Christmas is over but the Elmira Sugar Kings are still in the giving mood, at least to their fans.The Kings went undefeated in their first two games of 2012, beating the Cambridge Winter Hawks 4-3 in a shoot-out Jan. 7 and the Owen Sound Greys 5-2 on home ice during a Sunday afternoon match-up. The holiday break may have been a bit too long for the Kings, who looked a little rusty in struggling against Cambridge at the Galt Arena during last Saturday’s contest.
“We were scrambling initially but that is to be expected after a two-week break and getting away from things, but over all I was pleased with the effort the boys gave during the game,” said head coach Dean DeSilva. “The mistakes we were making were consistent with being off and trying to force things and trying to do too much rather than reacting properly to what was coming at them.”
The first frame saw both teams with good chances but neither could connect until Cambridge found themselves with an advantage when two Kings – Mitch Dunning and Brett Priestap – were sent to the box with two separate penalties seconds apart, giving Hawks defenceman Marselis Subban the chance to pot the only goal of the period by beating goalie Nick Horrigan at 15:58.
Cambridge returned to the ice after the first intermission with a fire in its belly and caught the sleeping Elmira squad off guard when former King Brennon Pearce tallied the Hawks’ second goal of the night.
The Kings defended for the rest of the period until Will Cook broke out of his own end and found Andrew Smith deep in Hawks territory. Smith circled around the net before spotting Brad Kraus out front; his feed was quickly chipped over the glove of Cambridge netminder Lucas Machalski, finally putting the boys in green on the board.
The third period would start with the Kings down by one but that changed within the first minutes of the frame when Smith fired a shot over the right shoulder of Machalski to make it 2-2.
Cambridge responded quickly, however, potting another goal against Horrigan when Hawks forward Brock Campbell flicked the rubber bouncing against the post and into the net.
Down 3-2, the Kings went into full swing and managed to add another to their tally during a powerplay that had Lukas Baleshta scoring the tying point, with Wade Pfeffer and Michael Hasson collecting the assists.
The teams headed into overtime but neither would manage to find the back of the net, setting up a shootout.
Both Baleshta and Smith missed the target, leaving Riley Sonnenburg to score the only goal of the shootout, as Horrigan managed to shut down the Hawks. The Kings would finish the victors of a hard fought battle.
The next afternoon the Kings played host to the Owen Sound Greys at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena.
The homeboys got off to a great start, scoring two goals in the first minute of play.
Cash Seraphim got things rolling 30 seconds into the contest, beating Greys netminder Nicholas Caldwell, with Wade Pfeffer and Dunning collecting assists.
Moments later the Kings were once again on the scoreboard when Kraus potted one at 0:58.
The Greys were not to be counted out, getting one back before the end of the period when forward Brad Pitt stole the puck at centre ice and fired a wrist shot above the stick of Elmira goaltender Justis Husak to keep the Greys within one going into the first intermission.
The second frame saw the Kings take unnecessary penalties, with the team clocking 18 minutes in the box.
“We got a little selfish and were trying to be fancy and we got a little undisciplined, especially in the second period where we were taking silly penalties. We talked to the guys during the break and said the only thing you can control is your emotions: you can’t control the calls or what is going on with the other team, but you can control your emotions and your work ethic and that is how you win games,” said DeSilva.
Even though they were keeping the penalty box bench warm, the Kings still managed to score their third of the match when Sonnenburg scored his first of two on the night.
Grey defenceman Brooks Nelthorpe made it close again by beating Husak during a mix up in front of the Kings’ net at 16:05, the second and final goal of Owen Sounds’ night.
“[Husak] would love to have those two goals back, he should have saved both goals on him but he did what he had to do to give us the win,” said DeSilva.
The third period would see the Kings gain control of the game scoring twice off the sticks of Cook and Sonnenburg.
The Kings out-shot the Greys 62-18 for the win.
“We did better in the third period and still have to find our footing, but that happens in games after a long break; we will deal with it and move on from there,” said DeSilva.
The Kings are back in action today (Saturday) against Brantford and will be on home ice on Sunday against Listowel Cyclones.