Kicking off a round of games against Brampton on Wednesday night, the Kings defused the Bombers with a 4-1 thrashing on home ice.
Brad Kobryn was a force to be reckoned with, factoring in all four Elmira goals. He scored the Kings’ first and fourth markers, assisting on the middle two.
Head coach Jeff Flanagan was liberal with the praise following the game-one victory.
“Hayden [Neuman, the goalie] played really well in net, and in the neutral zone we did a good job jumping on turnover pucks and creating offensive opportunities,” he said, extending his commendations to the team’s Brampton rivals.
“They came with a stronger forecheck than they normally do. Teams always bring something a little different to playoffs, and that’s something that’s certainly going to benefit them when they go back to Brampton. Brampton’s a small rink, and the way they played tonight, with high-intensity forecheck, is going to be intensified in a smaller area.”
The Kings came out guns a-blazin’ in the first period, outshooting the Bombers 16-3 and depositing two pucks in the net: Kobryn, assisted by Adam Brubacher and Adam Campagnolo, at 9:39, and Mitch Wright (Campagnolo, Kobryn) at 17:38.
In the second period, Brampton was able to gets its one and only tally at 10:53, but Stephen Jablonski (Kobryn, Campagnolo) struck back with a goal at 12:41, and Kobryn (Brubacher, David Savery) followed at 18:26.
Neither team managed to score in the third period, but Elmira consistently outshot the rivals, 47-23 by the end of the game. Still, Flanagan says the team shouldn’t rest on its laurels.
“I think for about 50 of the 60 minutes, we had a good intensity level,” he said.“They really changed the momentum in the first 10 minutes of the third period, and we really had to battle hard to even it up in terms of momentum. Towards the end, a few penalties were called and our guys did a good job of it.”
The Kings are the odds-on favourites – they finished second-place in the conference during the GOJHL’s 2013-14 season, while the Bombers were seventh. But Flanagan acknowledges that there are plenty of challenges ahead.
“The danger against Brampton is, their intensity level rarely drops. You can’t get comfortable, you can’t think, ‘Oh, we’ve got the game won,’ because they’re right down your throat right away.”
In Brampton on Friday, the Kings return home to continue the series at the WMC on Sunday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.