It was neck-and-neck on the ice at Dan Snyder Arena on Sunday night when the Elmira Sugar Kings took on the Kitchener Dutchmen for the first time this season.
The Kings fought to the last second of the game, but ultimately lost just 27 seconds into overtime by a final score of 6-5.
Head coach Jeff Flanagan says that even though the scoreboard didn’t come out in their favour, the boys played a hard-fought game against the nearly undefeated team from the south.
“We did really well on some of our commitments we made,” he said. “We only had one odd-man rush against, which is something that Kitchener is very good at, so we made sure we did a good job there. We competed very well. I think it was a positive game for us.”
Neither team let up on the puck, fighting as hard as they could to get it to the net. The Sugar Kings scored quickly, putting two goals, one by Zac Coulter and the other by Jeff Jordan, on the board in the first 10 minutes of play. The Dutchmen responded with just a couple of minutes left in the period. The Kings outshot Kitchener 18-8 in the first.
Flanagan says that one goal was the one that tipped the scales on the ice, and it could have easily prevented.“The first goal was a gaff by the defenseman and the goalie, and Kitchener put it in the open net, so that one we would certainly want back, and that one would have been the difference in the game,” he said after Tuesday’s practice.
The second period saw two more goals from Kitchener, and Elmira went into the final 20 minutes of play down by a goal, 3-2
The final frame was full of goals and a stoppage in play for a Sugar Kings injury. The teams traded penalties and goals, and with just six minutes left in the third, forward Ryan Maksymyk took a hit to the head and game play stopped while emergency services were called to the rink.
“I think he has a bit of a concussion. The ambulance was certainly precautionary, but he hit his head pretty hard,” said Flanagan. “He went to the hospital and they said there was no damage that they could see or ascertain. He is going to be out for a little while, but just for how long, we aren’t sure yet.”
Once Maksymyk was off the ice and being treated by medical professionals, the game continued with Quinten Bruce putting the puck past the Dutchmen goaltender, tying it up 5-5. Kitchener finished the game in overtime with a goal from Taite Wirschke.
Despite the loss, Flanagan is already looking ahead to the next game against Stratford this weekend. At Tuesday’s practice, the Sugar Kings focused on technical skills and defense.
“Defensive zone was key (in practice) for sure,” he said. “As well as just skill stuff. We’ve got a lot of young players, we are focusing a lot on … shooting, shot selection, puck possession, puck protection and … a few system things as well.”
Last weekend’s loss put Elmira’s season record at 4-4-1-1, good for fifth in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Midwestern Conference.
The Kings are set to visit Stratford on Friday night at 7: 30 p.m. They will be back home on Sunday evening at the Woolwich Memorial Centre at 7 p.m. against Brampton.