Two weekend wins keep the Elmira Sugar Kings sitting pretty atop the Midwestern Conference standings.
At home on Saturday night versus the second-place Listowel Cyclones, the Kings fell behind less than 30 seconds into the game on a goal from Listowel’s Ben VanOoteghem. Brady Anderson and Tommy Hoogars assisted.
As the minutes wound down, Elmira’s Ethan Skinner found the back of the net, shorthanded, and assisted by captain Jeff Jordan to tie the game.
Neither goalie let anything past them in the second period, third period, or even the first period of overtime.
Skinner gave the Kings the 2-1 victory, helped by Jake Brown in the second period of overtime play to end the game. Elmira goalie Jonathan Reinhart stopped 45 of 46 shots from Listowel.
Head coach Ty Canal says there was plenty of good back and forth hockey that game.
“When we were playing five-on-five, both teams had some scoring chances, and Listowel plays a very tight, very good defensive hockey, so we were able to capitalize when we could. It would have been nice to push for a couple more secondary scoring chances, but our guys battled through it and played a pretty good game of hockey,” Canal said.
Less than 24 hours later, the Kings travelled down the 85 to face off against the Waterloo Siskins on Sunday afternoon.
Not appearing tired and perhaps carrying momentum from the overtime win the night before, the Elmira squad was strong out of the gate, finishing the first 20 minutes up 5-1 en route to a 9-4 decision.
“When you have a quick turnaround it really can happen either way, so we were sort of crossing our fingers that we were able to keep some momentum, and we were. It was nice to get that type of a first period from our guys,” Canal said.
Skinner scored less than 30 seconds into play on the first shot of the game.
Elmira goals in the first came from Skinner (2), Brown (2) and Quinten Bruce. They were assisted by Mitch Hoelscher (3), Brown, Matt Murray, Jordan, Andrew McIntyre and Brock Philips.
Waterloo’s Karter Renouf, helped by James Ranson got his team on the board.
“We got off to a good start and I think that helped our guys ease into playing in that rink and playing away from home. I think that was key for our guys and I think it settled our guys down for sure, especially playing the night before going into double overtime. So it was something we were looking for was a good start and our guys were able to get it done,” Canal said.
The Kings pushed ahead further in the second period as Kyle Soper, Skinner and Keanan Stewart got on the board. This was Stewart’s first goal as a Sugar King.
Zack Cameron, Anthony Azzano, Brown, Hoelscher, Blair Butchart and Soper assisted.
With just one second left in the period, Waterloo’s Lucas Goodman scored, assisted by Alex Cimino and Renouf to make the score 8-2 heading into the final frame.
Siskin Connor Bodnar (Goodman, Ryan Sparkes, Renouf, Spencer Kersten) scored twice in the third in an attempt to dig his team out of the hole, but one final goal from Elmira’s Jacob Black (Murray, Ty Biles) sealed the deal 9-4 for the visiting Sugar Kings.
Reinhart stopped 18 of 20 shots for his team in the first 40 minutes and Tyler Mazzocato saved 14 of 16 shots in the final 20 minutes of play. Mazzocato just got full clearance from his injury and the plan was to ease him back into a full schedule once he was feeling good.
“The game just sort of played out and we were able to get him a little bit of game time which is definitely going to help him out. And Jonny got a little bit of rest too, which is nice for him at the same time,” Canal said.
It was a good weekend for Brown and Skinner. Brown tallied two goals and three assists, earning his 200th career point in the GOJHL. Skinner earned five goals and one assist. Canal says they’re finding chemistry on the ice together, doing a good job of creating odd-man rushes and making offensive opportunities from the defensive side.
They have a bit of break this weekend with only one game against the Kitchener Dutchmen on Sunday night at home.
“I think our guys need it. It’s well deserved as well. Everybody’s now back from injuries which is nice finally. It’ll be a nice little break and they can recoup and reenergize themselves and get ready for the push before Christmas.”
The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Nov. 27.