It was a win-lose weekend for the Sugar Kings, losing against Listowel on Friday night and winning their home opener game against Stratford on Sunday afternoon.
The weekend started slow for the Kings with a 5-1 lost to the Cyclones in Listowel. Head coach Ty Canal says he didn’t like what he saw on the ice on Friday night.
“We just weren’t playing well. I thought we just weren’t skating. We got outworked, we got outshot, we took penalties and we just weren’t playing the game that we needed to play,” he said. “Listowel is a very good hockey team and they capitalized when they did and that is what happened there.”
Sunday afternoon was a different story, however. The Sugar Kings hosted the Stratford Warriors for a matinee game at their home opener, and took the W 6-4.
“We still took too many penalties and got into that game a little bit, but I thought we skated a lot better and played as a team,” he said. “On Friday, and I don’t like to say this, but the guys were just going through the motions and there wasn’t a lot of intensity compared to Sunday. I thought they came out a lot better and played with some consistency for the full 60 minutes.”
In Listowel, Elmira opened scoring with a marker from Zack Cameron, assisted by Klayton Hoelscher and Dawson Shackleton just two minutes in, but that would be it for the Kings.
Listowel fired in two goals at the end of the first, one from Danny Skinner on the powerplay at 17:05, and the other from former Sugar King Ryley Cribbin, assisted by Blair Jenkins and Tomas Azzano just a few seconds later.
The second period saw a shorthanded goal from Listowel’s Holdyn Lansink from Jakob Lee. The Cyclones’ scoring momentum held in the third with another from Danny Skinner from Lee and Lansink and their fifth goal from Mitch Deelstra, assisted by Chayse Herrfort and Lansink. Both goals were on the powerplay.
Sunday’s game versus Stratford was back and forth with the Warriors answering four of six King goals almost immediately.
Quinten Bruce started out scoring on the powerplay, with help from Josh Slegers and captain Jeff Jordan. Stratford fired back 45 seconds later with a marker from Brady Hinz off Curtis Abbot and Dylan Lebold. Just minutes later, Bruce added another marker for the Kings, again on the powerplay from Jake Brown and Ethan Skinner. Once again, Stratford evened out the score with a goal from Abbot on the powerplay.
The second period was scarce on goals, with just one coming from Kings’ forward Brown, assisted by Ty Biles and Ethan Skinner.
The Warriors started out the third period with a goal from Justin Graham on the powerplay, assisted by Abbot and Keaton Ratcliffe. Twenty seconds later, Elmira returnee Ethan Skinner scored from Brown. Graham Brulotte scored the Warriors’ last goal of the game at 7:30 with help from Anthony Kotsovos and Abbot.
Brown gave the Kings the lead with a shorthanded marker from Skinner at 8:05 in the third. Cameron cemented the lead with a goal less than five minutes left from Hoelscher and Blair Butchart.
Some may be surprised to see Ethan Skinner back on the Sugar Kings roster. He was set to move to the West Coast and play for the Merritt Centennials, but has made the move back to Elmira.
“He just decided that it wasn’t what he was looking for and he wanted to come back. Obviously, wanted to come play for us, so we got him in the lineup as quick as we can and just trying to get him back to the comfort level that he was at last season,” said Canal. “It is a good thing, obviously. He is a good player and he is settling back in.”
Next up for the Kings, a rematch with Stratford on Friday night, before hosting Brampton at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Sunday night.
Canal says there are a few spots he wants to see the team smooth out before puck drop.
“I think a lot of it is just executing the little things in the game. I thought Sunday, we gave a lot of odd-man rushes and the teams will capitalize on those, so we definitely have to minimize that. Our penalty kill also wasn’t the strongest,” he said. “We tend to have to do it a lot, unfortunately, but that could be sharper, that’s for sure. It is now just building to consistent hockey as well. Getting that repetition in, getting the guys skating, especially this early on that is something that we will keep working on. It is unfortunate that the differential between the two games this weekend happened, but sometimes the guys have got to see that too. There are definitely no easy nights off. It is something that we need to just keep building on.”
The Kings start their game against Stratford at 7:30 p.m. at the Allman Arena on Sept. 23 before coming back to Elmira for a 7 p.m. match on Sept. 25 against Brampton.