After sweeping a home and home series against Stratford last weekend, the Elmira Sugar Kings extended their winning streak to 10.During the five-week stretch, the Kings have outscored their opponents 46-20. Going back even further, the team has won 12 of their last 13 games and haven’t lost in regulation since October 7.
With an 18-3-1 record, the Kings have the best winning percentage in the Midwestern Conference at .841 – second overall in the GOJHL – and sit just a point back of first-place Kitchener with two games in hand.
But with more than half the regular season remaining – and the playoffs after that – the squad won’t be resting on its laurels.
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“We’ve certainly played very well,” coach Jeff Flanagan said. “The first part of the winning streak was extremely good, we thought. Over the last three or four games we have dipped a little bit at times. We have played well, but maybe not as well as we would’ve liked to. And so we were lucky to get those wins.”
Last weekend, Flanagan added, the group was “lucky to scrape by with two wins,” against a hardworking Stratford club.
The first game took place on Friday evening at Stratford’s Allman Arena. The Kings narrowly edged the Cullitons 2-1.
“It was an excellent game,” Flanagan said. “It was extremely fast, probably the quickest game we have played all year against any team. The speed is amped up in Stratford because the ice surface is quite a lot smaller than at the other rinks we play in besides Listowel.”
Brendan Schneider opened the scoring at 9:48 into the first on a goal from Klayton Hoelscher and Sam Harris.
The Cullitons tied things up in the second, but Mitch Klie put it away in the final frame with a short handed marker at 4:58 (Mac Clutsam, Schneider).
“Jon Reinhart was excellent in net and we scored a shorthanded goal at an opportune time,” Flanagan said. “Right down to the last little bit it could have gone either way and Stratford was very good, so we were happy to come out of there with two points.”
Two nights later the Kings hosted the Cullies at the Dan Snyder Arena.
With four fights and numerous scrums and skirmishes, it was a wild game.
“I think any time two teams play back to back, whether it’s in our league, in minor hockey or professional hockey you get the same sort of reaction,” Flanagan said. “You play the first game and everybody is amped up to play and players do their jobs and get under each other’s skin. The competitive relationship builds and just like anyone else, players tend to carry a grudge if something happened the night before and they carry that into the next game. Things essentially pick up where they left off.”
Rookies Klayton Hoelscher and Connor Hall both dropped the mitts during a rowdy second period, while veterans Brodie Whitehead and Cash Seraphim got into scraps of their own in the third.
In total, the Kings received 52 penalty minutes on 21 infractions.
More importantly, they took the game 4-2.
“It was a wild game with regards to penalties and power plays and penalty kills,” Flanagan said.
Alex Mutton scored the first goal of the game, assisted by Jamie Huber and Adam Brubacher at 9:46 in the first period.
Rob Kohli added a power play goal in the second from Zac Coulter and Mitch Klie.
In the final period, things got silly, as the penalties racked up for the home side and they were forced to play down two men for significant stretches.
Steven Jakiela put the Kings up by three at the 4:32 mark (Huber), but the Cullies kept the pressure on.
Two Stratford power play goals made it a one goal game with seven minutes remaining, until Klie put things away with an empty netter.
“Our players responded incredibly well to having to play in that situation,” Flanagan said. “They were excellent on the penalty kill, Jon Reinhart was excellent, and it was a full team effort.”
The Kings will look to keep the streak alive with another home-and-home this weekend, this time against the Listowel Cyclones.
The first game went Friday evening at the Listowel Arena, followed by a rematch at the WMC Sunday at 7 p.m.