The Elmira Sugar Kings split the weekend claiming a 4-1win on the road against the Cambridge Winter Hawks but losing 2-1 at home to the Listowel Cyclones.
On Nov. 5 the Kings travelled to the Galt Arena Gardens in Cambridge in a showdown against the fourth-placed Winter Hawks. It was a slow start for the visitors, who found themselves down 1-0 after 40 minutes only to respond with four unanswered goals in the final frame.
Elmira had its chances, but just couldn’t bury them thanks to Winter Hawks’ netminder Brendan Gorecki, who managed to stop two Kings’ breakaways in the second period.
“We controlled the game for the full game we just couldn’t seem to buy a goal. We were hitting posts and couldn’t get the puck to bounce right for us – it was just one of those games. We felt that if we just kept coming at them eventually we would see the goal we were looking for,” said Kings’
head coach Dean DeSilva.
The third period is where the Kings finally broke out, as forward Cass Frey picked up the puck and wrapped around the net before Gorecki could get across the crease, tying the game at 1-1.
Four minutes later forward Lukas Baleshta found himself alone deep in Winter Hawk territory and fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Gorecki to give his team the lead.
Michael Hasson would score the Kings’ third goal five minutes later during a Cambridge penalty and Brady Campbell closed the night out by scoring his ninth goal of the season.
“We felt it was just a matter of time. We controlled the play really well and kept Cambridge to the outside: it was just a matter of time before we put it in,” said DeSilva.
The coach was pleased with the way his team played Saturday night, praising veteran players Baleshta, goaltender Nick Horrigan, Frey and Campbell.
“Horrigan played a very good game. He didn’t have to make a lot of tough saves but he played well and made the saves when we needed it. Baleshta, Frey and Campbell were outstanding and I thought Frey was our best player all night as he played a great game.”
Horrigan stopped 35 of 36 shots on net, while Gorecki stopped 31 of 35 for Cambridge.
The following afternoon, Elmira hosted the sixth-placed Cyclones at the Dan Snyder Memorial Centre and would lose 2-1 in a game that should easily have been a win for the boys in green and white.
For most of the first period the Sugar Kings would be on the offensive as the Cyclones gave up four penalties in ten minutes but Elmira was unable find a way past Cyclone goaltender Michael Pesendorfer.
With less than five minutes remaining in the first Elmira opened the scoring with a beautiful pass from Riley Sonnenburg to Brent Priestap, who snapped it past Pesendorfer at 15:18.
But that would be the only fruit of the day’s labours. Less than three minutes later the Cyclones charged down the ice, with Jeff Bauer slipping the puck behind goalie Justis Husak to tie the game at 1-1.
The second period was just three minutes in when Cyclone forward Brett McGuinness found a hole to score the winning goal for Listowel.
The rest of the game would see the Kings attacking hard but unable to find the back of the net before the final whistle blew.
Pasendorfer saved 41 shots of 42 for the win while Husak stopped 21 of 23 for the Kings.
“When you get 42 shots on net you need to score more than one,” said DeSilva. “Full credit to Listowel they worked hard against us and blocked a lot of our shots.”
DeSilva said his team has to start playing together and stop looking to increase individual stats.
“We have a couple of players on the team that want to score that pretty goal and that has been our downfall. When you have got the skills that we have, players want to dipsy-doodle instead of getting into the dirty area, getting in there and making things work to win battles to get the puck to someone else,” he said. “They want the glory for themselves and that is what the team is struggling with right now and that is something they are going to have to come to a realization about.”
The Kings (17-3-1) will be back on the ice at home on Nov. 13 against the Stratford Cullitons (17-1-0), who have only lost one game this season and are sitting in second place behind Elmira in the Midwestern Conference.