With just six games left before Christmas, the Elmira Sugar Kings added two more wins to their record, beating Cambridge and Brantford over the weekend.
In Cambridge on Saturday, the Kings scored early in the first period as David Elford got his second goal as a King. Alex Peterson provided the assist. Elford was recently acquired by Elmira from their affiliate, the Wellesley Applejacks.
Both teams were feeling feisty, as referees had to give out four penalties and two game misconducts when a fight broke out at 12:13 in the first frame. Cambridge’s Scott Del Zotto and Elmira’s Colton Culbert were ejected from the game.
A power play marker from Cambridge’s Beau Goehrum, helped by Rob Grant and Kyle Heitzner, evened the playing field in the second period. The Winter Hawks continued to get into penalty trouble, spending 21 minutes in the box by the end of 40 minutes.
Elmira netminder Liam Devine didn’t let anything past him as Harlen VanWynsberghe gave the Kings the lead at 6:50 in the third, with assists from Zac Coulter and Ethan Skinner.
And as Cambridge pulled their goalie late in the game, Mackenzie MacSorley (Skinner, Ryan Walsh) scored on the empty net to win the game 3-1.
Head coach Ty Canal was pleased with how they skated that game.
“I thought we kept the momentum when we needed to. The way that things have been going, one line has been running off another, which is what you definitely want, game in and game out. There were some minutes here and there where we were on our heels but we were able to turn that around and keep that flow going for us,” Canal said.
Despite Cambridge spending a whopping 53 minutes in the box, Elmira didn’t score on a single power play opportunity. Former Sugar King Alex Mutton, who’s playing for the Winter Hawks this season, received three penalties. Mutton played two seasons for Elmira and was traded to the Winter Hawks by the Kings in exchange for Jake Moggy back in August.
“Special teams was big that game. There were a lot of penalties both ways. Power play we had a lot of chances, no goals unfortunately. It’s nice to see our guys able to step up and get that one. It was definitely one we needed,” Canal said.
On home ice on Sunday, the Kings had to battle back from a 4-4 tie to take the win in overtime.
The Brantford 99ers got on the board early when Isaac Nurse was awarded a penalty shot, which he put past Devine.
No one was able to score in regular game play until 19:58 when Elmira’s Kyle Soper gave the Kings a much needed tie to head into the second. Elford and Walsh assisted.
The Kings took a 3-1 lead in the second after two quick goals by Coulter at 8:03 and 9:39. MacSorley, Walsh, Rob Kohli, and Skinner were the helpers.
But they couldn’t hold their lead for long as 99ers Kyle Walker and Jay Dekker, both assisted by Matthew Woods, buried the puck past Devine to lock the game at 3s.
“I think going into Sunday we were trying to get 60 minutes of play, especially at home because we haven’t done that a lot this year. We’re getting there. Obviously we let them back in, in that second period. Overtime was obviously the result we wanted,” Canal said.Skinner launched the puck past 99er goalie Will Rawski three minutes into the third, but 10 minutes later Walker (Guy Polillo, Sheehan Kirkwood) tied it up again.
In overtime, MacSorley (Skinner) found the back of the net, giving Elmira its first overtime win this season.
“After you win one you think back on the other overtime losses and you try to pick it apart. The other games we had chances too we just weren’t able to bury it in those games. We were fortunate enough that we were able to bury it and hit the net on the shot that we had, finally,” Canal said with a laugh.
He notes the goals scored on them were on odd man rushes, which they need to limit because good teams will always take advantage. Kyle Soper stood out for him this weekend as in both games Soper started on the forward line, but had to switch to defense.
“Your mindset’s on one thing and then you have to flip and play a totally different position. Any time a guy’s got to do that is good on him for being able to help us out,” Canal said.
While rising up the standings is always on every team’s mind, Canal says their goal right now is to ensure they’re playing a full 60 minutes every game.
“What we’ve been trying to stress is we’re playing the way we want to play and not really worrying about who we’re playing, trying to make sure we limit the scoring chances the other team has with odd man rushes and momentum. We’re confident in the group we have and it’s just a matter of making sure we’re playing the way we want to and the guys want to as well,” Canal said.
Elmira is fifth in the league of nine teams with a 9-12-1 record. They head down the 85 to Waterloo on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Siskins. They’ll return to Elmira on Sunday for a 7 p.m. puck drop versus the Listowel Cyclones. You can also catch the Kings in the Elmira Santa Claus Parade on Saturday.