Adding two wins to their record last weekend, the Elmira Sugar Kings started the new year on the right foot.
A 7-5 win over the Brantford 99ers on Saturday, followed by a 2-1 overtime defeat of the Guelph Hurricanes leaves the Kings in the middle of the pack for the Midwestern Conference.
Their 15-14-1-4 record means they’re just five points behind Listowel, but also just five points ahead of Brampton.
“I thought we played pretty well for the first game back from break,” said head coach Ty Canal. “I think the time away helped our guys recoup and settle down and refresh the mind. Guys came out really playing: they were focused and they were skating well. It was good to see.”
In Brantford on Jan. 2, the Kings were led by Mackenzie MacSorley, who netted a hat trick. Jake Moggy opened the scoring for the Kings on a power play in the first period, helped by Alex Peterson and Jeff Jordan.
MacSorley found the back of Brantford’s net for his first of three at 6:44 in the second. Helpers were Zac Coulter and Ethan Skinner. The 99ers scored again to move ahead of the Kings, after Nick Visser (Jay Dekker) put it past Kings goalie Liam Devine.
Elmira put the beating on after that, knocking back three goals in less than a minute and a half. Goal scorers were Ty Biles, Skinner, and MacSorley, assisted by Moggy, Jordan, Ryley Cribbin, and Coulter (2).
Brantford’s Matt Scanlin (Visser, Guy Polillo) and Elmira’s MacSorley (Coulter, Skinner) added one more apiece to finish the second frame.
Christian Polillo earned a hat trick with his third goal of the night in the final period, assisted by Kyle Walker and Bryce O’Brien. But it wasn’t enough as the Sugar Kings secured their win with a shorthanded goal from Jordan (Cribbin).
“Fortunately we were able to put in the puck more than they were able to and it worked out there. The goals just seemed to bounce in the right way. Those games happen. It was nice we came out on the right end of it anyways,” Canal said.
On home ice on Sunday there was much less scoring than the night before.
Elmira’s Ryan Maksymyk (Kyle Soper) scored in the first half of the first period to give them the advantage. Late in the second, Hurricane Stefano Pezzetta (Jake Wyse, Brody Milne) finally got his team on the board.
In overtime, the Kings were saved by a power play goal from Coulter to secure the overtime win. He was assisted by Kalob Witzell and Quinten Bruce.
“It was one of those you sort of could feel one bounce was going to change it. The big thing for us was making sure that we just stayed to our game plan and skated and did with what we could do through the game, and just chip away little by little. We were fortunate again to come out on top there. It was one of those that could have definitely gone either way,” Canal said.
They’ve got two months left of regular season play to inch up the standings to secure a better playoff spot. He says having home ice for game one and game seven is always a bonus because it helps the players stay calm by playing in their comfort zone.
“At this point we can’t control that. We can’t control how the teams ahead of us or below us are playing. So we’ve got to make sure that how we play is satisfactory and the rest will take care of itself,” Canal said.
In preparation for this weekend’s games they’re getting back to basics, preparing on the defensive side of the puck, and practicing limiting shots from the opposing team.
They’ve now won four games in a row.
“They’re playing well with one another. They’re starting to believe in what we can do and how we can play,” Canal said.
The Kings have a home-and-home this weekend, facing the Waterloo Siskins at the WMC on Saturday at 7 p.m., before heading down to Waterloo the next day for a 1:30 p.m. match. They’ve also got their hungryman’s breakfast on Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elmira Legion.