The Elmira Sugar Kings continued their mastery of the Stratford Cullitons November 22, posting a 2-0 shutout win on the road.
Netminder Hayden Neuman paced the team, stopping all 35 shots he faced.
Special teams were also a factor, as Elmira scored on the power play and killed off all nine shorthanded sequences in a penalty-filled match that saw three game misconducts, including those dished out to Kings Justin Cooke and Austin Fischer.
The victory was the third of the season versus the Cullitons, the Kings having posted 9-3 and 2-1 wins on September 22 and September 27 respectively.
The rivalry between the two teams has become somewhat legendary, said coach Jeff Flanagan. It’s a relationship that has never failed to bring fans from both sides out to the arena.
“It was a very good game, an exciting game. It was certainly a goaltending battle. We got lucky: we got a power play goal. It was a hard-fought battle and it could have gone either way,” he said this week.
It was indeed a tight match last Friday, which helped explain the rough action. Both teams were held scoreless through two periods before Brennon Pearce got the visitors on the board with a power play marker assisted by Craig Johnson and Adam Brubacher at 4:23 of the third.
Jaden Goetz, assisted by and David Savery, rounded out the scoring at 14:29, making it 2-0.
The first period saw a rather slow start, though the rough play started late in the frame. Stratford outshot Elmira 10-7. Things picked up in the second, with the teams trading 31 shots (15 for Elmira, 16 for Stratford) to no avail.
Shots for the night were 35-34 in favour of the home team, indicative of a close match.
The win put the Kings’ record at 18-4-2, their 38 points six back of conference-leading Kitchener and five points clear of third-place Waterloo.
After the game, the squad travelled to Ithaca, New York to meet the Cornell University hockey team, which includes former Sugar King Jake Weidner, who’s playing there on a scholarship.
“We took our players down to watch a Division 1 NCAA hockey game to give them the experience and show them what the next level is like … and then we practiced on Cornell’s ice Sunday morning. We got to watch them practice as well, so that was exciting for the guys. [The trip] really put it in perspective for our players as to how hard they have to work in order to get to that level,” Flanagan said.
On hiatus for the week following the Stratford game, the Elmira Sugar Kings are back on the ice Sunday night to face the Guelph Hurricanes. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.