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Coach stresses basics after Kings drop two

The Kitchener Dutchmen squeaked past the Elmira Sugar Kings 3-2 in a penalty-filled game at the Woolwich Memorial Centre last Sunday. Coach Haddaway blames the loss on a lack of discipline.

“When things got down a little bit, we got too individual,” he said of the results Nov. 7. “A lot of times players want to take it on themselves to be that person to tie up the game or to get that next big goal but for us to do well, we need to be working together as a team.”

In a match with 75 minutes of penalties, the Dutchmen’s effective powerplay capitalized on two of their nine man-advantages. Elmira managed almost twice as many shots (37-21), yet were only able to get two pucks past the Kitchener netminder. A very physical game created a lot of powerplay chances for both teams, nine and 10 for Kitchener and Elmira respectively, but Elmira was unable to take advantage of their chances, going 0-for-10.

The first period saw Elmira take control of the play; the Kings fired 14 shots on the Dutchmen’s goaltender while keeping Kitchener to only eight shots. Their fast-paced play gave Elmira an early lead with a goal by Lukas Baleshta off a feed from Spencer MacCormack just fewer than nine minutes into the game.

“The first period was probably our best,” said the coach. “After that, we sort of became our own worst enemies.”

When unable to capitalize on opportunities, both teams stepped up the chippy play, providing plenty of opportunities for their special teams: 11 penalties were handed out, ranging from bench minors, to unsportsmanlike conduct, abuse of officials, and checking from behind.

The same Elmira offensive pressure continued into the second period – the Kings put another 14 pucks on net, but they couldn’t bury any of them. In this frame, Kitchener had only limited chances, but they made effective use of them. With only five shots on net in 20 minutes, the Dutchmen were able to put two of those past Elmira netminder Tyler McGregor.

“Our powerplay struggled on Sunday and that has been an on-and-off issue throughout the year,” said Haddaway.

“We are working on that, as well as our penalty killing and I know we have the personnel to get better at those things. We just need to simplify things a bit, and we need to get back to basics.”

The intensity of the second period carried over to the last frame, with another 12 penalties handed out within the last 20 minutes: two ‘too many men’ minor infractions, more unsportsmanlike conduct, plus some roughing, and another ‘abuse of officials’ misconduct penalty.

Kitchener struck first with their second powerplay goal of the game by Phil Edgar, just six minutes into the period.
Elmira’s Brady Campbell (Wade Pfeffer, Baleshta) battled back with one of his own, less than two minutes later to close the gap to one. That was as close as it got, as a late push came up short, leaving the Dutchmen to enjoy a 3-2 final.

“This is something that happens throughout a season,” said Haddaway of the Kings’ weekend slump – the team lost to Stratford 7-2 on Nov. 5. “You hit some bumps in the road and good teams find ways to face that adversity and overcome it. I have the same amount of faith if not more faith in our guys now than I did two weeks ago when we were hot.”

The Kings play three games this weekend. Their next home game is tomorrow (Sunday) against Stoney Creek at the Woolwich Memorial Centre. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

“We have a lot of games coming up in a short period of time and I am anxious to get going. It’s going to be a great test for us and we will get through it.”

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