Having opened the season by splitting a pair of games at the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) Showcase series the previous weekend, the Sugar Kings returned to Elmira Sunday afternoon for the home-opener. The crowd at the Woolwich Memorial Centre was not disappointed, as the team skated to a 4-1 win over the Cambridge Redhawks.
The win continued the momentum of the Showcase’s second-game victory over the St. Thomas Stars, earning some kudos from the head coach.
“The better team won the game and I was proud of the way the guys took control of the game right from the start and never really gave the other team a chance to get into it,” said Rob Collins of the team’s effort.
In Sunday’s game, Tyson Hillier went right to the net and drew first blood at 7:09 of the opening period, which set the tone for the remainder of the game. Assists went to Harrison Toms and Brody Leblanc.
“What impressed me was how quick he got his shot off – he didn’t give the goalie time to react,” said Collins.
The Kings went into the first intermission up 1-0, having outshot the visitors 16-5. They turned up the heat in the second, scoring three unanswered goals and running the shot totals to 30-14 after 40 minutes.
Elmira made it 2-0 less than six minutes into the middle frame, with Hillier potting his second, assisted by Leblanc and Cooper Way. Just over a minute later, it was 3-0 for the home side courtesy of Brody Waters (Matt Tolton, Hunter Dubecki).
Control of the play was firmly in Elmira’s hands throughout the period, with the team moving out of their own zone quickly. The effort paid off when Tolton scored the fourth goal at 11:54, with an assist from Jeremey Goodwin.
Despite not capitalizing on Cambridge’s penalty woes in the period – the team would go 0-5 on the power play in the game, though killing off all four of Cambridge’s advantages – the Kings held a commanding 4-0 lead going into the final stanza.
Play was more even in the third – the Redhawks would outshoot the Kings 11-5, and score the only goal of the period, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough.
Netminder Greg Brassard stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced overall to post the win.
Collins had praise for his entire squad, noting the team was deserving of the 4-1 victory.
“Having humility and not letting your head get big after a win and realizing there’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Collins on what the Kings need to do to continue winning.
The Sugar Kings go head-to-head with the Waterloo Siskins on home ice Saturday at 7:30 p.m. before welcoming the Brampton Bombers to the WMC Sunday night. Game time is 7 p.m.