Maybe they should play in pink all the time. The special sweaters proved lucky for the Elmira Sugar Kings last Sunday, as they broke out of a slump with a 5-2 win against the Brampton Bombers. Back in their regular uniforms Tuesday, however, the Kings dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Kitchener.
The win was encouraging, but Tuesday night’s outcome shows the team has some work to do in advance of the playoffs.“It was our first win in a long time, I was really pleased with their effort and I thought that a lot of our players stepped up,” head coach Dean DeSilva said of Sunday’s game.
In that match, the Kings were strong out of the gate with Jake Weidner (assisted by Mitch Wright and Brandon Stewart) potting one at 4:41. It was quite a while before Bombers were able to even things up but at 19:12 they did just that, setting up a seesaw battle in the early goings of the second.
Back on the ice after the break it was Adam Dauda getting another for the Kings at 8:02 before Brampton countered at 11:49. After that it was all Kings, as Cash Seraphim (Weidner, Wright) put the team ahead for good with a goal at 14:43. Zac Coulter, also assisted by Weidner and Wright, made it a two-point lead at 17:15.
Despite being a game to benefit anti-bullying campaigns, it proved to be a bloody match as several Bombers had to be assisted off the ice and the teams split 72 penalty minutes and 32 offences. The boys in pink accumulated 37 minutes in the sin bin. The Kings also played through having three players – Patrick McKelvie, Steven Jakiela and Connor MacIvor – booted out of the game.
The third period saw more back-and-forth action as the Kings battled to keep their lead and the Bombers fought to score. Weidner and Wright fed the puck to Coulter fat 16:34 for the period’s only goal, allowing the team to skate away with the 5-2 win.
Back on the ice in Kitchener on Tuesday, the Kings took on the Dutchmen for fifth spot in the Midwestern Conference standings.
It was Elmira’s rivals who got things going first, scoring their first goal at 5:47 and keeping the Kings at bay for the remainder of the opening period. The Kings had better luck in the second when Weidner, fed by Johnson, got the visitors on the board at 5:18 for the lone goal of the period. Elmira netminder Hayden Neuman turned aside all nine shots in the period (30 of 33 on the night).
The Kings seemed to be the more determined of the two teams on the ice, consistently outshooting the Dutchmen, 15-10 in first, 13-9 in second and 14-12 in third, but the stats just didn’t match up with the end game results.
“I cannot knock our efforts or our execution as a team over the entire game,” DeSilva said. “Sometimes the hockey gods just don’t smile down on you.”
Tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, the teams would trade goals in the third. Elmira’s Zac Coulter (Stewart) put the visitors ahead at 13:53 before the Dutchmen tied the game at 16:47, sending the teams into overtime. Kitchener ended it at 3:41.
The result left the Kings with a record of 24-18-5, their 53 points just one back of Kitchener.
Slumping due to a long list of injuries, the Kings are now starting to see some of their players return to the roster. Matt Schieck was back on the ice last Sunday while Craig Johnson rejoined his teammates on Tuesday. The remaining absentees should be back either this week or next, just in time for the end of the regular season and start of the playoffs.
The Kings have four games remaining. The team is in Stratford Friday before returning to the WMC Sunday night to take on Listowel. Game time is 7 p.m.
The season wraps up with games in Cambridge February 23 and at home against Kitchener the following night.