The Sugar Kings scored five powerplay goals last Sunday night en route to a 6-3 win over the visiting Listowel Cyclones. The win was a welcome bounce back for the team following a disappointing 4-3 letdown in Brantford the previous night.
“I was very pleased with our effort right from the opening faceoff compared to the night before,” said head coach Dean DeSilva following the win over Listowel.
“I thought we had a lot more jump and we had a lot more puck presence all over the ice, so I was very, very pleased with the way the guys responded.”
Michael Hasson led the way Jan. 15 against the Cyclones with two goals and three assists. Scott Nagy also chipped in a goal and three assists, while Riley Sonnenburg collected a pair of goals and an assist.
Nick Horrigan made 24 saves for the win.
Hasson got the scoring started early with his 13th goal of the campaign just 1:56 into the first period on the powerplay on a shot from a bad angle near the side boards. New Sugar King forward Brett Catto – acquired in a trade from Listowel on Jan. 11 in return for defenceman Craig Johnson – collected the only assist.
Sonnenburg extended that lead to 2-0 with a powerplay goal of his own at 7:41. Hasson got the puck up to Nagy near the red line, who then made a nifty cross-ice pass to Sonnenburg coming down the wing and he snapped it past goaltender Michael Pesendorfer.
Listowel cut into that two-goal lead at 15:53 on a shot that squeezed between Horrigan’s pads and the post, but Andrew Smith got that one back just under three minutes later from Sonnenburg and Brett Priestap at 18:39 to make it 3-1.
Sonnenburg banked a pass off the boards near centre ice to Smith, who was streaking down the left wing. He used his big body to shield the puck from the Cyclones defenceman and managed to cut inside and put a backhander past Pesendorfer.
In the second period the teams traded goals as Listowel’s Kyle Ellis scored a powerplay goal at 4:28, and Nagy responded at 12:54 with another Elmira powerplay goal, assisted by Hasson and Lukas Baleshta to make it 4-2.
The Kings put any hopes of a comeback to bed with a dominating third in which they outshot Listowel 20-7 and scored twice more with the extra man.
Sonnenburg scored his second of the game just 32 seconds into the period from Hasson and Nagy when he one-timed a rebound off Pesendorfer’s left pad into the top of the net for a 5-2 lead, and after a powerplay goal for the Cyclones made it 5-3, Hasson scored the Kings fifth powerplay goal of the evening at 13:39 from Nagy and Smith for the 6-3 final.
The Kings have a new strategy while on the powerplay, opting to overload their first unit with five forwards – Nagy and Hasson on the points, and Sonnenburg, Baleshta and Smith down low. The change was made after DeSilva felt his younger defenceman were too reluctant to shoot the puck on the powerplay, and he feels the extra experience from those five forwards should help. “We did that earlier in the year and we thought that we would go back to that. It’s the experience factor and it’s giving some of our younger defenceman an opportunity to watch,” said DeSilva.
“We have a lot of experience up front and a lot of talented forwards so we have to take advantage of that and get them out there when we can.”
The game also featured the return of all star defenceman Craig Johnson to Elmira for the first time since he was traded to the Cyclones last week in return for Brett Catto.
“It was a tough decision to make because Craig had come a long way as a defenceman, and he’s going to be a very good defenceman in the league,” said DeSilva.
“We have an older team and a team that we feel can make a long run in the playoffs, and Brett brings that experience and that depth.”
Catto was selected by the Belleville Bulls in the 2008 OHL priority draft and at 19 years of age he still has one year of eligibility left in the league. The forward has collected an assist in both games he has suited up in for Elmira, and tallied 12 goals and 18 assists in 30 games with Listowel prior to the trade.
The Sugar Kings head to Guelph tonight (Saturday) for a matchup against the Hurricanes, before returning home for their second annual support the troops game on Sunday afternoon against Cambridge. The puck drops at 2 p.m.