The Sugar Kings ended the regular season on a less than stellar note over the weekend, falling on Friday in Listowel 4-1 to the home team, and again on Saturday in Cambridge (4-3), but were able rebound with a decisive win on Tuesday in their first game of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The losses to end the season saw the Kings finish in fifth place in the Midwestern Conference with a record of 26-15-2-4 for 58 points, three points behind Kitchener, which earned home-ice advantage to start the season.
Battling the Dutchmen in the city for game one of the best-of-seven series, the Kings stormed through the competition with little difficulty, securing a big lead early that they would never relinquish en route to a 5-2 final score.
The first goal came less than three minutes into the game off the stick of Hunter Dubecki (Ivan Brewer), putting the Kings on the board early. The one point lead became a two point spread before the frame’s end when Junior C Wingham Ironmen forward Matthew Tolton (Ty Biles, Jacob Black) potted point number two at 14:10.
The intermission did little to cool off the Kings’ hot steak, and seven minutes in Zack Cameron made it a 3-0 game with an unassisted marker. Anthony Azzano (Kurtis Goodwin, Jakson Kirk) completed the scoring frenzy with point number four at 14:19, setting the Kings on the right side of a 4-0 chasm with less than half the match to go.
It was at this point that the Dutchmen rallied, picking up the next two goals, one with the man advantage, before the second intermission.
It was 4-2 as the teams stepped back onto the ice for the final 20, and the Dutchmen were not looking good. Unable to capitalize on the momentum of the earlier frame to make a game of it, the Kitchener team instead saw themselves slip further behind when Brewer potted another point for the Kings, unassisted, at 11:27.
With a three-goal lead with less than nine minutes to go in the game, the Kings had to do little more than run out the clock for the win.
Taking game one on the road this week, the Kings were scheduled to host the Dutchmen for game 2 Wednesday night – scores were unavailable at press time.
The next meeting will be held in Kitchener at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, followed by game four on Sunday in Elmira at 7 p.m. Two more games are scheduled the following week, if needed, with game five to be held in Kitchener on March 5 at 7:30 p.m., and game six penciled in for March 6 at the WMC.