Need for consistent effort on display as Elmira splits a pair in shootouts with Brampton, KitchenerJust as a good start doesn’t always spell victory, a poor one doesn’t mean a loss, as the Sugar Kings discovered last weekend.
The team let the Bombers come from behind for a 7-6 shootout win in Brampton January 17, then put on a comeback show of their own two nights later at home against the Kitchener Dutchmen, winning 4-3, again in a shootout.
The team showed jump at times, but it’s not the kind of consistent effort the head coach wants to see with the GOJHL playoffs on the horizon.
“You always have these types of ebbs and flows with a hockey team, but championship teams are able to play 60 minutes or into overtime at the same intensity level. We hope that when we go through this now we learn how to deal with those situations and when we are not as intense, we can recognize it,” said Jeff Flanagan after Sunday’s home game.
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“Taking their foot off the pedal” after an easy start in the first two periods on Friday, the Kings fell to the Bombers courtesy of two unanswered goals in the third that tied the game, with the finishing blow coming after the overtime frame settled nothing, forcing the shootout.
Shaking it off Sunday, the Kings won back some pride against the top team in the league in another shootout. Down 3-0 in the third, the Kings put on a late surge to force extra time before capping the comeback.
“The guys seemed to find the urgency and some composure in the third and the power plays. They did a great job on the power plays and just kept working and being confident,” said Flanagan.
In Brampton, the home got on the board first, scoring at 18:49 of the opening frame. With a pair of quick goals before the buzzer, it was all Kings at that point. Zac Coulter, assisted by Eric Palqazzolo and Mitch Klie, was up at 19:27 and Adam Campagnolo (Brad Kobryn, Brodie Whitehead) squeezed one in at 19:58. In the second period David Savery (Kobryn) continued with one at 0:34 followed by Campagnolo (Brett Parsons) at 5:04. That’s when things got messy as the Bombers began to fight back and the Kings faded.
“Friday, we did not play very well, came all down to our effort. We scored a lot of goals which is a positive but at the other end of the rink we lost battles we weren’t boxing out in front of the net and gave them more opportunities to score than we should have,” Flanagan said.
Brampton started to encroach on the score board first at 8:33 then 12:18 but Cass Frey (Adam Brubacher, Kobryn) scored again at 13:39. Brampton found an in again at 14:35 and though Elmira’s Cash Seraphim (Steven Jakiela) countered at 15:23 for a two-point lead, it was all for naught as the Bombers came back to tie the game in the third courtesy of goals at 4:02 and 10:46. They won in the shootout.
Stepping up on Sunday, and showing only some of the previous game’s hesitation, the Kings fared better against the Dutchmen with 12 solid shots on net while goalie Hayden Neuman blocked 14 shots in the first period.
Blood was spilled at 6:35 in the second period when a fight between Alex Mutton and the Dutchmen’s Scott Pedersen got both players ejected. Though Elmira dominated in shots, 17-13, Kitchener took the lead with the game’s first goals at 16:01. The Dutchmen found the back of the net twice more in the third, but that’s when the Kings seemed to say enough is enough. Craig Johnson (Seraphim, Kobryn) fought back at 11:35 and Jakiela (Campagnolo, Savery) followed suit at 13:17. Seraphim (Kobryn, Campagnolo) tied the game at 18:15 and opened the door for a shootout victory.
“We were able to get to a shoot out and we haven’t won many shootouts this year so that’s a good feeling,” Flanagan said.
The Kings (27-6-4) are in Guelph Saturday night, returning to Elmira Sunday to take on the Cambridge Winter Hawks. Game time is 7 p.m.