What started out as a good weekend with a 5-0 win in Brantford turned as quickly as the recent weather when the Elmira Sugar Kings fell 5-1 the following day in Waterloo. It was their biggest loss to the Siskins this season, and the third in a row to the neighbouring team.
With just ten games left in the season, the Kings will need to start laying into the top teams – Stratford, Waterloo and Kitchener – if they hope to be competitive in the playoffs.
The Kings’ weekend started on a high, however, as they handed another loss to the hapless Brantford 99ers (10-27-1-2), burying the puck five times while keeping the opposition at bay through 60 minutes. Special teams were a key part of the win, as the Kings struck four times on the power play.
Though the Sugar Kings have consistently outperformed the 99ers this season, earning two shutouts, they couldn’t get cocky. Their previous meeting saw the teams play to a 3-3 draw that not even an additional two overtimes could solve.
So there may have been a collective sigh of relief from the Elmira side when the goals started to accumulate. Tyson Hillier (Ivan Brewer, Jakson Kirk) broke ice with the first of the match, 12:32 into the frame, and from there the points kept coming. A second goal was buried four minutes later courtesy of Jonah Burley (Anthony Azzano, Hunter Dubecki) on the power play to make it 2-0 by the first intermission.
The second played out same as the first in this game, with the Kings putting up another two goals in 20 minutes, both on the power play. Azzano (Dubecki) fired off a dinger at 7:10 with the man advantage, and Brewer followed up minutes later for another, with Burley and Azzano getting assists.
The scoreboard read 4-0 for the visitors when the final frame opened, and the Kings were looking for a shutout: the Elmira contingent went on the defensive, but nonetheless saw another point added to the board when Harrison Toms (Damian Figueira, Kurtis Goodwin) slotted the final power play marker of the match at 9:15.
The final score read 5-0 Kings, earning Elmira netminder Mat Woroniuk his first shutout of the season.
Penalty trouble appeared to be the 99ers’ biggest hurdle, as the Kings were given 10 man advantages to work with, and scored on four. The Kings in turn had seven penalty kills over the game, and locked down all of them.
Knocking out the 99ers Saturday with little difficulty, the Kings hit a dead zone the following afternoon in Waterloo. The roles were almost reversed from the night before, with the home team running ahead to a clear victory and the visitors struggling to put up a fight.
Waterloo made it 1-0 in the first five minutes of play, and added a second to the board at the 18-minute mark for a 2-0 spread by the first intermission.
The second saw Elmira make a small comeback, but not before the Siskins potted their third point just over three minutes from the drop. Mason McMahon (Harrison Toms, Damian Figueira) put the Kings on the board just one minute later to make it 3-1, but the visitors couldn’t work the momentum to make it a closer game.
The board stayed frozen in place for the remainder of the frame, and when the next goal came, it was again off a Waterloo stick.
Just nine seconds into the final frame, the Siskins created a three-point chasm by going up 4-1. With the minutes counting down, the Kings pulled Woroniuk for the additional firepower, but instead saw a fifth goal knocked into their net to end the game as a 5-1 loss.
With the playoffs now on the horizon, moving up in the standings becomes more pressing. The Kings have six points on the table this weeked as they take on three teams in as many days. They’ll have to compete without a home crowd to back them up, however, as all three games will be on the road.
On Friday night, the Elmira team will be in Stratford for a 7:30 p.m. match against the first-place team in the Midwestern Conference. The following evening, the Kings will be at the Galt arena to take on the Cambridge Redhawks. And on Sunday the Kings will have a shot at some comeuppance as they face off against the Waterloo Siskins in a 1:30 p.m. matinee.
The Kings remain on the road as curling has taken over the Woolwich Memorial Centre, where the provincials culminate Saturday and Sunday with the finals for the women’s and men’s games, respectively.