After posting 5-1 victory in Cambridge, team puts up the same numbers in home-opener against BramptonAs it blared from the Dan Snyder Arena’s sound system whenever the Elmira Sugar Kings scored on Sunday afternoon, Thin Lizzy’s immortal declaration set the tone for the team’s home-opener: “The Boys are Back in Town.”
Following an up-and-down preseason that saw the embryonic team split six games, the finalized Kings lineup took a pair of 5-1 victories last weekend to start the official season on a strong note.
On the road for the season opener on September 7, the Kings thumped the Cambridge Winter Hawks, and enjoyed another strong win against the Brampton Bombers the next day at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.
“We’ve had a good weekend,” said head coach Jeff Flanagan after Sunday’s game. “All the guys have been playing a lot of minutes, so we haven’t had any one line logging more than another line. Everybody’s contributing, and being put in situations where they can be successful.”
He continued, “They’re battling hard, they’re supporting each other, and we’ve got points out of it. It’s a great way to start the season.”
Against the Winter Hawks, the Kings were unstoppable from the beginning, scoring three goals in the first period: Mitch Wright (assisted by Michael Wilkins and Adam Brubacher) scored at 7:24, followed by Patrick McKelvie at 14:36 and Steven Jakiela (Brett Parsons, McKelvie) at 14:50.
Their lead grew stronger in the second period, as Cass Frey (Austin Fischer, Matt Harding) landed a goal at 1:49 and Jakiela (Parsons, Craig Johnson) landed a point at 16:15. The Winter Hawks managed a goal of their own at 12:59 in the third period, but by then it was too late to overcome the Kings’ lead.
The stats were strikingly similar at Sunday’s game against the Brampton Bombers. Rob Kohli (Zac Coulter, Frey) scored the first goal at 3:30, followed by Adam Campagnolo (Fischer) at 18:48 and Wright (Fischer) at 19:05. In the second frame, Brennon Pearce (Wright) scored a fourth goal at 19:09. The Bombers scored their only goal at 9:37 in the third.
Near the end of the third period, a short but brutal fight briefly derailed the game, leaving player Mitch Wright with four separate penalties and a bloody nose. Flanagan suggested that such incidents are a reality of the game.
“It shows the players are sticking up for each other and aren’t afraid,” said Flanagan. “We’re not planning, as a team, to be doing that kind of thing all the time, and we don’t promote it. But sometimes it happens in hockey, and the guys did a good job on the ice, and kept their cool after the fact.”
As if adding insult to injury, the Kings scored their final goal of the evening within one minute of the fight, with Coulter (Pearce) sinking the puck at 18:43 to bring the score to 5-1.
Much of the Kings’ success last weekend can be attributed to the team’s preseason training, including the recruitment camp on August 20, and the six preseason games, which “give an opportunity to see who plays well together from a line perspective,” noted Flanagan.
“We had some players like Jaden Goetz who came to the camp and made our team – he wasn’t somebody who was highly touted coming in, and he proved he deserved an opportunity and a spot in our lineup.”
These early results are encouraging, but Flanagan believes there is plenty of room for improvement as the 2013-14 season continues.
“We worked hard, which is the first step. We’ve got lots we need to work on. There are lots of deficiencies we’ll take care of in practice,” said Flanagan.
“There are little things, like our defensive zone, we can be better, our forecheck can be better … pretty well all areas of our game.”
The Kings are in Listowel on Friday before returning home to face the Kitchener Dutchmen on Sunday at the WMC, where the puck drops at 7 p.m.