It was a clash of the Waterloo Region teams this weekend in Elmira, as the Sugar Kings took on challengers from the newly formed Cambridge Redhawks on Sunday. Setting the tone early in the 2018-19 season, the Kings clipped the wings of their opponents via an 8-2 win, picking up two points in the lone game of the week.
The win puts the Kings at 2-1 just two weeks into the new season.
“I think we have a great blend of players this year,” said head coach Trent Brown. “We’re complementary for skills and also personalities. They seem like a pretty tight-knit group already, so it’s been great to see.”
Opening the shooting gallery Sunday night was the Elmira contingent, potting the first goal of the match 10 minutes in. Luke Israel found the back of the Redhawks’ net, with Brock McKenzie and Jonah Burley picking up assists.
The one-point lead became two points when Isaac Taylor (Tyson Hillier, Anthony Azzano) sent a second puck into the back of the Redhawks’ net at 14:30.
Cambridge quickly responded with their first point, a power play marker, rounding out the scoring for the first 20 minutes.
It was 2-1 when the teams came back on the ice for the second frame, and the Kings quickly widened the gap. Jakson Kirk (Israel) potted Elmira’s third just 37 seconds into the frame. Hunter Dubecki (Isaac Taylor, Damian Figueira) came next at the 5:40 mark for a fourth, and Kirk (Brody Waters) got his second of the match at 11:39 to make it 5-1.
The Kings took that four-goal cushion into the room for the second intermission.
“Our scouting and management did fantastic job picking up these guys and recruiting them this year,” said Brock. “Guys like Brody Waters, Jakson Kirk, Tyson Hillier, they have a lot of upside even though they are still relatively young and green. But they’re contributing right away, and not necessarily always on the score sheet.”
The final frame saw the Redhawks add one more goal to the board before the game was out, but it was not nearly enough to make things competitive – the Kings retaliated with three more goals. Burley (Hillier, Mason McMahon) came in for another power play marker at 11 minutes. McKenzie (Kirk) returned a second volley just second later. And rounding out the scoring, Ty Biles (Hillier, Burley) added a final marker on another power play, ending the game on at 8-2.
As they did on the scoreboard, the Kings beat out Cambridge with the man advantage, capitalizing on two of six chances, while the visitors were 1-6.
With a decided win, the Kings are set to return to the Cambridge Galt arena this coming Saturday for rematch at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the Kings will be back on home ice to greet the visiting Brampton Bombers. The puck drops again at 7 p.m.
After a 4-0 loss to Kitchener on opening night, the Kings bounced back to win the next two games.
“I think so far, it’s been working pretty well for us,” said Brown of his team’s cohesiveness. “We had one little hiccup there, in our first game, where Kitchener took it to us a little bit. But since then our guys have been quite dedicated in their craft for, not even just games, but dry land and practices have been very high tempo and a lot of energy.”
The Dutchmen are still the team to beat, however, and Brown is hoping to give the rivals a run for their money at their next meeting on October 7.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Our outlook is that we can win every game. You know, you’re not going to always have success, you’re not always get two points on the board. But we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”
Formerly the Guelph Hurricanes, the team returned to its roots in Cambridge and rebranded as the Redhawks. The team will be playing out of the Galt Arena Gardens. (Another Cambridge club, the Winter Hawks, dropped out of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League in 2017.)