Tight game indicative of how the two teams, second and third in the standings, are evenly matched
What goes up must come down, and the Elmira Sugar Kings’ four-game winning streak came to a close last Sunday. The local boys took on the Waterloo Siskins for the first time this season, but even on home ice found themselves unable to land a single goal.
In fact, neither team could put the puck in the net until near the end of the game, when Waterloo’s Ryan Taylor finally scored at 15:45 in the third period. Adding insult to injury, Waterloo’s Connor Bodnar brought the score to 2-0 when he shot the puck into Elmira’s empty net with just 11 seconds to go.
Why couldn’t the Kings get a goal? “I think it’s because we didn’t get the puck high,” said head coach Jeff Flanagan. “We didn’t shoot many pucks higher than six inches off the ice.
“There were lots of rebounds – we had loads of opportunities. But in order to score against a guy like [goalie Leo] Lazarev, the puck has to go upstairs. We didn’t succeed in doing that.”
So far, Elmira and Waterloo are second and third in the Midwestern Conference division standings (their win-loss records are 11-3 and 10-4 respectively), behind only the Kitchener Dutchmen (13-3).
When asked if the two teams are evenly matched, Flanagan replied, “I think so. They work hard and fight hard.”
He added that Waterloo “puts bodies on the line to keep pucks from getting to the net. They have players like [forward Christian] Mroczkowski – he’s a very skilled player. I think it was a duel of blocked shots and goaltending today until the end.”
Despite the score, the Kings slightly outshot the Siskins, managing 33 shots on net to Waterloo’s 28. For this reason and others, Flanagan saw plenty to be proud of on the ice.
“We had a pretty good game,” said the coach. “We battled hard, and we had lots of chances. I think we forechecked really well; we handled the pressure in the offensive zone very well … and, it didn’t work.”
He added, “[Goalie] Hayden Neuman played very well – he was excellent in the net – and [forward] Brennon Pearce played really well. I thought we had a pretty good all-around game, other than the scoring.”
So, what’s the take-away?
“I asked the guys, ‘What could we have done differently?’ Of course they said, ‘Score.’ I said, ‘Well, how would you score?’ ‘Well, we didn’t shoot enough high pucks when we had a chance.”
In Listowel Friday night to face the Cyclones, the Kings return to the WMC Sunday evening to take on the Brampton Bombers. Game time is 7 p.m.