Facing elimination Wednesday night, the Waterloo Siskins managed to keep their playoff hopes alive, beating the Sugar Kings 3-1. The second-round series, now 3-2 in Elmira’s favour, will be decided this weekend.
Having lost the opening game, the Kings peeled off three straight victories before Wednesday’s game –5-2 on March 14, 5-0 on March 16 and 6-3 on March 18. Still, head coach Jeff Flanagan wasn’t breaking out the champagne just yet.
“We always say, take ’til midnight to enjoy or think about the loss and then after that it’s all preparation for the next game. They worked really well tonight and they deserve to have a little bit of fun and feel good about the win,” he said of his players following the string of wins.
The team’s winning ways got rolling last Friday. Despite being outshot 31-25, the Kings played a strong road game. While it was close in the early going, by the third period it was all Elmira.
Waterloo opened the scoring on a power play at 6:28, but the next two went to Mitch Wright at 10:01 and 19:43 assisted both times by Adam Campagnolo and Brad Kobryn, putting the visitors up 2-1 going into the first intermission.
Waterloo scored the sole goal of the second frame at 6:53 signaling the last of the team’s luck as Elmira took lead in third period. Kobryn (Eric Palazzolo, David Savery) scored with a man advantage at 12:54, followed by Cash Seraphim (Zac Coulter, Mitch Klie) at 14:34 before Cass Frey (Savery, Brodie Whitehead) sealed the deal with an empty-netter at 14:34. It was the team’s first win against the Siskins all season.
Bolstered and at home on Sunday the Kings did it all over again, this time with a 5-0 shutout for Kings goalie Jonathan Reinhart.
“Reinhart played excellent. As far as [Siskins goalie Leo] Lazarev goes, he may have had an off night but we know that he’s difficult to score on, so we’ll keep working with our guys on techniques,” Flanagan said following the game.
Lazarev wasn’t the only one off his game that night, as for the first time the Siskins failed to capitalize on their power plays, going 0-8. All of Elmira’s goals came at even strength, as the home team went 0-3 with the man advantage. Waterloo had the edge in shots, 34-28.
All of the scoring came in the first and third periods. Whitehead (Seraphim, Coulter) potted the first goal at 6:51 followed at 7:12 in the first by Frey (Kohli, Palazzolo). In the third period Wright (Kobryn, Campagnolo) potted a goal at 5:27 and Campagnolo (Kobryn, Coulter) sank the puck at 16:57. The last goal came courtesy of Craig Johnson (Adam Brubacher, Palazzolo) at 17:52.
The power plays connected on the next meeting Tuesday night, as scoring was plentiful. It was all Kings in the early going, scoring four times before the home team got on the board. Frey (Savery, Kohli) got the opening period’s only goal at 8:22. Whitehead (Kobryn, Campagnolo) scored at 1:20 in the second period then Frey (Kobryn, Wright) sunk the puck again at 5:26 and Matt Harding (Reid Denstedt, Alex Mutton) scored at 17:12.
Waterloo got a second wind and scored its first goal right out of the gate at 0:45 in the third. Coulter (Whitehead, Justin Cooke) followed up at 1:02, and Frey earned his hat trick at 2:03 (assisted by Klie). Waterloo found the back of the net too little, too late, scoring the final goals at 13:18 and 19:12.
Special teams were more prominent this time out, with Waterloo notching two power play goals, while Elmira cashed one of its three chances. Both teams registered a shorthanded goal.
A win on March 19 would have sent the Kings to the finals, but it was not to be. After a 0-0 first period where Elmira outshot Waterloo 9-7, the Siskins came out flying in the second to run up a 3-0 lead with goals at 4:35, 4:56 and 16:31 before the Kings could reply. Savery (Frey, Campagnolo) found the back of the net once at 16:50 on the power play.
Penalties were abundant, with the Siskins enjoying eight power plays, cashing in on one opportunity.
Elmira will be looking to finish off the series in Waterloo Saturday night. Game seven, if necessary, will take place Sunday night at 7 p.m. at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.