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Another clean-sweep weekend for Kings

The Elmira Sugar Kings withstood a ferocious third-period comeback by the Guelph Hurricanes on Sunday night, emerging with a 5-4 win. Elmira was outscored by their visitors 4-2 in the final frame, but it wasn’t enough as the Kings collected their third win in three nights over the weekend, having previously defeated the Owen Sound Greys 6-4 on Feb. 17 and the Waterloo Siskins 7-3 the following night. Despite six points in three games, the Kings head coach was visibly upset with his team’s third period outing against Guelph.

“I thought we were very, very good for the first two periods, and I thought we were awful in the third,” said Dean DeSilva. “I attribute it to cocky teenagers who think they’re better than they are and it’s going to come back and haunt them if they’re not careful.”

OH SO CLOSE Brady Campbell puts a backhand shot just wide of the Guelph net during the second period of the Kings’ 5-4 win over the Hurricanes on Feb. 19. Campbell would atone for the miss in the third period, scoring his 25th of the season.

The team played a textbook perfect game through the first two periods, outshooting Guelph 47-17 and leading 3-0 heading into the third, but the wheels fell off quickly as Guelph scored just five seconds into the third and again 45 seconds later to make the score 3-2.

“We had a good first couple of periods, but in the start of the third we shut it off there for a bit and let them back in the game,” said defenceman Wade Pfeffer, who opened the scoring at 10:29 of the second period with his first goal of the year.

Playing 4-on-4, Pfeffer snuck down to the hash marks behind the Guelph defenders and received a cross-ice pass from Scott Nagy along the half-boards, which he directed into the wide open net past goaltender Colin Furlong.
Pfeffer lifted his head to the rafters and pumped both arms as a look of relief washed over him after finally scoring his first of the season. Last year he had nine goals and represented the Kings at the league’s All-Star game.
“Finally. It took a while,” he said smiling after the game.

The goals came in bunches afterwards, with Rob Bennett scoring at 15:40 by knocking a rebound out of mid-air while being taken to the ice by a Guelph defender. Will Cook and Cash Seraphim collected the assists.
A little more than two minutes later Andrew Smith scored his 41st of the season when he took a nice pass from Brett Priestap in the slot and snapped it past Furlong at 17:59. Brad Kraus had the other helper on the goal.
In the third Guelph showed they wouldn’t lie down to the defending Sutherland Cup champs and former King Nic MacEachern slapped a rolling puck over the shoulder of goaltender Nick Horrigan just five seconds in to make it 3-1, and Shane Kinsella made it 3-2 at the 50 second mark by shoveling the puck past Horrigan on the powerplay.

With the crowd of about 800 fans suddenly silenced, Brady Campbell restored the two-goal lead with his 25th of the season at 3:19 from Michael Hasson and Brodie Whitehead. Hasson’s initial shot from the blue line went over the net but bounced off the glass back into the crease, where Campbell knocked it into the empty net.

Smith tallied his second of the night at 14:31 from Kraus following some good Elmira pressure in the Guelph zone.

The Hurricanes looked to make it interesting with another powerplay goal at 15:09 to make it 5-3, and MacEachern scored his second of the night to make it 5-4, but with only 2.1 seconds left on the clock, it was too little, too late.

Horrigan finished with 25 saves for the win, and the third period goal by Smith was his league-leading 11th game-winner of the year. The win also pushed Elmira past Stratford for second in the Midwestern Conference standings with 79 points, two points behind Brantford for first. The Kings have spent the past week preparing for their weekend matchup on the road tonight (Saturday) against Brantford (39-7-3), and they return home Sunday to close out the season against Stratford (38-9-1).

“We’ll be playing one of them in the playoffs some time, hopefully, so we have to be prepared for that and you always want to go into the playoffs on a positive and doing the right things,” said DeSilva.

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