In his fourth and final year with the Elmira Sugar Kings, Ethan Skinner is approaching some scoring milestones only a few have ever reached before.
Over his career, Skinner has scored 96 goals and 136 assists during the regular season to bring his overall points to 232. Having played 176 games in a Kings sweater, the 5’9”, 180-pound forward is averaging 1.3 points per games. Those numbers put him close to the all-time top three with the junior B club.
The fourth-year King’s résumé includes winning the Sutherland and Cherrey cups, two Midwestern Conference offensive player of the month awards and Second-Team All-Star slot.
“He is without a doubt the most dangerous offensive weapon in the league,” said head coach Trent Brown of Skinner. “He is so dangerous with and without the puck. Every time he is on the ice he is a threat.”
Brown has been part of the Kings’ staff for the entirety of Skinner’s career; he knows the ins and outs of number 9’s play. The coach sees a number of factors contributing to Skinner’s offensive prowess.
“What makes him successful is, one, his skating ability; two is the way that he pursues the puck. Whether that player on the other team has full possession of it or it’s a loose puck, I haven’t seen anybody better at this level hunt pucks,” said Brown. “He is a guy that you rely on in those important minutes of the game, whether you need a goal or you need to stop the other team – he is just an elite competitor.
“He knows what it takes to win.”
Skinner started with the Kings in the 2014/2015 season where, despite an injury, he still managed to come back and score a hat trick during the team’s Cherrey Cup-winning game. Having seen the athlete progress, the coach fondly remembers Skinner’s early years.
“He was a young kid – we had him when he was a 17-year-old rookie – and he was a very great player for us as a young impactful player from the start. I just remember playing against LaSalle and winning the Cherrey Cup at home here; he had just come off of an injury, but he wanted nothing but to get back into the game,” Brown said, noting that despite the depth of their roster, Skinner was always a prominent player.
“We were a very, very deep team that year in 14/15. I mean, you go down the list of guys that really helped us out in the playoffs there upfront we were pretty loaded, but he found a way to contribute every night. Every time he was on the ice, he might have been one of our most consistent players, but his smarts – again going back to his elite competitiveness, that really helped him early on in his junior career.”
Skinner calls Kincardine his hometown, however he has lived in Elmira for nearly a quarter of his life. Having been scouted in midget by the Kings, he felt the team fit the bill right from the start.
“They showed the most interest throughout the year, it felt like a good fit. I came here to watch a couple of games and meet everyone and you could just tell right away that it stood out from most other places,” he said of his original courtship by the Kings.
As a 20-year-old this is his last year with the Kings. Now a lone ranger as the only player on the roster who has stuck around since his rookie season, he has earned his veteran status, including an ‘A’ on his jersey.
“It has been a huge part of my life up to this point,” he said. “It’s just been cool to go through it all with different guys. Winning twice has been pretty special so far and hopefully we can win again this year – it’s hard to do it back to back but we are going to try.”
Looking back at what has led him to this point, there have been a few in those hundreds of points that have stuck out to him, primarily his hat trick in the Cherrey Cup finals in his rookie year.
“My first year here we won the league and in the last game to win it, I got a hat trick,” he reminisced. “It was like the arena was full, and my first year I missed the first two rounds because I snapped a tendon in my ankle, but I came back in for the final. We were pretty dominant and then we got to win at home, which was special, and I luckily got three goals.”
Fast forward to last year and Skinner could be found hoisting the coveted Sutherland Cup.
Despite the success he has found individually with the team, it is apparent with the athlete that it is those who he got to share the success with that have made his career with the Kings memorable.
“From the first year to last year there has been a lot of guys. There were only three of us who played here my first year, so it was a big change in the players, and to be able to win everything with those other two guys, it was pretty special. I was a rookie from the start and we went through everything together,” he said, noting that now he is the only one of the three left.
Although he says this year’s team has had a tough first half of the season, they aren’t ready to give up hope just yet. They’re still hoping for a repeat of last year’s success.
So what does the 20-year-old have to do to break into the all-time top three? He has 17 games left in the regular season to score four goals and ten assists respectively to join the exclusive groups. If he does either, he will join that list. More so if he does both.
Looking ahead at the schedule – he’s had games of three or more points against Brampton, Stratford and Brantford already this season – it seems the odds are in his favour.