Five goals didn’t do the trick in Stratford, but were more than enough when the Elmira Sugar Kings returned home to face Brantford.
The team bounced back from a 6-5 midweek loss to the Warriors to post a 5-2 win over the 99ers Sunday afternoon at the WMC.
Heading into Stratford January 24, the Kings certainly had their work cut out for them as they took on the current second-place team in the Midwestern Conference. It was a make-up game for a January 12 meeting cancelled due to wintry weather conditions.
Things started well for the Kings. Opening the scoring was Ethan Skinner with a power play marker, assisted by Braydon Munn and Ryan Takamatsu, about 15 minutes into the first. It was the sole scoring play of the period.
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The Warriors answered two minutes into the second, knotting things up 1-1. But just a few minutes later, the Kings hit back again, with Zack Cameron (Ty Biles, Ethan Wiseman) putting the visitors up 2-1.
If Elmira had been dominating up until this point, the next ten minutes would see the momentum swing wildly back to the Warriors. At 5:25, just 30 seconds after the Kings potted their second of the match, the Warriors retaliated with the tying goal.
In the next ten minutes, the Warriors scored two more power plays goals, putting them up 4-2. The frame was fast drawing to a close, but with exactly 15 seconds left on the clock, Matt MacKay (Munn, Biles) made it a one-goal game again.
It was 4-3 as the players entered into the final 20 minutes of play, and the pucks began to fly. Less than two minutes in, the Warriors were able to capitalize on the man-advantage from the previous frame. At 7:15, the team scored again.
With 13 minutes on the clock, the game was now at 6-3 in favour of the home team. From here, the Kings made their final push.
Newcomer Marcel Berube put one on the board for the Sugar Kings, with Alex Peterson and Cameron picking up the assist, and just five minutes of game time to go. The clock was down to 51 seconds when Munn (Jeremey Goodwin, Biles) found the back of the net with a final power play marker, bringing the Kings to within spitting distance of their opponents.
It was again a one-point match, but despite some final attempts by the Kings, the game ended in a 6-5 loss.
Still smarting from a near victory, the Kings had an opportunity to make it up on Sunday in their home game against the Brantford 99ers. And despite dropping the lead in first two frames, Elmira shone through in the final 20 minutes for a string of goals to end the game on a 5-2 high. The final goal, a short-handed lob from across the arena into an empty net, was just the cherry on top.
The game didn’t begin all that well for the Kings though, as Brantford took the lead not once but twice. There would be no scoring in the first 20 minutes of game time, and it was not until just over four minutes into the second that Brantford claimed the first of the match.
Barely half-a-minute later, Elmira’s Jake Burton responded, with Karson Massey picking up the assist, tying the game 1-1. It was an even race for but a moment, however, as the 99ers scored again at 6:18 on a power play.
The scoreboard would remain frozen in place for the remainder of the second period, with the 99ers in a precarious 2-1 lead.
But coming back for that final stanza of the game, the Kings seemed to have been shaken into a frenzy. Just one minute in, Takamatsu potted the second knotting puck, putting the Kings back on an even footing with their opponents.
“It was nice to be able to contribute,” said Takamatsu after the game. “I know we were kind of struggling early in the game. I thought we dominated but, you know, were struggling to put pucks in the net.”
Picking up the assists were Damian Figueira, another new player on the team, and Skinner, whom Takamatsu credits for the goal.
“Skinner made an unbelievable pass to me in the slot and I just kind of slapped it home from the nice slot there, so it was nice that it went in,” he said.
The game-winning goal came flying shortly after from Berube on the power play, with Munn and Skinner again picking up the assist.
“Oh, yeah, Skinner’s a great player,” agreed Berube. “He’s easy to play with, so I just try to get open for him.”
Now in the lead, the Kings hustled to put some distance between them and the Brantford team. At 9:26, Matt MacKay (Kurtis Goodwin) found the back of the net.
The Kings were up 4-2 over the 99ers, and as the minutes counted down Brantford pulled the goalie for some last-minute firepower. With an extra attacker on ice, and the Kings down a man to the box, the 99ers hoped to overwhelm their opposition. Instead, Skinner cleared the puck out of their end and sent it straight across the ice into the empty net to finish things off at 5-2.
With another month until the playoffs and seven more games on the calendar, the Kings have plenty of time still to add some polish to their game and gel the new additions to the team. Up next weekend, the team will be playing two away games, first on Friday in Brampton against the Bombers, followed by a Saturday match in Waterloo against the Siskins. The puck drop in both cases is at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve had success against those two teams, so we just got to keep rolling and keep playing well, and hopefully we’ll get the two points from both games,” said Takamatsu.