After witnessing their 14-game win streak end on Oct. 16, the Elmira Sugar Kings responded by winning two of three games last weekend to remain atop the Midwestern Conference standings.
They dropped their first game of the weekend on Oct. 21, a close 3-2 decision to Stratford, before beating up on the Guelph Hurricanes 8-1 and the Owen Sound Greys 6-2 last Saturday and Sunday.
Elmira’s Riley Sonnenburg, Scott Nagy and Andrew Smith scored three unanswered goals in a span of 2:32 to start the second period to help propel the Kings to an easy win over the last place Greys last Sunday on home ice.
Owen Sound had won just twice in 15 games prior to their match to Elmira, including two losses to the Kings earlier in the season by a combined score of 13-4.
Despite the win, head coach Dean DeSilva still wasn’t overly pleased with the way his players performed.
“We did some really good things and we did some things that weren’t so good,” he said following the win Oct. 23.
“We had players that were cheating, players that were missing some of their assignments, (and players) taking shifts that were way too long.”
It’s a trend the players have noticed as well, and one they hope to shake for future games.
“We just stopped working as hard as we normally do and got into a bit of a slump there, but the past couple of games we’ve started to get back to what we were doing to be successful,” said captain Colton Wolfe-Sabo.
The Kings’ Michael Hasson opened the scoring early with his first goal of the year just 5:57 into the first period, finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Sonnenburg.
Sonnenburg held the puck long enough to draw in the defender before passing to Hasson, who fired it into the open net past Greys netminder Domingo Torrenueva.
That was all the offence the Kings could muster in the period, however, as Torreneuva made 12 saves to keep the Greys close after 20 minutes.
“We went in as coaches (after the first period) and said that was pond hockey,” said DeSilva of his team’s lack of effort and finish.
“We said ‘go out and do the system or you won’t play.’”
The speech seemed to work as the Kings responded with three quick goals to start the period.
Sonnenburg fired home a wrist shot just 18 seconds in on a nice behind-the-back pass from Smith in the slot to put the home team up 2-0.
Nagy added to the lead just under two minutes later with his 9th goal of the season. After coming off the bench, he received a nice pass off the boards from Devon Wagner, giving him a clear breakaway. Skating in off the right wing, he faked forehand before shoveling a back hand past the Greys keeper.
“In the intermission we just talked about playing our systems and forechecking hard and just getting it done,” said Nagy after the game. “I came off the bench and Wag’s (Wagner) gave me a good pass and I broke in and just buried it.”
Smith would tally his league-leading 19th goal of the year 19 seconds later at 2:32 on a quick wrist shot from the slot to give the Kings a 4-0 lead.
Mac Clutsam added another at 14:44 with his first career Junior B goal, and the Greys got on the board at 15:10 on a goalmouth scramble.
Despite the strong opening minutes of the second, the Kings reverted back to some of their old habits and began to play a very individualistic style of play, according to the head coach.
“The guys went out and executed for the first four minutes, […]but then went right back to their old habits. Some players ended up sitting a little and missing some ice time,” said DeSilva.
In the third the teams traded goals, with Wagner scoring his 2nd of the season at 11:22 and Owen Sound scoring at 11:49 for the 6-2 final. The Kings dominated in shots, holding a 46-14 edge by the end of the third.
New Kings goaltender Justis Husak, acquired on Oct. 20, picked up his second straight win after playing the previous night in Guelph for the 8-1 win. Nick Coone was released by the team the same day they picked up Husak. The club aims to use him as a backup goalie for Nick Horrigan, who is in his last year of Junior B eligibility.
“He’s here to push Nick and make Nick better, because when (Nick) is at the top of his game our team is better too,” said DeSilva of the move.
“Justis is a character young man who will do well in the room and next year for us.”
The Kings had the whole week off and face Brantford tomorrow (Sunday) at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena at 7 p.m. and the Kings know they will have to be a whole lot better against Brantford than they were against the Greys in order to be successful.
“If we make the same mistakes against Brantford as we did (against Owen Sound), we won’t come out on the winning end,” said DeSilva.
“We’ve got to stick to our systems and play the full 60 minutes and we have to keep the gas pedal down,” echoed Nagy.