Elmira fans left the Woolwich Memorial Centre happy Sunday night, as the Sugar Kings posted a 4-3 win over the Stratford Cullitons.
The victory was the result of a “really complete effort,” said coach Geoff Haddaway.
Coupled with a 4-2 win Tuesday night in Kitchener, the Kings’ record now stands at 9-10-2, putting them in sixth spot in the Midwestern Conference.
Sunday night’s game started out relatively slowly for the Kings, with Stratford’s James Graham netting one within the first two minutes of play time, and it was another 14 minutes until they were able to even the score. Defenceman Jon Jutzi got the equalizer, with assists by Spencer MacCormack and Lukas Baleshta.
“I’ll be the first to admit the first couple of minutes weren’t our greatest,” said Haddaway. “But as the first period went on, we got stronger, and I think we carried that strength through to the rest of the game.”
Outshot 14-8 in the opening frame, the Kings turned the tables in the second 22-9. But goals were hard to come by on either side: it wasn’t until 16:29 that MacCormack (Shane Smith and Jeff Zippel) beat Culliton netminder Cody Vinnai to put Elmira up 2-1.
That lead was short-lived, however, as Stratford’s Steve McParland quickly replied with a goal at 18:05, sending the teams off the ice tied at 2-2.
As the players came out of the dressing room for the third time, both teams had their eyes on the prize – and weren’t about to give it up too easily.
“Stratford is a really quick team and I think they pushed us to be faster. We managed to match their speed,” Haddaway noted.
It was Stratford that got things rolling, as Craig Dalrymple beat goalie Brendan Gorecki at 2:59. For most of the period, the Kings scrambled to find the equalizer, with their efforts finally rewarded with less than four minutes remaining. Brad Kraus, assisted by Jarred Parent and Michael Therrien, made it 3-3.
Just as it seemed the game would surely go into overtime, Parent took the puck cleanly down the ice to score a goal of his own with 1:09 left on the clock, bringing the appreciative crowd out of their seats. Assists went to Smith and Kraus.
“It was exciting. The game had a playoff atmosphere to it, it was exceptionally fast,” said Haddway following third-period action.
Parent’s two points at the end of the game were well-earned, the coach noted.
“A lot of people don’t know about Jarred, but if you ask the other guys, they know who he is and how hard he works and what he brings to our team every single night. It was nice to see his name get on the game sheet.”
Haddaway also said that he was happy with the effort put in by all of his charges during this game, and noted how unique an opportunity it was for the players to show their strengths, as they were short several players due to illness and injury.
“A lot of the guys had a chance to prove they could step up, and they definitely did that.”
The Kings are in the midst of a long break; they don’t play again until Nov. 21, when the Waterloo Siskins come to town.