Signing Tyler Mazzocato as a backup goaltender has the Sugar Kings looking pretty well set between the pipes heading into a new season.
Mazzocato comes to Elmira from the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, where he held the best goals against average in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League last season.
“We’re really excited to get him. We tried to get him last year actually, but he stayed and played in Kirkland Lake. But he’s coming down here to school this year,” said Sugar Kings director of hockey operations Jeff Snyder.
Jon Reinhart will be the team’s primary goaltender. Reinhart started last season in the British Columbia Hockey League playing for the Nanaimo Clippers, before heading to the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and eventually returning home to Elmira in January.
“I think he gives us a great one-two combination between him and Jon. He has three years left, so he’ll have a year with Jon. I think he can learn from Jon, and Tyler’s a really good goaltender in his own right. I think he could be a number-one on a lot of teams, so we feel that we’ve got a great combination in net for this year and then going forward he really helps us for the next couple years after that as well,” Snyder said.
He notes Mazzocato is a big goalie who moves well and had a great year in Kirkland Lake last year.
“Goaltending is always a hard spot to fill, so to get that looked after for the next few years is just great for us,” Snyder said.
He says they’re still looking for one more forward and one more defenseman.
Ethan Skinner who played in Elmira for the past two seasons also decided to switch to the BCHL, where he will be playing for the Merritt Centennials.
He wore the ‘A’ for the Kings last season and helped the team win the Cherrey Cup the season prior. Last year, the 18-year-old accumulated 24 goals and 60 assists for Elmira in the regular season.
“That’s a tough one. We loved having Ethan on our team. He was a great player and he was a great guy in the community, was very willing to help out with all the things that we do, be involved in the Santa Claus parade, reading to the kids at the library, all those things, he was great for that,” Snyder said.
He says Skinner feels going to the BCHL gives him a better opportunity to get a scholarship in the U.S., which is his goal. Snyder thinks Skinner will do well out there and they wish him all the best.
“It worked for Adam Brubacher. He went out there last year and it worked out for him and it’s just kind of the way the landscape of our league is right now, sometimes the colleges just want to see them play at one more level, sometimes they don’t. In his case they do. He feels he needs to do that. I know he really wrestled with the decision because he really liked playing in Elmira,” Skinner said.
Brubacher played three seasons with Elmira (2012-2015) before switching to the BCHL, where he spent part of last season with the Prince George Spruce Kings before moving to the Powell River Kings. He’s committed to the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers in the NCAA for the 2016-17 season.
“It’s a loss for us, but we are trying to advance players’ careers too,” Snyder said of Skinner.
“I think this will help him do that.”
The Sugar Kings’ main camp is just a month away, on Aug. 20. The 2016-17 season has yet to be released.