The Elmira Sugar Kings pulled off a blowout win last weekend against Brantford, scoring six unanswered goals and earning a shutout for returning goalie Jonathan Reinhart.
Head coach Ty Canal says the boys showed up Sunday night on home ice, and the score reflects their hard work.
“They were able to keep momentum and keep the system. The guys were able to run off one another whether it was a good shift, or whether we got run in a little bit, the next line was able to turn that around for us and not give them a lot of sustained pressure,” he said. “I thought we kept them to the outside pretty well, so overall, I think it was a good game.”
Elmira’s Kalob Witzell opened up the scoring in the first, just under four minutes in, with help from Ryley Cribbin and Beau Goehrum. Team captain Rob Kohli, doubled up with a power play goal, assisted by Ethan Skinner and Kevin Fitzpatrick, while Brantford’s Jonathan Pace was in the box for interference.
Jeff Jordan upped the lead to three in the second period, with assists to Fitzpatrick and Ryan Maksymyk.
The third period, Brantford fought hard, but not hard enough. Elmira scored three more goals and consistently shutdown any 99ers attempt at putting a goal on the board.
The first marker of the third period came from Mackenzie MacSorley, with assists from Skinner and Cribbin. The Sugar Kings forward followed up with his second goal of the game and 14th with the team, just three minutes later, helped along by Zac Coulter and Skinner.
Just over half way through the third, Coulter put Elmira six ahead of Brantford with a little help from MacSorley and Skinner. The final score was 6-0 for Elmira against the eighth place 99ers.
There were a couple of close calls with Brantford trying to get the puck past Reinhart, but he didn’t let a single puck squeeze by. Canal was pleased to see the returning netminder keeping the other team on their toes.
“I thought he played well. He played really steady and he was able to guide any shots to spots where Brantford wasn’t, and keep the rebound scoring chances away,” said Canal. “When we had a couple of breakdowns, he was definitely there making some big stops and I think his confidence kept improving though the game. You could see it in the way he was playing and the way he was handling himself.”
Sunday night’s game also marked the first time Klayton Hoelscher has been in the lineup since breaking his ankle back in October. Canal says he was happy, and pleasantly surprised to see how the returning player fit back into his place on the ice.
“I thought he did a lot better than most, and maybe even himself, expected. It has been a while, so you definitely don’t know what to expect, and I don’t think he did either. He worked really hard, and we knew he was going to do that. He is that type of kid,” said Canal. “It was good that he felt comfortable, and the more he played, I thought, things started to slide in a bit for him. He was using his stick really well, getting into areas that when you have been off that long, sometimes you avoid. He was going into the corners hard and he was standing in front of the net like he usually does. It was great to see, and very good strides for him. Being that long out, the guys like seeing him in the lineup, which is a good thing.”
Rather than a midweek practice, the Kings were in Kitchener Tuesday night for a game against the first-place Dutchmen, where they fell 3-2.
“We usually skate Tuesdays, it is not a really big change for us, and getting on the road is going to be good for us. We didn’t have a practice, so it is just about trying to keep the momentum going from Sunday’s game,” said Canal. “It is about keeping the confidence going and making sure the guys are all on the same page. Just really make sure they are ready to work. I think our guys are ready for that and that they are looking forward to the game. They are in the standings where they are for a reason, but we have been really happy with the way we have been skating, working and the way we have been practicing, so I think it will be a good test for us.”
On Saturday night, the team will be travelling to Guelph to play the fourth- place Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. before returning home for a matchup against Waterloo on Sunday night at 7 p.m.