The Sugar Kings dropped two in a row this weekend in a home-and-home series against the Waterloo Siskins.
The Kings are ranked two spots ahead of the Siskins in league standings, and head coach Ty Canal chalked the weekend’s losses up to sloppy play.
“We just didn’t execute the way we needed to throughout the games,” he said of Saturday and Sunday’s losses, 4-3 and 3-2 respectively. “There were some stints where we were playing some pretty good hockey, and then we just sort of, for whatever reason, let up and let Waterloo take the momentum and play the pace they wanted to play. We weren’t able to match it as quickly as we wanted to and it came out on the wrong side for us.”
Saturday’s game was played on home ice for the Kings, and went into double overtime, ending with a goal from Siskins’ forward Nate Schnarr getting the puck past Elmira netminder Liam Devine, with an assist from Nick Hirst. The game was tied at one goal apiece at the end of the first, with Elmira taking the lead heading into the third.
In the final 20 minutes of play, Waterloo scored twice, the first from Owen Kipke on the power play (Conner Jean and Schnarr) and just a couple minutes later from Gary Mantz (Joshua Slegers and Nate Schnarr). It looked like the Siskins were going to take the win in regular time before Kings’ forward Jeff Jordan, with a little help from team captain Rob Kohli and new defenseman Kalob Witzell, scored with just 16 seconds left, forcing overtime.
“The big thing is that we just weren’t doing what we needed to do from puck possession to turnovers. All those little things in the game of hockey that we need to win,” said Canal. “It is about getting the puck first and winning those close battles – the simple things. There were some times that we were playing good hockey, but the number of turnovers we had was uncharacteristic for us in the last little while. It was a bit of a roller coaster.”
Sunday’s game, played in Waterloo, ended in regular time, but gave goalie Devine a run for his money, stopping 45 pucks in 48 shots. The Siskins were up by two at the end of the first, but the Kings just couldn’t get ahead.
Elmira’s David Elford scored the lone goal in the second period, from Mitch Hoelscher and Beau Goehrum. Halfway through the third, Jordan tied it up on the power play with Waterloo’s Matt Bourbeau in the box for tripping. Siskins’ forward Gary Mantz helped Waterloo pull ahead with less than two minutes left in regulation time.
Both games had very few whistles, with plenty of five-on-five play, which Canal says is the team’s bread and butter.
“The more five-on-five hockey we can play, the better. We can play some pretty consistent hockey, especially when we are able to get the lines rolling and get momentum,” he said, adding that although there wasn’t much penalty kill or power play this weekend, it was still a tough weekend. “It was just one of those weekends. As much as you want to dwell on it, now the players can see the difference in how we can play. This weekend, we saw what can happen when we don’t play how we want. We weren’t on our game and those types of results are going to happen.”
Canal says the team is now going to go back to working on the basics, bringing everything up to snuff before their next game against Brampton on Friday night.
“After coming out of the weekend, it is going to be about playing consistent hockey and tightening things up a bit,” he said. “All the stuff I’m sure they don’t like practicing. We need to start in all three zones, making sure everyone is on the same page again and just get back to the simple basics and fine tuning the d-zone. The more time you can play on the offensive, the more fun it is for the players.”
The boys will be facing the Brampton Bombers in Brampton at 7:30 p.m. on Friday before heading back to home ice to go up against Cambridge for a 7 p.m. puck drop.