The Elmira Sugar Kings took two games in a row to double overtime this weekend, tying with Stratford on Friday night, and winning against Waterloo on Sunday.
Friday’s game in Stratford ended in a 2-2 tie after two scoreless overtime periods, and head coach Ty Canal says overall, the boys did what they had to.
“I thought that we were skating and competing pretty well. We played a really good first period, we got on the scoreboard first, which is always a nice thing, but then the second period, we were back on our heels a bit more than we had hoped, and we were playing the defensive zone a bit too often and for too long – more than we would have liked,” he said. “I thought our guys battled and we were able to skate with them and hold with them, and obviously it ended in a tie, but I thought we had a lot of back and forth opportunities and it was a quick and fast paced game.”
Rob Kohli opened scoring in the first on the power play, with assists from Zac Coulter and Kevin Fitzpatrick just three minutes in. Overall, it was a clean period, with only three penalties getting handed out – two to Stratford and one for Elmira.
In the second period, the Kings doubled their lead with a shorthanded goal from Mackenzie MacSorley, with a rare assist from goalie Jonathan Reinhart. The Cullitons answered back later in the second, with a goal from Zach Van Louwe, assisted by Justin Graham and Josh Miller.
The third period was fairly uneventful with only one penalty, to Stratford’s Drew Goss on a hooking call, and one goal, coming from Cullitons forward Hayden Broomhead, assisted by Jack Scanlan.
With the game tied at two, the teams faced on in a pair of overtime periods, but both goalies were able to hold out, ending the game in a tie.
Reinhart stopped 47 of 49 shots, a high number for any game. Canal says he definitely held his own between the posts.
“He played very well for us on Friday and kept them out when we needed him to,” he said.
On Sunday, the Kings were back home at the Woolwich Memorial Centre, hosting the Waterloo Siskins. Elmira took the win with a score of 4-3 after a period and a half of overtime, the second game in a row to end up in a second overtime period.
Canal says the first and third periods were good for the boys, with a bit of work needed in the second. Turnovers were a problem for the team, and something they will be working on heading into the final games of the season.
“Yeah, it was exciting, from the fan’s standpoint,” he said with a laugh. “It was the same sort of thing (as Friday). Again, I thought we gave up a few too many scoring opportunities and the turnovers I thought were pretty high for us that game, and I think that put us on our heels for a bit when we should have been turning the puck the other way, going on offense. We were sort of loose on the puck and they were able to turn that into momentum for themselves. I thought our third period was good, for the most part. Guys stepped up, and they ended up going up to 3-2 before we scored. It is really good to see that our guys can battle in those last five minutes and bring their play up, which they did.”
All four goals from Elmira were on the power play, something Canal says they have been working on. Now, he says the next step is to perfect five-on-five play.
“That is great to see. Any time you can get your special teams going in that direction is a good thing, but now we have to find a way to score some five-on-five goals,” he said.
Elmira started the scoring with a power play marker from Alex Peterson, from Jake Moggy and Quinten Bruce, but Waterloo was pretty quick to respond, with a goal from Andrew Lane (Thomas Haffner, Drayton Duckett).
The second period saw no scoring, and an unsuccessful penalty shot from Jeff Jordan at 6:25.
In the third, Jordan brought Elmira into the lead, from Peterson and Moggy on the power play, but the Siskins were quick to answer with two goals of their own. First up, from Gary Mantz on the power play, from Brett Schaefer and Owen Kipke at 13:50, and then just over a minute later, another marker from Jared Lindsay, assisted by Anthony Pullicino and Haffner.
With only five minutes left in regulation time, and down by one goal, the Kings fought back on the power play, with a goal coming from Ethan Skinner, assisted by Coulter and Fitzpatrick.
“The veterans on Sunday, that last five minutes, really stepped it up. They bore down and got the job done,” said Canal.
With a score of 3-3, overtime began. There was no scoring in the first overtime period, and in the second, Coulter clinched the win for the Kings, with a goal, coming from Skinner and MacSorley.
The win against Waterloo also marked a milestone for Kings forward Kohli. The Sugar King scored his 100th point as a member of the team, a number Canal says is reflected in Kohli’s play.
“He is a guy that has been in the league for a while, and he puts the weight on his shoulders to be a two-way player and to be a leader on the team, and we are expecting the same thing. Anybody that has been in the league that long, and had success, it can funnel down to the younger players, which we are going to need for sure. He takes that leadership role on both sides of the puck,” he said of Kohli’s place in the team family. “Obviously, 100 career points is a big milestone. He has got some offensive abilities there, and he is one of the stronger players in the defensive zone too. It is making sure that he’s doing what he needs to do there and bring along the rest of the team.”
With only two games left in the regular season, Canal says the team is going to be focusing on doing everything right come playoff time, but first, they will be visiting Brampton on Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. game, before heading home to finish out the season against Stratford at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28.
“The end is coming up very quickly. We are in Brampton on Friday night, and we are going to be working on that five-on-five hockey, just making sure that we are working on our turnovers and trying to find some offense, get some scoring chances, and playing with that momentum that we know we have,” said Canal. “(Playoffs have) always been in the back of our mind, for sure, that we are playing the way we want to play when that comes. We are still tweaking, but we are moving in the right direction, but that never ends. We don’t know who we are playing against yet, so we are concerned about ourselves and making sure that hopefully, we can limit the turnovers and play the way that we need to be successful.”
Heading into the final weekend, the Kings had a record of 22-19-2 , the 51 points good enough for fifth place in the division. The fourth-place spot is still a battle between Guelph (60 points) and Listowel (62 points).