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Christmas break over, Kings gear up for the last leg of the season

The Elmira Sugar Kings ended 2016 on a low note, but are looking to get back into the swing of things in the final stretch of the regular season.

The Kings fell to the Brampton Bombers on Dec. 23 by a score of 3-2.

Head coach Ty Canal says the team had its chances, but Bombers goalie Brendon Landry stopped 53 shots in 60 minutes.

“He played well and he stopped some very close chances, for sure, but we also didn’t generate enough offensively,” said Canal. “And defensively, it didn’t go the way we wanted to either.”

The Kings spent too much time in their own end.

“When you are chasing the d-zone, you can’t generate a lot, and unfortunately, we didn’t,” said Canal.

The team did well on the penalty kill, however. The Bombers had six power plays and were only able to capitalize on one.

“Whenever you have penalties, you lose some momentum and you lose that type of drive and intensity when you are on your heels on the penalty kill, but you know, they did well with that, skated well, blocked some shots, Mazzocato played well in net. Obviously, the penalty kill is not strong if your goalie isn’t there for you. That is one positive thing you can take out of it,” he said.

Elmira’s two goals were scored in the opening frame, the first coming from Ethan Skinner from Tyler McBay and Josh Slegers. The second was less than two minutes later from Jacob Black, assisted by Klayton Hoelscher and Dawson Shackelton. From Brampton, Masson Sarris, Mathew Pigat and Rico Rossi scored on Kings goalie Tyler Mazzocato.

Canal says now that it’s 2017, it is a matter of new year, new beginnings. The team faces off against the Waterloo Siskins and the Guelph Hurricanes, both at home, this weekend. The Kings are sitting in second place in the Midwestern Conference behind Listowel, but are in a good spot with two games in hand. The idea is to gather up four more points this weekend.

“I think the more important thing is that we need to get back to playing a full 60 minutes of hockey. I don’t think we have been there in a while, so when you can play a full game, it shows on the scoreboard, and this weekend should be nice, hopefully we can pull off some wins in that stretch,” said Canal.

With two-thirds of the regular season behind them, Canal says it is all about thinking in terms of playoffs.

“I think it is going to come down to the d-zone for sure. We either have to limit the number of shots, or the amount of time that the other team is in our zone. From there, we hopefully will be increasing the number of odd-man rushes, and secondly decrease the scoring chances that we are giving up and with the hockey games that are left, that will be key for us,” he said. “In the playoffs, that is the kind of game that you expect to see so we have to make sure to ramp that up and make sure our tempo is going well in the defensive zone.”

It isn’t just the Sugar Kings that will be stepping up their game in the new year.

“It is a fresh start. It is a new year, and this is where teams seem to get better, the compete level increases and we get closer to playoffs. We have to make sure that we answer everything and play up to the speed that we want to play,” he said.

The Kings host the Waterloo Siskins at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 and the Guelph Hurricanes at 7 p.m. on Jan. 8. Both games are at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.

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