It was a blowout at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Sunday night when the Sugar Kings hosted the Listowel Cyclones in their second matchup of the season. The visitors were manhandled, falling 8-1 to the Elmira squad.
The Kings kept the pressure on all game, not letting up until the buzzer sounded.
Less than 10 minutes into the first period, Alex Peterson scored his first goal in green and gold, taking advantage of an early power play and putting the Kings on the board.
Elmira forward Ethan Skinner dominated the second period, scoring fast and early with a set-up from linemate Zac Coulter. Ten minutes later, Skinner put another puck to the back of the net with the help of D-man Ryan Walsh. When the horn went at the end of the second, Listowel had yet to respond.
In the third, Listowel earned themselves five penalties, putting Elmira on the power play for half the period. The Kings weren’t without their infractions, however, with head coach Jeff Flanagan getting called for having too many men on the ice at 6:41 into the third. Eight minutes in, Brady Anderson and the ‘Clones took advantage of the power play, logging the team’s first and only goal of the game with a little help from teammates Keaton Willis and Tim Nauta.
From there, Elmira stayed on the offensive. Coulter, scoring off forward Rob Kohli and Skinner, restored the three-goal lead with five minutes left in the game. Just a few minutes later, the Kings had a 5-on-3 advantage, allowing Kohli to easily direct the puck to the back of the net, making the score 5-1. Some fans got up to leave the arena, probably thinking the game was done for Listowel, but Elmira wasn’t finished.
The Kings’ director of hockey operations, Jeff Snyder, says the last five minutes of play were intense and, judging by the scoreboard, fruitful.
“We scored five in the last minutes,” he said. “It was a weird finish, but we were happy.”
Coulter scored himself a hat trick at the Sunday night game, scoring two more power play goals before the clock ran out. The first, while Listowel’s Corey Flemington was in the penalty box for high sticking. The second was straight off the faceoff and nicely delivered to the top shelf of the ‘Clones net with under a minute left in regulation play.
Snyder says players have spent plenty of time working on their power plays in practice, and it showed on Sunday night.
“We have worked a lot on the power play in practice and you can really see that paying off for us,” he said after Sunday’s game. “Trent Brown runs the power play and I think he has done a really good job of preparing our players for what they might see from the other team and just different things we can try and execute. Our power play is really good and consistent and it was really good on Sunday night. It was nice to see.”
With 11 seconds to go, Listowel’s Jamie Huber was called on a high sticking double minor, landing him four minutes in the box. The Sugar Kings were already up by six, but Ryan Walsh wasn’t finished and got the puck past Cyclones goalie Wyatt Nicholson one last time with eight seconds left, ending the game with a final score of 8-1.
There wasn’t a single player that stood out for the director of hockey operations at Sunday night’s matchup, but rather, an entire line.
“(Coulter) is obviously a key guy for us and he has been getting great chances the last few games and they haven’t been going in, so it was nice to see some goals going in for him,” said Snyder. “That whole line was really good – him and Ethan Skinner and Rob Kohli. They have really been carrying the ball for us and we need them to since we have so few returnees back. It is nice to see those guys really stepping up.”
After nearly a week off, the Kings will be visiting the Cambridge Winter Hawks on Oct. 10 and Snyder says the team strategy is to get every skater playing the same game with the same goal.
“I know [Flanagan] is looking hard to get our systems in place and I think just continuing to do that,” he said. “It is still early in the year and we have a lot of new guys, we are just trying to get everyone to gel and get everyone on the same page is something that we will continue to work on.”