The Elmira Sugar Kings redeemed themselves this weekend, defeating both the Brampton Bombers and the Cambridge Winter Hawks after losing two games to the Waterloo Siskins last week.
It took five goals from the Kings and 45 minutes of play before Brampton even got on the board on Friday night. Zac Coulter, Ryan Maksymyk, and Jake Moggy gave Elmira a 3-0 lead in the first, assisted by Ethan Skinner, Mackenzie MacSorley, Ryan Walsh, Kalob Witzell, Jeff Jordan, and Alex Peterson.Quinten Bruce (Witzell) and Skinner (MacSorley, Coulter) increased that lead to 5-0 in the second. Brampton’s Adel Zivojevic finally put the puck in Elmira’s net five minutes into the third, assisted by Wyatt Weppler and Nolan Regan.
Kevin Fitzpatrick (MacSorley, Skinner) added one more for the Kings to make it a 6-1 victory.
“We played really well that game,” said head coach Ty Canal.
“I thought that was one of our most consistent games we’ve had in a while, when you look at a full 60 minutes. That’s definitely nice to see. Guys responded well, guys played for one another. It was a game with momentum we were able to hold for the most part and push the pace how we wanted to play.”
Elmira goalie Liam Devine stopped 52 of 53 shots sent his way to Bomber net-minder Eric Pitcher’s 14 saves of 19 shots.
Canal attributes part of the team’s consistency that game to a lot of five-on-five play.
“There was a flow to it. … Our guys were able to get into the game, they were able to skate, they were able to just continually play hockey. They didn’t have to over think anything. It was just going out and doing what you need to do to be successful on the ice,” Canal said.
On home ice on Sunday, the Kings weren’t playing the best they could, but they still managed to come away with the win over last place Cambridge.
The boys in green and gold came out of the gate hot, scoring 41 seconds into the game with a successful shot from Walsh, assisted by Fitzpatrick.
That’s the last we’d see of Fitzpatrick as he was ejected from the game, along with Cambridge’s Harlen VanWynsberghe less than 90 seconds in for fighting. Fitzpatrick was traded to Elmira from Cambridge last week at the same time that VanWynsberghe was traded to Cambridge from Elmira.
But penalties would not go in their favour as Cambridge put back two power play goals from Robert Proner and Kyle Heitzner to hold a 2-1 advantage going into the second frame, while Elmira’s Dawson Shackelton and Kyle Soper were out on cross checking and roughing calls.
Assists for the Winter Hawks came from former Sugar King Mitch Montgomery, Sean Ross, Jake Beard, and Proner.
A power play marker from Peterson (Jeff Jordan, Jake Moggy) at 11:37 in the second tied the game up again, but Cambridge answered back with their own power play goal from Sean Ross (Beard, Proner).
And continuing on with the power play scoring trend, Elmira put away three more power play goals in the third to finish the game on the winning side of a 5-3 decision. Third period scorers were MacSorley, Bruce, and Skinner. Helpers were Skinner, Rob Kohli, Peterson, and Moggy. Skinner’s was on an empty net, unassisted, when Cambridge pulled their goalie late in the game.
“I think we made a lot of mistakes that game. Our guys were able to find a way to win which is great to see, especially in those types of games when we were down for most of it too. Our guys were able to hold the composure pretty well, keep believing in themselves and just making sure we were putting ourselves in a situation to win at the end,” Canal said.
The Kings aren’t known for racking up a ton of time in penalties, but they finished the game on Sunday with 53 minutes spent in the box to Cambridge’s meager 17. Soper accounted for six of the 15 infractions for roughing, hooking, abuse of officials, head contact (2), and game misconduct.
Their previous highest penalty minutes per game this season was 38 minutes versus Kitchener on Nov. 24.
This also marked Jonathan Reinhart’s first return to the net since the Kings acquired him last week.
“To have a guy that brought you the Cherrey Cup the year before I think it’s definitely a comfort level. I think it’s good for Liam [Devine] as well. Reinhart’s obviously been there before, he’s got a couple more years of experience and there’s a lot of learning that can happen between the two of them and they can help push each other and make each other better and that’s going to benefit the team,” Canal said.
Klayton Hoelscher who’s been out since last year recovering from a broken ankle is expected to be back for the Sugar Kings in the coming weeks, if he keeps improving how his doctor had hoped. Canal says every time he gets on the ice at practice it’s an improvement, and Hoelscher is anxious to play again.
Meanwhile, his younger brother Mitch has helped filling in with the Kings for two games.
“He’s a smart hockey player. He’s got a lot of speed. He makes some very smart decisions with the puck. He’s not afraid to get in the corner, he’s not afraid to cycle the puck and go to the front of the net. He’s definitely a very good hockey player and he’ll have a bright future,” Canal said.
The Kings will face the Brantford 99ers at the WMC on Sunday at 7 p.m.