Kings take two of three in another busy weekend

Elmira posts first win of the season against Waterloo, while losing for the first time to Brampton

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There was plenty to celebrate at Saturday’s home game against the Waterloo Siskins, as the Kings edged out the visitors 3-2. With both teams having played 27 games, the Kings are one point ahead of the Siskins in the standings, holding third place. [Faisal Ali /The Observer]

You win some, you lose some. Even those where the results were expected to go the other way. Such was the weekend for the Elmira Sugar Kings, who finally beat the Waterloo Siskins, but dropped one of their two games against a team they’d been undefeated against, the Brampton Bombers.

The sole defeat came as the weekend got underway, a 4-2 loss in Brampton. Elmira returned home to beat the Siskins 3-2 the following night, then exacted a bit of revenge on the Bombers in a 5-4 win at the WMC that needed two overtimes to settle.

The mixed-bag came after the Kings learned they’d lost the services of young newcomer Brody Waters, out indefinitely with an injury.Playing 19 games this season, Waters proved a formidable addition to the roster, picking up eight goals and 15 assists. Head coach Trent Brown said he was hoping that Waters might join with the team again in the new year.

“It’s kind of indefinite right now. Probably not ’til the new year, but we’ll see,” he said

Friday night in Brampton was nothing like an ordinary night for the visiting Kings, as the Elmira contingent had an uncharacteristically difficult time with what should have been an easy two points.

“They’re a hardworking team, and they pushed us and pushed us, and we didn’t have a lot of fight back. We took it to them a little bit early, but they capitalized on their power play and we didn’t,” said Brown.“We had one goal and they had one goal, but we had five opportunities to bury them and we couldn’t. And unfortunately there were just some mental lapses and getting out-worked, and they took it to us there.”

The game got off to a lethargic start, with neither side able to score in the first.

The second saw a bit more action, though, with each team picking up one before the second intermission. Brampton found the back of the net first, six minutes in, spelling the start of a slow-moving coup against the previously indomitable Kings. At every other one of their previous meetings, the Kings had trounced the Bombers, including by a 9-1 spread in November.

But last Friday it looked like Elmira would be heading into third scoreless until, with just a minute left in the period, Jeremey Goodwin knotted things up at 1-1 on the power play. Picking up the assists were Kurtis Goodwin and Hunter Dubecki.

The final stanza saw Elmira’s fortunes improve, if only briefly. One minute from the drop of the puck, Dubecki (James Valente)potted the Kings’ second, putting them up 2-1. But it was all downhill from there as Brampton put up another three on the board before the buzzer,including a power play marker and a empty-netter, to hand the visitors a 4-2 loss.

Falling to the lowest-ranked team in the Midwestern Conference division the night before, the Kings did an impressive about-face the next day as they took on the visiting Siskins. Perhaps it was the home crowd that provided them the edge, but the Kings pulled off a tight 3-2 victory against the visiting team, with the deciding goal coming late in the third.

“That was a fun game, I really enjoyed being a part of that game. Waterloo is always a battle; it has been for years and years,” said Brown.

Again, the first proved to be scoreless, though this time it was probably for the best. Waterloo out shot the home team 13-5 in the first 20 minutes (29-27 for the entire match), with Elmira playing catch-up in the remaining two frames.

The second saw the Siskins put up two goals before the Kings could react. The first came less than 30 seconds in, followed by a power play marker at 6:44. Tyson Hillier (Zack Cameron, Dubecki) responded  minutes later, followed by a knotting shot from Anthony Azzano (Tyson Hillier, Isaac Taylor).

The score sat at an even 2-2 for the final 20 minutes of play. Elmira was now on the offensive, firing off twice as many shots as they received; and eventually, one of those shots found its mark. Coming off the stick of Ty Biles (Jakson Kirk, Azzano) with five minutes left on the clock, the goal proved to be a winner, settling the match 3-2 in the Kings’ favour.

Sunday, the Kings had a shot at redemption as the invited the Bombers for a matinee game on home ice. But though the Kings ultimately clinched the victory, the Bombers gave them a run for their money.Brampton held the lead over Elmira on three separate occasions, and never once fell behind until the second overtime.

The final score was  5-4 for Elmira after an additional eight-and-a-half minutes of play.

The visitors were the first to score on Sunday, with Brampton’s  Marcus Didiano potting one on a shorthanded play just five minutes in.

Brock McKenzie (Luke Israel) knotted things up midway through the frame, but the Kings were again put on notice when Brampton’s Andrew Reynolds put the puck into the net unassisted, just 47 seconds from the buzzer.

The shots on net were staggeringly off in this game,with Elmira shooting 16 times in the first and scoring just once, versus Brampton shooting just three times in the frame and scoring twice. Final shots on net were a lopsided 43-18 for Elmira.

The Bombers went into the first intermission with a 2-1 advantage, but were quickly matched by Cameron (Dubecki, Hillier) just 17 seconds into the next frame. The jubilation was short-lived, however, as the Kings let another point slip past – this time a shorthanded, unassisted marker from Brampton’s Ivan Brewer at 1:29.

The Bombers potted a final goal minutes from the second intermission, ending the frame with a 4-2 lead.

The third saw the Kings claw back into the game,potting two more goals before the period was out. Cameron (Ty Biles, K.Goodwin) made it a one-point game at 1:19, and Hillier (Dubecki, Cameron) made it 4-4 at 8:38, forcing the teams into overtime.

The first five minutes proved scoreless, but Cameron(Damian Figueira) was able find the net for a third time that night in the second round of extended play, giving the win to the Kings.

Special teams were a considerable factor in this game,with Brampton securing two goals while down a man, though neither side scored on the power play, with Elmira getting seven opportunities and Brampton four.

“That’s not something we’ve seen a lot from our power plays,” said Brown. “Historically this season, we’ve had a very potent power play, but this weekend was definitely one where the other teams gained momentum on us on it, instead of the other way around.”

After two back-to-back three-game weekends, the Kings will have some respite this week with a single matinee on home ice Sunday at 2 p.m. Facing the Kings, however, will be the second-place team in the conference,the Listowel Cyclones.