Team rebounds from poor play in loss to Cambridge Winter Hawks with solid win over Guelph HurricanesAs the old saying goes, “You win some, you lose some,” and the Elmira Sugar Kings had plenty of both last weekend. A downbeat tone was set on January 11 when the Cambridge Winter Hawks buried the Kings 5-1, but the Elmira boys rebounded the next day with a 7-1 pasting of the Guelph Hurricanes.
“One hundred per cent different,” said head coach Jeff Flanagan of the games. On Saturday, “Our effort level was very low. All over the ice – offensive zone, neutral zone, d-zone, battles, taking pucks to the net. When we had the opportunity to score, the effort wasn’t there, which led to the score not going in our favour.”
Alex Mutton, assisted by Adam Capagnolo and Brodie Whitehead, scored Elmira’s only goal of the night, at 19:41 of the first period. Otherwise, Cambridge dominated, with two goals in the first period, one in the second, and two more in the third.
“I think a lot of it was preparation,” said Flanagan. “We had played a not-great game last Sunday [January 5] against Stratford, and I think we thought that was an anomaly – we’d have a good week of practice and come in just fine without doing the work.”
By contrast, the Kings were strong out of the gate against the Guelph Hurricanes, with three goals in the first period – Cash Seraphim (Zac Coulter, Craig Johnson) at 14:15; Brett Parsons at 15:48; and new player Eric Palazzo (Mitch Klie, Coulter) at 17:15.
Guelph scored at 19:35 to wrap up the first period, but Elmira dominated the second with four more goals: Justin Cooke (Rob Kohli, Cass Frey) at 2:49; Brad Kobryn at 10:25 and 16:45; and Adam Campagnolo (Kobryn, Mitch Wright) at 19:54.
“The difference was, our effort all over the ice was excellent,” said Flanagan. “Our commitment to the little things – supporting players, blocking pucks – shows the difference in effort level, which changes the scoreboard.”
Despite the lopsided score, the Hurricanes never let up. While Elmira outshot the rivals 15-8 and 18-8 in the first two periods, Guelph flipped it 11-7 in the third, in which nine of the Kings went to the penalty box. While the Hurricanes couldn’t translate their effort into goals, they did earn respect from Flanagan.
“They’re very young – I don’t think they have a 20-year-old on their team – so they work hard right to the end. They’re gritty, they try to get under your skin. … As the year goes on, they’re getting better and better.”
Excessive penalties, which have plagued the Kings in the past, continue to be an area of concern for Flanagan, but he notes that progress has been made.
“The last five or six games we’ve done a good job of getting penalties down. Tonight, I think our emotions ran high. Guelph did a good job getting under our skin and trying to get our ire up. It’s a constant battle for us.
“We’ve got our thumb on the guys about taking penalties, and now we’ve got two extra players [forward Eric Palazzo and defenseman Steve Jaldouski], so there’s always the threat of: if you take bad penalties and you take them consistently, you’re going to find yourself out of the lineup.”
The Kings are in Brampton Friday before returning to the WMC on Sunday afternoon to face the Kitchener Dutchmen, the first-place team in the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference. The game starts at 2 p.m.