The Sugar Kings managed two wins over the weekend – beating Cambridge and Waterloo – but neither game was a walk in the park.
“We definitely came out with the four points, which is nice, but I don’t think we came out of the gate as strong as we would like and we gave up some scoring chances and obviously those teams will capitalize on you,” said Elmira’s head coach Ty Canal.
In Cambridge on Saturday the Elmira team had to work into overtime to secure a 4-3 win over the Winter Hawks.
Ethan Skinner got things rolling in the first for the Kings, assisted by Tyler McBay and Anthony Azzano.
Cambridge leveled the playing field as Kole Scott put the puck past Elmira netminder Jonathan Reinhart. Mathieu Mercier and Tyler Harrison assisted.
Cambridge added two goals in the second period to pull ahead 3-1. Goals came from Liam Buckley (Ryan George, Corson Searles) and Scott (Mercier, Harrison).
While Cambridge’s Ryan George sat in the penalty box for high sticking, Quinten Bruce took advantage and scored for Elmira, assisted by Jeff Jordan and Skinner.
Less than three minutes into the final frame, Kyle Soper locked the game at 3s, helped by Dawson Shackelton. No one else would score, which sent the game into overtime.
Elmira’s Jake Brown found the back of Cambridge’s net quickly, assisted by Skinner and Josh Slegers to end the game.
Elmira ran into serious penalty troubles in the second period with 10 penalties handed out to the team. They tallied 60 penalty minutes that game to Cambridge’s 22.
“Saturday night we got behind, but our guys were able to find a way to get that done and come out on top. Saturday was a game that was definitely a battle. There were a lot of penalties both ways, so special teams was key,” Canal said.
At home on Sunday evening, the visiting Waterloo Siskins gave Elmira a run for their money. By the end of the first 20 minutes of play Elmira led 3-1 with goals from Soper, Jordan and Brown. Jacob Black, Skinner (2) and Brown picked up assists.
Connor Bodnar (Ryan Sparkes, Lucas Goodman) gave the Siskins their lone goal. The score stayed the same throughout the second. Ty Biles scored in the third for Elmira to increase the lead 4-1, helped by Slegers and Bruce.
Two minutes later Waterloo picked up two quick goals less than a minute apart from Goodman (Bodnar, Sparkes) and Alex Potter (Goodman).
“Momentum is funny in hockey. It doesn’t take much to fall back on your heels and the other team to get pushing a little bit more. Waterloo’s quick. We knew they could gain momentum in a hurry and close that gap in the game. We were trying to prepare for it, but they got those two quick ones, but we were able to sharpen up the way we were playing and stay up on top there,” Canal said.
Late in the game Waterloo pulled goalie Liam Devine in an attempt to tie the game, but Andrew McIntyre found the puck and scored on the empty net to take the game 5-3. Black assisted.
Elmira goalie Tyler Mazzocato saved 25 of 28 shots to Devine’s 34 of 38.
With just one game this coming weekend, Canal said they’ll be re-energizing and preparing to come out strong this week.
“I think the big thing for our guys is when they’re skating well. Jordy’s quick, McIntyre’s quick, Skinner’s quick. A lot of our lineup can play fast. I think that’s key for us and that’s when our guys play well too I think. Guys like Biles and Bruce if they’re skating they can get on the forecheck,” Canal said.
Those familiar with the Kings roster will have noticed one face missing this weekend. Blair Butchart has decided to return to his Junior C team, the Mount Forest Patriots. The Kings now have seven defensemen and 12 forwards.
The Sugar Kings have moved down to second place in the Midwestern Conference. They’re now behind the Listowel Cyclones by three points. Listowel (23-2-0) has lost only two games this season to Elmira’s five (22-5-1).
The Kings are off until Sunday. They’ll face the last place Brantford 99ers at the Woolwich Memorial Centre for a 2 p.m. puck drop.