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Kings overcome slow start to beat Brantford

Even with a win against visiting Brantford, Elmira Sugar Kings coach Ty Canal says it wasn’t the kind of hockey he wanted to see.

The Kings hosted the 99ers for a Sunday matinee. After trailing for the first period, they managed to gain the lead en route to a 5-3 win.

Canal says he is happy with the two points, but the game could have gone better.

“We didn’t play our best, and our guys know that. We gave up way too many odd-man rushes, we turned the puck over a lot, but they were able to come back from being down and got the win, which, at the end of the day, is a good thing,” he said.

In the first intermission, with Brantford up 2-1, Canal says he had to remind his players to step up their game.

“It is just trying to remind them of the things that they weren’t doing and trying to make sure that the guys know. We talk with them quite a bit about how we know they can play, and how they can improve and the type of team that we think we have,” he shared. “The guys are all on the same page with that, it is just about reminding the guys that they can do it. We just have to make sure that we are executing what we need to and not allow teams, especially at home, to come in and be up on us, especially after just one period.”

Brantford’s Kyle Walker started scoring in the first, and five minutes later, Elmira’s Matt Murray took advantage of a powerplay to tie it up. The 99ers took the lead with a goal from Mike Finger just 40 seconds before the buzzer.

Scoring was scant in the second, with just one goal from Elmira’s Josh Slegers on the powerplay.

Elmira took control in the third period. Some punches were thrown and whistles were blown, but the Kings managed to score three. First from Jacob Black, an unassisted marker from Ethan Skinner and a perfect goal from Zack Cameron and Klayton Hoelscher. Brantford got one back on the powerplay.

Elmira’s Zack Cameron scores on Brantford on Sunday afternoon in what head coach Ty Canal said was the perfect goal. The Kings won the game 5-3. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]

Canal says the final goal of the game was a perfect example of how the Kings should be playing all the time. He saw glimpses of the game he knows the guys can play.

“Hoelscher goes down the wing like he should, Cameron goes to the net, Hoelscher shoots, hits the net, rebound caused and Cameron stops on the doorstep and bangs it home. Black won the faceoff. So you have a stretch like that, and then we turned the puck over five times,” said Canal. “They get frustrated because they know it can happen like that. Skinner had a nice goal where we went end-to-end. He was skating and using his speed and his smarts, and in the first period, he gave the puck over a couple of times.”

It wasn’t just the forwards who were having a couple of issues on Sunday afternoon.

“Then you have the defense, where the breakout pass is quick in the one shift, then we get a scoring chance, then they hold it. It is that 60 minutes of hockey that I don’t think we have hit in a while,” said Canal.

He says there is a possibility the team is over-thinking their game, which can lead to overly complicated plays that just don’t pan out. Back in October, Elmira had a jam-packed schedule with three-game weekends, and plenty of wins.

“It was just, ‘hey, we’ve got to play again.’ Last week, we practiced on Thursday and we didn’t play until Sunday. This week was a Sunday to Sunday break. It is a different mentality from October hockey to what we have had in November and December. We have to make sure that our guys are sharp, and sharp for the 60 full minutes no matter what the circumstances are. That is something that we are definitely  going to work on,” said Canal. “We play Thursday this week against Brantford, so that is a good thing. We got the game in Sunday and then we turn around and are back at it. I think our guys need that.”

The Kings are in Brantford on Dec. 15 before coming back home Sunday for another matinee game against Listowel at 2 p.m.

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