There are some weeks in the Junior B schedule when the competition is relentless, with the games coming back-to-back or even three in as many days. Then there are those stretches were the team is afforded some downtime between games.
This week fell into the latter category for the Sugar Kings, as the Elmira team faced just one challenger, the Brantford 99ers, in a Sunday night game on home ice.
Despite running into plenty of penalty trouble – 56 minutes on 16 infractions – the Kings had relatively little trouble en route to a comfortable 5-2 victory.
Elmira opened the scoring, with the first goal coming about midway through the first period off of the stick of Jakson Kirk. Kurtis Goodwin and Mason McMahon picked up assists on the play.
It would be the lone point of the frame, but entering into the second, the Kings kept the pressure on. Tyson Hillier (Brock McKenzie, K. Goodwin) buried the team’s second of the match just three minutes in, and Jonah Burley (Kirk, Anthony Azzano) quickly followed up with a third on the power play.
Brantford responded at the 15-minute mark, finally getting on the board, and then found their mark for a second time on the power play with two minutes left in the frame.
The game was now a one-point affair, the Kings ahead 3-2 as the final 20 minutes rolled into focus. Brantford was now uncomfortably close on Elmira’s heels – despite being second-last in the standings with a record of 4-16-1), the 99ers were looking for a win over the fourth-place Kings (12-4-0-3), and on Elmira’s turf, no less.
Perhaps feeling the heat, the Kings locked down the 99ers offense, while burying a few more into the opposing net for good measure. Ty Biles came in for the team’s fourth goal less than three minutes into the third, with Kirk and Hunter Dubecki providing the assists.
The board remained frozen in place at 4-2 until the dying minutes of the game, when the 99ers pulled their netminder for the extra attacker. The traditional gambit backfired, however, as the open net was easy pickings for Elmira’s Zack Cameron (Biles, Harrison Toms), who made it 5-2 at 17:27.
A dust-up broke out a minute later, sending a player from each team to an early shower, while Elmira lost two more to a roughing infraction, and Brantford one more for the same.
None of the changed the scoreboard, however.
Power plays provided each team with a single point on the man-advantage. Elmira scored once on five chances, while Brantford went 1-9.
Having faced three teams the previous week – Listowel, Brampton and Kitchener – the Kings had a much easier time of it, the single game of the week coming as a bit of a relief.
That said, the Kings will have to conserve their strength as they head into the coming weekend. On Saturday, the they’ll be at the Galt arena in Cambridge for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Redhawks. The day after, the Kings will be on home ice for another 7 p.m. meeting against the Listowel Cyclones.
The Kings have had a solid record against the Cambridge contingent (formerly the Guelph Hurricanes) this season; however, at their most recent match on October 28, the Elmira team only just managed to squeak by with a 2-1 victory. Listowel will prove to be the greater challenge. The Kings bested the first place team in the league (15-3-0-2) in their first meeting of the season last week, but only just, with a 3-2 decision settled in overtime.
This weekend will give the Kings a chance to prove their chops for a second time against the top dogs of the Midwestern Conference.