There was reason to celebrate in the Sugar Kings’ dressing room last weekend as the team won all three of its weekend matches, extending a winning streak to five.
The team, which had been on three-game downward slant last month, has rallied back to 62 points, one point shy of third-place Brantford in the Midwestern Conference of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The Kings started and finished their weekend by causing Owen Sound some pain, beating them on Feb. 11 by a score of 7-1 and then clobbering them again 11-3 Sunday on home ice. In between matches with the Greys, the Kings met the Winter Hawks in Cambridge, posting a 7-4 victory.
Despite watching his team outshoot Owen Sound 98-49 over the weekend, Elmira coach Geoff Haddaway said the Greys were competitive, but couldn’t sustain the energy.
“The issue with Owen Sound is they’re just short so many bodies right now. They have so many significant injuries, it makes it difficult for them to compete over 60 minutes,” he said. “For any short period of time, they can compete.”
The Kings enjoyed playing three games in three nights, using the repeated wins to slingshot themselves to their final victory on Sunday night.
“We built some momentum up in Owen Sound and we got to come back and play again on Saturday and build on that momentum for Sunday,” Haddaway said. “I think the guys would rather play more hockey than less hockey.”
While fatigue could have been an issue by the time the Kings got home for last Sunday’s match, that was not the case.
The Greys made a good start on Feb. 13, scoring just 20 seconds in. The goal was quickly countered by Elmira’s Brennon Pearce, assisted by Brad Kraus and Devon Wagner at 3:49. Owen Sound demonstrated some of their short-term competitiveness at 10:17, bringing the score back to their favour. Elmira forward Jarred Parent made sure that was the last time the team from up north would be in the lead, taking advantage of a powerplay to score at 19:03, assisted by Josh MacDonald.
The teams began the second frame tied at two apiece, but Elmira would make that number a distant memory for the Greys. Captain Josh Woolley got things rolling by scoring an unassisted, short-handed goal at 1:52. Owen Sound would get to see plenty of rubber over those 20 minutes, with Elmira slipping the puck past goalie Domingo Torrenueva five more times.
“If we execute the way we know we’re capable of, then the results take care of themselves,” said Haddaway. “Every game should be the same way. Take care of what you’re supposed to do, execute your game-plan and you’ll be happy with the results.”
The Kings could have called it a day at the end of the second, leading the Greys 8-2, but the team came to play in the third, starting off the period with a goal from Ryan Clarkson, assisted by Lukas Baleshta and Cass Frey, at just under two minutes in. Owen Sound fought back, scoring one more goal at 4:30, but it wasn’t nearly enough to fend off Elmira, which scored twice more to finish up by eight goals.
With his team having just three more regular season games left, Haddaway can see the playoff light at the end of the tunnel approaching; he hopes last weekend is an indicator of the type of play to come for the Kings.
“This is what you live for. The playoffs are the most fun you’ll have all year,” he said. “It’s just a snapshot of the season, it’s the whole year wrapped up in a seven-game series.”
The Kings are on home ice against Listowel tomorrow night (Sunday). Game time is 7:30 p.m.