The Sugar Kings held the lead for the full 60 minutes against the Cambridge Winter Hawks at Sunday’s game, their last before the Christmas break.
It was a close one, ending with a score of 3-2, and head coach Ty Canal had praise for his charges, who outshot Cambridge 46-23.
“I definitely think we played well, he said. “We got off to a good start and we were able to score early, which is always a nice thing. We were putting the puck to the net. A couple more rebounds would have been nice, but the guys were looking to shoot, they were looking to score and I thought we were hitting the net a little bit better, which is always positive.”
Zac Coulter put the Kings on the board just 30 seconds into the first, with help from Ethan Skinner and Mackenzie MacSorley. He quickly doubled up, less than a minute later with a power play goal from MacSorley and Rob Kohli, while Cambridge’s Alex Mutton was in the box for two minutes on an unsportsmanlike conduct call.
Canal says with a couple of goals to fall back on, the boys got a bit complacent, but managed to bring back the energy.
“The hard part, when you score early, is to try to make sure the guys keep competing for the rest of the game,” he said. “There was a little bit there, where Cambridge took back some momentum and [put] pressure early in the first, but overall our guys were able to limit the scoring chances.”
The Kings held off the Winter Hawks until almost 16 minutes in, when Sean Ross, assisted by Owen Savory, put the puck to the back of the net on a power play. At the end of the first, the Kings were up by one.
The second period started off with a goal from Mitch Montgomery, helped in by Jeff Jordan, giving the Kings a two-goal lead. The rest of the second frame was packed with whistles. Kings defenseman Ryan Walsh got into it with Cambridge’s Matt Harding. Gloves and helmets were thrown off, and plenty of punches were thrown, getting both players sent off the ice for the remainder of game play. Elmira picked up two more penalties when MacSorley and Coulter were sent to the box for cross checking and hooking, respectively.
Canal says the guys need to be more aware of unnecessary penalties, and limit their opposition’s power play opportunities.
“The discipline part of the game is definitely something that we have been talking about,” he said. “Special teams is key. It is definitely something that can win you or lose you a game. The goals they scored on the power play ended up getting them back in the game, so it is definitely something we have got to watch and make sure our guys are aware of. [We need to] try and keep our five-on-five play a lot higher than special teams.”
Cambridge’s second power play goal came in the third, with Elmira d-man Kyle Soper in the box for tripping, scored by Rob Grant, from Robert Proner and Kyle Heitzner.
The game ended in the Kings’ favour, with Coulter standing out from the crowd, scoring two goals in the first two minutes.
“Coulter likes to score goals,” said Canal. “He puts pressure on himself to score as well. Anytime he is scoring, that is a good thing. He was able to get us on the board early, which was a bonus.”
The team is now on a 10-day break before getting back on the ice later this month, and Canal says they are all looking forward to some downtime.
“It is a heavy schedule. There is a lot of hockey,” he said. “The guys are away from home, and it is definitely a good time to kick back, rejuvenate, spend time with family and friends and clear your head before the rest of the way.”
They will have their next practice on Dec. 30, and they will be working on fixing small problems and moving forward as a team before facing Brantford at Gretzky Arena on Jan. 2.
“It is just making sure that we are getting ourselves into a position where we can compete and play consistent hockey. That is when we play well, when we can get that pressure and be able to sustain it. We are inching towards that,” said Canal. “It is just improving on what we have worked on this last little while – taking steps to getting 60 minutes of hockey and we’re working on the parts of our game that we want to improve. We have played well, it is just about taking it one step further now – improving on all aspects individually and as a team, pushing towards the playoffs.”
Puck drop against Brantford is at 7:30 p.m. The boys will be back on home ice against Guelph on Jan. 3 for a matinee game at 2 p.m.