Home and away, it was a good weekend for the Elmira Sugar Kings as they twice bested the Stratford Warriors, extending their winning streak to four games.
The first meeting of the season for the two squads came last Friday night in Stratford, a 2-0 win for the visitors. It was quickly followed by round-two in Elmira Sunday evening, with Kings skating to a 4-3 victory in overtime. The wins put Elmira atop the standings in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Midwestern Conference with a record of 9-2.
On Friday the Kings travelled to the Allman Arena to kick off the home-and-home series against the Warriors. The arena was packed, and the crowd ready to see the two teams go at it, but the game started slowly and didn’t really pick up much momentum as the night went on.
The two teams only managed five shots apiece in the opening frame, and it wasn’t until just under two minutes remained before Elmira’s Hunter Dubecki, assisted by Kurtis Goodwin, broke the stalemate.
Even the officials weren’t busy, with just one minor penalty handed out in the first 20 minutes.
The Kings stepped things up after the intermission, with Dubecki potting another on the power play at 4:03, burying one of 14 shots Elmira put on goal in the middle frame. Harrison Toms and Jeremey Goodwin picked up assists on the play. It was Toms’ first game back after a two-game suspension.
It was 2-0 for the visitors after 40 minutes.
The Warriors weren’t willing to go quietly, as they stepped up the pressure in the third, ultimately outshooting Elmira 11-5, but failing to solve netminder Greg Brassard.
The score stood at the buzzer, the shots 24-21 in Elmira’s favour, and with Stratford raring for the rematch that was just two days away.
On Sunday, the Warriors made the trek to the WMC, where there were some unresolved issues from Friday night. Again, the game got off to a slow start, as the teams mustered up another 10-shot performance (6-4 in the visitors’ favour), but no scoring.
It was a different story in the second period, however. The Warriors came out flying, breaking the goose-egg just 19 seconds in, and then adding two more before five minutes had past.
Down 3-0, the Kings started to mount a comeback. Tyson Hillier, assisted by Brody Waters and Jacob Black, got his team on the board with a power play goal at 7:56. About eight minutes later, it was Matthew Tolton (Cooper Way, Anthony Azzano) scoring to make it a one-goal game at 3-2.
There’s was still plenty of time left on the clock when play resumed after the break, but Elmira wouldn’t tie things up the dying minutes, when Azzano (Toms, Dubecki) score the period’s lone goal while the home team iced an extra attacker.
Regulation time ended with the teams tied at 3-3, meaning it was off to overtime. Elmira poured it on, outshooting Stratford 7-1 in the extra frame, the last shot the winning goal from Mason McMahon (J. Goodwin, Dubecki) to seal another victory.
Shots were 30-23 for Elmira when the action wrapped up.
This weekend, the Sugar Kings travel to Kitchener Saturday afternoon (4:30 p.m.) to take on the Dutchmen for the first time this season before returning home to welcome the Listowel Cyclones. The puck drops at 7 p.m. at the WMC.