It wasn’t the weekend the Kings were hoping for, winning just once in three tries. An overtime win against Brantford was offset by continued futility against Stratford and Kitchener.
Playing first in Stratford November 30, the Kings dropped a 3-2 decision despite some late-game hustle. The day after in Brantford, the team eked out a narrow 2-1 victory settled in double overtime. Sunday’s home match saw the Kings fall 4-0 to the visiting Kitchener Dutchmen.
Halfway through the season, the Elmira team finds itself in third place in the Midwestern Conference with a record of 15-6-0-3, comfortably in line for a playoff appearance that they have to hope doesn’t include the two teams they lost to last weekend. The Kings have yet to beat either Stratford or Kitchener this season.
Against the other top teams in the conference – first-place Waterloo and fourth-place Listowel – the Kings have won every match.
“When we play them, it boils down to them working hard enough,” said head coach Trent Brown on the Kings’ inability to best Stratford or Kitchener yet.
“I wouldn’t say that there’s anything really outlying there, that there’s one thing that’s different, other than the work. It seems every time we play them, we put our skill before our work and we don’t manage the puck that well. And you’re not going to have a lot of happy nights when you do that.”
Battling the Stratford Warriors at the their arena last Friday night, the Sugar Kings ceded the first 20 minutes of play to the home team before making their mark. Stratford was up two points by the first intermission, their first goal coming 11 minutes into the frame.
The Kings responded 9:32 into the second, with a short-handed marker off the stick of Kurtis Goodwin (Damian Figueira, Mason McMahon) putting the Kings within one. Stratford responded with a power play of their own less than a minute later, however, making it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
The third saw the Kings struggle to find their momentum. A late goal from Jonah Burley (Mason McMahon, Hunter Dubecki) made it 3-2, but Elmira was unable to rally for a comeback. The game ended that way.
The following day saw the Kings travel to Brantford, where they clinched a narrow 2-1 victory after an extra nine minutes of play. The goals were few and far between in this game, with Elmira unable to capitalize on the many chances indicative of outshooting the home team 43-17.
Elmira’s Jonah Burley (Zack Cameron) found the back of the net first, putting the Kings up 1-0 about halfway through the opening frame. It would be the only point for the next half-hour of play, with the second frame completely scoreless.
The action ramped up again 13 minutes into the final stanza when Brantford knotted the game 1-1 on a power play. Neither side could break the tie in the final seven minutes of play, forcing both teams to settle the difference in overtime. But even one overtime was not enough.
The deciding goal came in second overtime, again off the stick of Goodwin (Harrison Toms, Hunter Dubecki).
After the previous night’s game in Stratford, Goodwin could easily have been declared Elmira’s MVP of the week. The young forward had personally put up half of the Elmira goals over the weekend, including the game-winner against Brantford.
“He’s a coach’s dream,” said Brown of the now-seasoned Goodwin, who is playing his second year with the Kings. “Last year as a rookie, he won our best defensive forward award on our team, and that to me speaks volumes about his reliability and his maturity in his game.”
But while Stratford’s game was close, and Brantford’s closer still, Elmira’s final game of the week proved to be a complete wash. Playing host to the visiting Kitchener Dutchmen December 2, the Kings found themselves on the short end of a 4-0 final score.
The first frame saw plenty of action, but no scoring. The second 20 minutes of play, however, was all Kitchener, with the first goal coming four minutes in, and the second following two minutes after that. Outshot 15-3 in the period (33-21 overall), the Kings were perhaps luck to go into the intermission down just 2-0.
The final frame was much less chippy, but just as disappointing, as the Kings let in two more goals while failing to put any on the board themselves. The final score was a stinging 4-0 rebuke for the home team.
Elmira could take some solace in its penalty killing, as the Dutchmen were 0-7 on the power play, though the Kings also put up a goose egg with the man advantage on five occasions.
With a three-game weekend behind them, the Kings will have little time to recuperate as they head into another busy weekend this week.
On Friday, the Kings will be in Brampton at 7:30 p.m. for the first two games against the Bombers. Saturday will see the Kings return to the Woolwich arena to welcome the Waterloo Siskins, again at 7:30 p.m. Finally, on Sunday the Kings will again face the Bombers, this time in a 2 p.m. matinee on home ice.