Home cooking did the trick, as the Sugar Kings rebounded from a 5-3 loss in Brantford October 26 to post a 5-1 victory over the visiting Kitchener Dutchmen last Sunday.
The loss on the road was disappointing, as the Kings had skated to an 8-4 win the last time they met the 99ers. After a back-and-forth start, the Kings let the wheels come off later in the game.
“We definitely didn’t start the game on time. We didn’t show up the way that we can, unfortunately. That’s something that we have to work on is our consistency in showing up,” said head coach Trent Brown about Thursday’s game.
The opening period was a hard-fought affair, with neither side ceding much ice, though the home team had a decisive edge in shots, 14-6. It wasn’t until there was less than five minutes to go in the frame that anyone managed to score. Unfortunately for Elmira, it was the 99ers who did so.
Opening the second down 1-0, the Kings worked quickly to close the gap with Jeff Jordan (Zack Cameron, Tyler McBay) burying on just 2:40 in to knot up the score. At 9:20, Matt Mackay potted Elmira’ second on the power play, this time with Jordan and Keanan Stewart picking up assists.
Finding themselves with a 2-1 lead, the Kings couldn’t hang on through the period. A penalty at 16:41 proved to be just the tonic for Brantford, who scored on the ensuing power play. It was 2-2 after 40 minutes.
It was anyone’s game going into the third as both teams pushed to break the deadlock. The first signs of disaster struck at the 7-minute mark when Brantford scored, placing them back in the lead 3-2. It was a narrow lead, but just a minute later, the 99ers potted what would prove to be the game-winner.
Down by two, the Kings made it close on a goal by Kurtis Goodwin (Cameron, McBay) before opting to pull netminder Rhett Kimmel with two minutes to go. It was no good, however, as Brantford scored the empty-netter to seal the 5-3 win.
It was a different story a few days later, as Elmira scored early and often in a Sunday win over the visiting Kitchener Dutchmen. It turned out to be a chippy affair, with a 17 offenses called, including four misconduts.
“I thought it was a great game for us. It was an excellent bounce-back game after a not-so-good showing against Brantford. We got to how we want to play with speed and with intensity; that was a great game for the Sugar Kings,” said Brown.
The tone of the match was set from the get-go, with Kitchener receiving a warm-up violation going in. Then, just four minutes into the first frame, the team was hit with a boarding violation, with more penalties on both sides following.
Ryan Takamatsu got things rolling on the scoreboard at 4:32, scoring the first of what would be a natural hat trick on the power play. Harrison Toms and Cameron drew the assists. He picked up his second less than five minutes later (Matt Murray, Goodwin).
The intermission didn’t slow Takamatsu, who landed the third at 6:11 (Toms, Cameron). It was the only Elmira goal of the middle frame, but Tyler Mazzocato’s shutout bid was ended just seconds before the buzzer. The teams went back to the room with Elmira up 3-1.
“He was playing great, said Brown about Takamatsu. “He was flying, he was putting the pucks on net and I give credit to our defense to get that puck up to him, and his linemates getting him the puck.”
Coming back out for the third, the Kings had no intention of letting off the throttle, scoring twice. At 6:29, Mason McMahon (Goodwin) potted the team’s fourth. Finally, with three minutes to go and Kitchener’s net empty, Jordan ran the puck down the ice for the final point of the match. McBay got the assist.
“[The game went] pretty well, and we had a pretty strong start and that obviously leads into a good second and third. I was happy with our team’s effort there,” said Takamatsu, speaking after the game.
The Kings are on the road in Listowel Friday night to take on the Cyclones, the team sitting in first place with a record of 14-3. At 9-8, the Kings are currently in third place behind Stratford (13-2).
“We got a tough one next Friday against Listowel, and we’ve had some trouble with them this year, but hopefully we can come back and give them a good game on Friday,” said Takamatsu.
“Listowel’s going to be tough, they always are,” said Brown. “They’re an excellent team. They’re on top, so we’re shooting for them. We’re going to have a good week of practices here coming off a big win against Kitchener at home, and just hoping to keep that speed, that pace.”
The Kings return home Sunday night to take on the Brampton Bombers (6-9). Game time at the WMC is 7 p.m.