minden and that’s been a terrific experience for me. Opposing players coming into our arena are taken aback by the noise and enthusiasm of our fans.”

“We were looking for first place in the South-East last season, but we were able to get to second spot only to fall back to third in a tight race. In the first playoff round against the Patriots we were lucky enough to come out on the right end of two overtime games against a very good (Toronto) Patriots team that stuck to their system and were hard to play against. Our games with the (Wellington) were close except for one blowout. Overall, there were lots of plusses from a personal as well as a team point of view.”

…and forward.

“Naturally, we are looking to go further this season. We have lost quite a few players to overage but we will still be very competitive. I’m looking for big things from Lucas Stevenson. I played on his line at times but he had a really tough season with injuries, missing more than half the season. He will be in his final year. Jack Staniland, who will wear an ‘A’, will be our defensive anchor. He is also a 20-year-old. I also can’t say enough about our head coach, Ryan Ramsay, I just love playing for him and his group.”

On being captain.

“It’s an honour to be captain in my last year. I’ve learned a lot from previous captains, including Nathan Porter and Christian Stevens, but I’ll have my own style  – setting a good example and treating all the players fairly and equally, whether they are a new 16-year-old or a veteran. If we’re down a couple of goals in a big game, they’ll also hear my voice! Overall, it’s really important to become a group of brothers because if we are all pointed in the same direction that’s where success starts.”

What’s it like playing in Minden?

“It’s a great place to play hockey. Quite the change when we originally moved there from the GTA but in a very positive way. The crowd is always buzzing and the community has really accepted us. It’s a case of mutual appreciation. We help out the local minor team, the Highland Storm. We’re in the Christmas parade and we go to community events whenever we can.”

Life outside hockey.

“I love to be in the great outdoors. Hiking, mountain climbing, walking the trails and some fishing, even though I’m not very good at it!”

The future.

“My goals are similar to most last-year junior players, to play hockey and get a good education at the same time. It’s great to see the Governors’ Showcase back in Buffalo with so many scouts in attendance. Over my career so far, I’ve played in quite a few tournaments there and I always enjoy it. 

The OJHL regular season begins on Sept. 7.

Follow Ron Valentine on X @ronandlynda


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