GM says it’s still too early to know what to fully expect from squad that split the preseason series
After six preseason games that brought mixed results, it’s full steam ahead for the Elmira Sugar Kings. The Junior B team has finalized its starting roster, with a mix of new blood and seasoned veterans hitting the ice this weekend for the first official games of the season.
The embryonic lineup played its final two preseason games on August 31, winning the first against the St. Thomas Stars (5-2) before losing to the St. Catharines Falcons (6-4). Previously, they had similar results facing the Kitchener Dutchmen and the Guelph Hurricanes, splitting a pair of games against both Midwestern Conference rivals.
General manager Paul Jennings hopes to refine the team’s technique as the year gets started.
“I think we’re just looking for a level of consistency from our players all year long,” said Jennings. “We were 3-3 in the preseason, so we just want to get a more consistent effort out of our group. That being said, we didn’t have our full team for the full six games. We got to look at some prospects for next year and solidify our final starting roster.”
When asked to evaluate the team’s progress, Jennings said the strengths and weaknesses are not yet in focus.
“It’s hard to tell,” he said. “We had players in and out of the lineup because of some injuries, and because we were looking at different prospects. But our goaltending was where we expected it to be, and our back-end we were really impressed with. Up front, we just need to be more consistent and get some more scoring depth.”
Of the lineup, Jennings was quick to praise several new recruits.
“We were looking for a certain type of player – a hard-working guy – and a guy like Jaden Goetz comes in, and he fought and won a spot on the hockey club. He pretty much outworked certain guys,” said Jennings.
“A lot of guys came in and impressed. Brett Parsons has been real good, Mike Wilkens has been real efficient on the back-end, and Austin Fischer we got back from the Oshawa Generals. Since he’s got back, he’s been really good.”
The first official game of the season will take place tonight (Saturday) in Cambridge, as the Kings will face the Winter Hawks. On Sunday, they’ll have their home opener at the Dan Snyder Arena, facing off against the Brampton Bombers in a 2 p.m. matinee. There will also be a tailgate party and barbecue prior to the game to ring in the new season.