The Elmira Sugar Kings were bona fide road warriors last weekend, winning three games in three cities in as many days. Two of those victories were over teams ahead of them in standings – Waterloo and Stratford – while the other came at Cambridge’s expense.
Their winning ways landed the Kings in fourth place in the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference.
“We’ll take three wins,” said head coach Rob Collins. “I don’t know if we did anything differently – we just did what we’ve been working on a little better than we have in the past. There wasn’t a whole lot of different strategy of game-play or strategy other than just go outwork them. The team stepped up and played very, very well.”
Last Friday’s game in Stratford got off to a relatively quiet start save for a few penalties dished out on both sides, with no scoring from either team.
The second stanza proved to be a little more eventful, with Jonah Burley getting Elmira on the board while taking advantage of a power play five minutes in. Anthony Azzano and Hunter Dubecki picked up assists. This would be the only goal of the frame, giving the Kings the advantage heading into the third.
While there was a little roughhousing, the scoreboard remained unchanged throughout the majority of the period. Feeling the pressure of the final minutes winding down without any goals, the Warriors decided to pull their goalie for an extra attacker. This strategy backfired, however, making the empty net easy pickings for Jakson Kirk (Mason McMahon) at 17:24.
The final score was 2-0 Kings, as Mat Woroniuk posted a shutout in stopping all 24 shots on net.
The win gave Elmira some momentum headed into their second matchup against Redhawks the following day in Cambridge.
Despite 62 combined shots on net split between both teams, just one goal was scored throughout the 60 minutes. It came in the third period off the stick of Jeremey Goodwin at 2:57, with Damien Figueira and Jacob Black picking up assists.
“It was nice for Jeremey Goodwin to get back on the score sheet,” said Collins. “If he keeps going offensively, that’s only going to help us.”
The goal stood for a 1-0 Elmira win. This time, the shutout went to Rhett Kimmel. Cambridge did give a solid effort, outshooting the Kings 34-28.
Sunday’s match in Waterloo saw the most action. McMahon wasted no time getting on the board, taking advantage of a power play at 2:30. Harrison Toms and Goodwin picked up assists. Waterloo wasn’t going down without a fight, however, responding at 14:08 to tie the game as the teams went back to their rooms for intermission.
Dubecki scored another early goal for the Kings at 1:40, with Toms and Goodwin grabbing assists. That secured a lead for the Kings that they never relinquished.
“Hunter Dubecki has been very consistent for us,” said Collins. “His work ethic is phenomenal. He’s a very valuable piece to the formula of winning for us, for sure.”
Goodwin (Dubecki, Azzano) scored another goal for good measure at 12:26 on a power play, before Waterloo responded on a power play in the final moments of the frame at 19:51.
“In the second period, they definitely elevated their play,” said Collins. “And then we got a good win out of that one.”
McMahon (Kurtis Goodwin, Kirk) potted another goal in the third at 6:23. The last went to Ivan Brewer at 15:37, who managed to step in front of a pass, chip it out to himself, beat the tender to the puck and circle around for a shorthanded, unassisted goal. It wrapped up the game with a 5-2 win.
“For all the fans that are looking for an exciting brand of hockey, I think that’s what the teams are putting forth right now,” said Collins. “So if you want to come down and enjoy a hockey game at your local arena please do. We think you’ll be pleased with the performance you see.”
Kings fans can check out the next home game Sunday (February 10) at the WMC where the team will be facing off against Brantford. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.