With a pair of dominant performances last weekend, the Elmira Sugar Kings extended their winning streak to four.On October 31 the Kings crushed the Hurricanes 5-0 in Guelph and they kept rolling at home last Sunday with a 9-2 drubbing of the Brantford 99ers.
“We have played well over the last four games,” Kings head coach Jeff Flanagan said. “Against Guelph, Jon Reinhart got a shut out, so that was excellent and we played a really complete game both from an offensive and defensive standpoint.”
It was all Kings from the start against Guelph, with a pair of first period goals by Alex Mutton (Mac Clutsam, Jamie Huber) and Zac Coulter (Mitch Klie, Clutsam). In the second, Ethan Skinner (Eric Palazzolo, Huber) and Rob Kohli (Brodie Whitehead, Mitch Wright) added power play markers.
Coulter (Adam Brubacher, Klie) potted another early in the third frame to ice it.
Like many blow-outs, it was a chippy contest that included a fight between King’s winger Cash Seraphim and Hurricane Dylan Sayle. But Flanagan was impressed with his team’s composure.
“Our discipline was very good,” he said. “We might have been in the box a lot (25 penalty minutes), but the way the game was going, our guys did a good job of keeping cool heads.”
Two nights later, the scoring touch remained for Elmira.
“The guys played really well,” Flanagan said. “We were impressed with our young players. There were goals from (Wellesley’s) Brendan Schneider, (West Montrose’s) Klayton Hoelscher and Connor Hall; it was nice to see those guys score some really nice goals.”
Adam Brubacher opened the scoring with a shot from the point, assisted by Huber and Palazzolo. Hall made it 2-0 with his first as a King with a wrist shot from the slot from Mutton and Coulter.
After backup netminder Andrew Lefebrve surrendered one late in the frame, the guys picked him up with two of their own in the second, (Klie from Coulter and Wright; Palazzolo from Huber and Skinner).
And the floodgates opened in the final period as Clutsam (Wright, Brubacher), Coulter (Hall, Kohli), Wright (Kohli, Schneider), Schneider (Hoelscher, Clutsam) and Hoelscher (Scheider, Seguin) all found the back of the net.
Down two stalwarts in Whitehead (injury, Flanagan says he is “day-to-day”) and Seraphim (suspension for a fight against Guelph), the Kings needed the younger group to step up.
And they did.
“I think all of our young players are going to be impact players,” Flanagan said, of a talented group that includes ’97 birth players Mitch Montgomery, Skinner, Huber, Hoelscher and ’98-born Schneider and Hall. “They are already making an impact and I think all of them have really bright futures.”
The organization values good all-around people, he added, and this group of rookies is no exception.
“They are all really good kids; very committed to doing the right things like training, practicing, taking instruction and they work hard in school.”
The coaching staff isn’t putting pressure on the young guys to put up big numbers he said, but they have used guys like Hoelscher and Schneider in important defensive roles already, including in match ups against the opponents’ top lines.
They haven’t needed a lot of secondary scoring yet, either.
Since Flanagan shuffled the lines and put Klie with Coulter and Wright, there has been an offensive explosion.
“They have been excellent,” Flanagan said. “Zac Coulter is on fire.”
Originally paired with Palazzolo and Seraphim, Flanagan decided to move Klie with his new line mates to try to get a bit more balance through the lineup.
“One of the reasons is we felt that Seraphim and Palazzolo are very good players and would be able to generate opportunities with Ethan Skinner and they can help him along and still get a whole pile of points and that has worked out as well.”
The Kings remain in second place (with three games in hand) in the Midwestern Conference at 12-3-1. They travel to Cambridge to take on the Winter Hawks Saturday and host the Hurricanes Sunday at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.