Despite a disappointing loss to LaSalle in the Sutherland Cup semi-finals, the Elmira Sugar Kings have plenty to be proud of with a 38-7-4 record in the 2014-15 season.When asked what the highlights were this year, head coach Jeff Flanagan said there were piles.
“From a team perspective, finishing first in the Midwestern Conference, finishing first in the GOJHL, winning the Cherrey Cup, getting to the Sutherland Cup semi-finals, the number of fans we were able to put on a good show for. Individually we had numerous players win awards at the league award banquet, during the year,” Flanagan said.
They rose to the top of their conference with eight points more than the second-place Kitchener Dutchmen. They swept the Brampton Bombers in the first round of playoffs for the Cherrey Cup. Next they faced the Waterloo Siskins, last season’s Cherrey Cup winners. Elmira swept that series too. They took on the Stratford Cullitons in the championship and were victorious after five games.
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“There certainly were a lot of positives,” Flanagan said.
Facing the wildcard LaSalle Vipers proved more of a challenge in the Sutherland Cup semi-finals, ultimately falling in game seven. While it’s disappointing for the players, last season’s team only made it to the second round of Cherrey Cup playoffs before losing to Waterloo.
“Next year we’re going to have a number of our players graduating and moving on to higher levels and that’s part of our job,” Flanagan said. “We won a lot of games, had lots of good development. It’s a very successful season. It will take a little while for everyone to get over the loss and reflect on the season.”
The coaching staff will take a couple weeks off and then start planning for what type of team they’ll be in the fall. That’ll be determined once it’s clear what kind of players they’ll have. Then they can start organizing their systems and get players set up with strengthening and conditioning schedules for the summer.
The graduating players include Steven Jakiela, Eric Palazzolo, Brodie Whitehead, Chad Herron, and Mitch Wright. It’s hard to say which eligible players will be back from year to year he said.
“In our league you never know,” Flanagan said. “There’s always a lot of turnover, as they move up or they graduate, or some may go to a different league and try it out.”
Nothing has been confirmed, but some players certainly have opportunities to pursue hockey elsewhere, as evidenced by numerous scouts hanging around the dressing room after games.
“There are a number of players who are weighing their options as far as NCAA goes,” Flanagan said. “We expect to have at least one playing in the OHL. Cash Seraphim is committed to Niagara University. This time of year you wait to see exactly where guys end up. There’s lots of options for them, it’s just a matter of where they choose to go.”