The odds were certainly stacked against the Kings this weekend as they faced off against the Guelph Hurricanes in back-to-back games. But after dropping the season’s first two match-ups, the Kings struck back over the weekend, taking both ends of the home-and-home series.
In Guelph last Saturday, they skated to a 4-1 win. Then, returning home to the WMC the following day, the Kings continued the comeuppance with an 8-3 victory.
The game on October 14 began on solid footing for the Kings. Ethan Wiseman potted their first and only goal of the opening frame in the first two minutes of play, with Jeremy Goodwin and new Kings’ recruit Harrison Toms picking up assists.
“Harrison, he’s been playing well for us,” said head coach Trent Brown about the newest King. “He’s got some points but he also moves the puck very well. He’s a smooth skater, but he’s very calm with the puck and he makes solid puck decisions most of the time.”
Opening the second with a 1-0 lead, the Kings added to their advantage with not one, but two points in rapid succession.
Goodwin potted their second point at the 12-minute mark, assisted by Keenan Stewart and Wiseman. Less than a minute later, Ethan Skinner (Ryan Takamatsu, Tyler McBay) made it 3-0.
Entering the final 20 minutes with a three-goal lead, the Kings might’ve felt they had the game in the bag, but past experience with the Hurricanes would have told them not to get cocky. The Kings racked up a few more penalties, but even that didn’t appear to be an impediment, as Skinner picked up a shorty at 10:30, assisted by Tyler Beauparlant.
With 9:30 left to play and the Hurricanes facing a possible shutout, another Elmira penalty gave the home team just the opening they needed. The Hurricanes pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, and then went at the net for their first and only goal on the power play at 14:37.
The game ended 4-1.
Bolstered by the win, the Kings were primed for a rematch and eager to avenge the home-opener. That they did, posting an even bigger spread than the night before. The final tally was 8-3.
“Sunday there, our game was pretty excellent,” said Brown. “We were using our speed, using our physicality … Sunday was probably the closest we played to a full 60-minute game.”
It was a furious match that saw the Kings bulldoze the competition, taking shot after shot and scoring goal after goal, even while Guelph retaliated with a few of their own.
Just four minutes into the first, Skinner scored the team’s first, assisted by Cameron and Takamatsu. At 9:30, they scored again, this time off the stick of Goodwin (McBay). Guelph came back with their own point at 16:21 and closed the frame 2-1 for the Kings.
Midway through the second, Goodwin (Ethan Wiseman, Jeff Jordan) scored on the power play. Guelph came back with a power play goal of their own two minutes after. Two minutes after that, Wiseman scored the King’s fourth goal unassisted. And then, with three-and-a-half minutes left on the clock, Jordan (Cameron, McBay) scored on a second power play, putting the Kings up 5-2 going into the second intermission.
It was the most heated frame of the match, with the penalties piling up on both sides, including a game misconduct for Elmira’s MacKay. The shots flew for the first half with neither team gaining ground, until Goodwin (Stewart) broke the deadlock right at the 10-minute mark.
It was around this point that tensions came to a head as scuffles broke out among players, forcing the officials to step in. The fisticuffs sent Comelli and Beauparlant and two Guelph players off the ice.
The game resumed, and soon after Jordan (Toms, Takamatsu) potted another, making it 7-2 for Elmira. Guelph came back with their third goal of the match just over a minute later, but with less than five minutes to go and a four-point lead, Elmira had all but clinched the game. Rounding things out with 30 seconds left on the clock, Cameron (Niki Molson, Jordan) scored to make it an 8-3 final.
Posting back-to-back wins this weekend, the Sugar Kings (7-6) were steadily reversing some of their loses earlier in the season. The team is sitting precariously in fourth place in the Midwestern Conference, just slightly behind Guelph (6-5-1-2) and narrowly ahead of Waterloo (6-4-0-1), though that could change at a moment’s notice. Near the top, Listowel (9-3) and Stratford (9-2) continue to dominate with a healthy lead over their rivals.
The next two games will have the Kings on the road to play the Brampton Bombers (5-6) Friday evening, followed by a home game against the Stratford Warriors Sunday. Despite being ahead in the standings, Stratford’s only other match against Elmira in September ended in a 5-2 win for the Kings.
“Brampton on Friday, they’re always a hard-working team so we’re going to have to match their work ethic, if not surpass it,” said Brown. Stratford, meanwhile was performing very well.
“So we’re going to have to be on our A game for them as well. There really isn’t a night you can have off in this league anymore.”