The Elmira Sugar Kings showed no mercy on home ice last Sunday as they demolished the Brampton Bombers 9-0, strengthening their position at the top of the Midwestern Conference.Head coach Jeff Flanagan said they may have been slow to score in the first period, but they were quick to defend and shut down odd-man rushes.
“One of our key points before the game was to make sure their top three players didn’t get on the score sheet,” Flanagan said. “We thought we did a really good job of that. Of course as the game went on we started to see some more offensive output.”
Steven Jakiela opened the scoring at 5:27 in the first, with an assist from Eric Palazzolo. Despite a slow scoring start, the Kings racked up the goals in the second. Ten minutes into the middle frame, Chad Herron scored his first as a King, helped by Rob Kohli and Adam Brubacher.
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It didn’t get any better for the Bombers, as less than a minute later Brendan Schneider (Ethan Skinner, Jakiela) buried the puck. Keeping it rolling, 30 seconds later Skinner snatched up a loose puck to make it 4-0 to end the second.
They kept the puck flying, with 57 shots on Bomber goalie Shane Dietl, to just 23 against King netminder Andrew Lefebvre. This marked Lefebvre’s first shutout since joining the Kings.
“We planned to play Andrew this coming weekend against Cambridge, and Jon Reinhart injured his finger in practice last week, so we decided he could have played but to put him in when he’s not 100 per cent isn’t a wise move for him or our team,” Flanagan said. “[Andrew] played really well. Early on he made some really nice saves to keep it rolling.”
Jakiela started the final period the same way as the first with his second goal of the night, helped by Mitch Wright and Kohli. The team’s leading scorer, Zac Coulter, notched two goals back to back to bring the score to 7-0. Assists came from Brubacher, Skinner, Wright and Mac Clutsam. Coulter is also fourth in the conference for goals scored this season, with 24.
The beating continued with a goal from Mitch Klie (Coulter, Cash Seraphim). And with less than a minute to go Kevin Gergely sped down the ice on a breakaway to net his first goal as a King.
With just 10 games left in the regular season the Kings will play the Cambridge Winter Hawks in a home-and-home series this weekend, travelling to Cambridge on Saturday and returning home on Sunday.
Flanagan says their track record against them this season has been decent, but they can always do better.
“It’s going to be a really tough weekend back to back with Cambridge and next weekend we’re back to back with Waterloo, so it’s something we’re really preparing for and preparing our guys, so hopefully we can continue to play well,” Flanagan said.
He said they do video with the players to show them how their opponents have been playing. They pre-scout the team, where one of the coaches or a scout will go to a game and learn their systems. They also do video of their own games to document what they do well.
“That’s really the main focus and it just comes down to who makes the least mistakes,” Flanagan said. “Everyday we’re always talking about it and talking about the positives we need to focus on to make that happen.”
The Kings and the Winter Hawks haven’t played each other since November 16 when Elmira won 2-1 in overtime. Cambridge sits sixth in the league.
All proceeds from the Sunday game will go to Woolwich’s Friends of Hockey organization, which helps children play minor hockey who couldn’t otherwise afford it. The charity game is in honour of minor sports booster and referee Richard Rank, who passed away after a heart attack last year.
“We have special jerseys so that’s pretty exciting and Keith Stewart has done a great job designing them,” Flanagan said. “The logo is very similar to the old logo when the Sugar Kings first started. They’ll be auctioning the jerseys off at the end of the game.”
The players will sport their sweaters in the front room where an auctioneer will sell them to the highest bidder. Rank’s wife and kids will be at the game to drop the puck.
“We hope that people will come out in droves to fill the arena on Sunday to support the function,” Flanagan said. “The more people the better and the more support we can get, the better it’s going to be for Elmira, and Woolwich and the surrounding community.”
The puck drops at the WMC at 2 p.m.