There wasn’t much rust on the Elmira Sugar Kings as they emerged from a two-week Christmas break to win a pair of games at home, extending their win streak to four.
Saturday night’s game at the WMC saw the team skate past Waterloo for a 5-2 victory, while Sunday night’s match against Brantford needed overtime en route to a 4-3 final score.
The first of two wins came January 6 against the Waterloo Siskins, with home cooking still on the menu and hitting the spot. The two points gave the Kings a bit of breathing room in the standings.
“We are three points ahead of them, but they have three games in hand on us. We are really vying for that third-place spot,” said head coach Trent Brown. “With Waterloo, we want to beat them head-to-head as much as we can – those are four-point games, essentially. We are getting down to it with 13 games left. We have them three more times, so winning those head-to-head games are going to be very important for us to solidify that third-place spot.”
Elmira’s Ethan Skinner scored the first of the game from Karson Massey and Jeremey Goodwin at 14:10. Followed by a goal from Zach Cameron at 18:43 from Tyler Beauparlant and Ethan Wiseman.
It was 2-0 for the home team going into the first intermission.
A penalty early in the second saw Waterloo take advantage of the shorthanded Kings with a goal at 3:13 to bring the score to 2-1, which is where things would stand through 40 minutes.
The visitors needed just 38 seconds to knot the score at 2-2 as the third period got rolling, but Elmira responded in short order when Wiseman scored his 15th of the season at 1:19, from Cameron and Beauparlant to put the Kings up 3-2. That would prove to be the game winner.
Cameron got his second of the game while killing a penalty, the shorthanded marker assisted by Tyler Biles at 5:16.
Before the end of the frame, Jeremey Goodwin extended the lead to 5-2 at 12:03 from Skinner and Wiseman.
Sunday evening brought a bit more excitement to the Dan Snyder Arena, where the Kings needed double overtime to defeat the Brantford 99ers.
The Kings have had no experience with overtime this season going into Sunday’s game.
“It took 37 games for us to go to overtime this year, so we had to kind of remind these guys what the rules are, how we want to play in the defensive zone and where we can cheat offense because they haven’t seen that this year. For some of these guys it has been almost a year [since they] had this experience, but happy to say that we are undefeated in overtime this year,” Brown said.
Brantford’s Hunter Dubecki had the only goal of the opening period, scoring at 16:13.
Elmira’s Ryan Takamatsu found the back of the net on the power play, from Skinner and Wiseman at 11:01 into the second to tie the score at 1-1.
The third is where the game got interesting, however, seeing Branford score another at 0:24 to take the lead.
Cameron scored his first of the game, from Skinner and Wiseman at 16:01 to tie it back up.
Only two minutes later defenseman Braydon Munn scored the Kings second power-play goal of the game from Wiseman and Skinner, to take the lead.
“Special teams – we can chalk it up to what’s making us successful [Sunday],” said Brown. “We really nailed down again what needed to be executed on the power play. We had two power-play goals in four attempts, and we only gave Brantford one power play – that’s going to be huge for us moving forward.”
It looked like the Kings were well on their way to a second win of the weekend … until Brantford pulled their goalie, and used the extra attacker to tie it back up with only 34 seconds left to play.
So it was off to overtime. Goaltender Tyler Mazzacato held the fort through four-on-four play right through to the second of double overtime until Elmira’s Cameron scored his fourth of the weekend, from Spencer Comelli, 3:15 in to give the Kings the win.
“It is really nice to see him heating up, and he is going to be a big key for us going down the back half here,” Brown said of Cameron, who has six points in the last four games. “He is a guy with great offensive instincts.”
After the weekend, the Kings (21-16) are currently sitting in third place in the Midwestern Conference. With only 13 games left in the regular season, any and all points are crucial.
The Kings head to Stratford for a 7:30 p.m. start tomorrow (Friday), before returning home to take on Brampton Sunday evening, when the puck drops at 7 p.m.