The Elmira Sugar Kings tallied up two more losses over the weekend, both on home ice. A 4-2 loss to Stratford was followed the next day by dropping a 5-2 decision against Guelph.
Despite the numbers on the scoreboard Saturday, head coach Jeff Flanagan says the Stratford match was one of the best games the boys have played thus far.
“On Saturday, we thought, as a team, we played our best game as a group all season,” he said “The fact that we didn’t win even though we out chanced Stratford by a large margin, we just weren’t able to put it in the back of the net.”
The Cullitons’ Zach Van Louwe was the first to log a point on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal early in the first, but Elmira was quick to answer with a goal from Quinten Bruce, also unassisted.
The second period was uneventful until the second half, when the Kings took the lead on a goal from Zac Coulter, assisted by Ethan Skinner and Mackenzie MacSorley. Stratford answered back in a few short minutes of play with two goals in less than three minutes, coming from Josh Miller and Jack Scanlan and giving Stratford the lead.
The final goal of the game didn’t come until Elmira pulled goalie Liam Conway for an extra man in the last two minutes of play. Stratford’s Drew Gross solidified the Cullitons’ lead by dumping the puck into an empty net.
Sunday’s game against the Guelph Hurricanes went a similar route – lots of fire in the first and second periods, but a bit relaxed in the third.
Ty Biles, assisted by Alex Peterson, and Ryan Walsh started the first period on a high note with two unanswered goals in the first 10 minutes despite only five recorded shots on goal. Quickly, however, Cameron Stokes from the ‘Canes brought his team one goal closer with a little help from Brody Milne and Sebastian Stangherlin.The second period saw skilled back-and-forth play and one goal from Guelph’s Corson Searles. The Hurricanes consistently out-shot the Kings throughout the game, and Flanagan attributes the loss to injuries and mistakes.
“We played well for the first two periods, our goaltender played well and then (it was) just spending so much time in our own end,” he said. “A lot of guys there were playing a lot of minutes because we have so many injuries.”
The third period, the Kings slowed down, and allowed Guelph three goals fairly quickly. At 9:55 into the third, Stokes got his second goal of the game with passes from Milne and Liam Kendall. Just a minute and a half later, forward Stefano Pezzetta got the puck past Conway. The third goal was a repeat of Saturday’s game – Milne on the empty net.
Flanagan says the Kings have a couple of things to work on in practice this week before facing Brampton on Friday.
“Our back check wasn’t great which caused some pucks to get in and get chances off a rush and we also had some difficulty getting pucks out (of our end),” he said. “Those were the two main things, but it definitely stemmed from our back check. We had some times when they never should have entered the zone and that is the back checkers’ job, to be there and … to have a tight gap. The back checkers were in the area, but they weren’t engaging and they didn’t have great foot movement through the neutral zone either.”
The Sugar Kings are going into a home-and-home series this weekend, starting on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Brampton. On Sunday Nov. 1, the Bombers will be making their way to the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira at 7 p.m.