A home-and-home weekend against the Brampton Bombers led to back-to-back wins for the Elmira Sugar Kings. The boys in green set the tone for the weekend on November 15, beating their rivals 4-3 on the road, before posting a convincing 5-1 win on home ice November 17.
There are benefits to playing the same team back-to-back, said head coach Jeff Flanagan.
“You get to see what the team does, and you can make adjustments for the next game. Sometimes when you don’t play a team for a long span of time, they make a lot of changes, and then you have to relearn what they’re doing.”
He added, “I think it also benefits us by giving the guys a little more emotion coming into the game. A few rivalries start a couple of days before, and then you get to continue that.”
The Kings dominated the first period of the game November 15, with Cash Seraphim (assist: Zac Coulter) scoring the first goal in 42 seconds, and Austin Fischer (David Savery) following at the 15-minute mark.Brampton struck back with goals at 10:22 and 12:12 in the second period.
“One thing about Brampton is, next to us they’re the hardest-working team in the league if you go to sleep for even a few seconds,” said Flanagan. “It happened to us Friday night – we had a two-minute lapse, and they scored two goals.”Elmira bounced back later in the second period, with Adam Campagnolo (Savery) breaking the tie at 16:09, and Brad Kobryn (Campagnolo) scoring two minutes into the third. The Bombers pulled their goalies, and with an extra man on ice managed one last goal at 18:26, but it wasn’t enough to turn things around.
Elmira enjoyed an even stronger showing at the WMC last Sunday. In the first period, Steven Jakiela and Mitch Wright (Adam Brubacher, Craig Johnson) got Elmira on the board at 13:37 and 14:58 respectively. The Bombers scored what would become their only goal at 17:42 in the second period, but the Kings rebounded in the third: goals by Jakiela (Justin Cooke, Matt Harding) at 6:44, and Brubacher at 3:37 and 12:19 pushed the score to 5-1.
In recent weeks, Flanagan has expressed concern that his players were “holding their sticks too tight.” He believes that strategic practices led to improvements in last weekend’s games.
“We keep it light,” said Flanagan. “Wednesday night the guys came in and played wrong-way-stick – hockey where lefties were shooting with right-handed sticks, just to get them not thinking so much about scoring.”
When asked if he had any objectives for upcoming games, Flanagan said, “We always tell our guys to take it one day at a time, as long as they’re bringing 100 per cent effort. If we’re coming into a game: ‘Here are the things we need to focus on as a team to be successful, and don’t worry about tomorrow. Today is what’s going on.’”
The Kings currently rank second in the division with a record of 17-4-2, the 36 points trail just the Kitchener Dutchmen with 40.
On the road in Stratford Friday night to take on the Cullitons, the Kings have a bit of a break before their next action December 1 when they face the Guelph Hurricanes at the WMC.