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Kings’ streak ended, but team quickly rebounds to pull off a win

Tyson Hillier of the Sugar Kings controls the puck during game action Sunday at the WMC, where Elmira skated to a 4-1 victory over the Listowel Cyclones. [Aneta Rebiszewski / The Observer]

Their four-game win streak halted Saturday in a 2-1 overtime loss to Kitchener, the Elmira Sugar Kings quickly rebounded the next day with a 4-1 victory over Listowel.

The weekend started with a trip to Kitchener late Saturday afternoon, where the Kings met the Dutchmen for the first time this season in what would be a battle for top spot in the GOJHL Midwestern Conference standings.

The visitors were on the board first, with Niki Molson scoring on an Elmira power play just over a minute in. Jeremey Goodwin and Mason McMahon picked up assists on the play. That would be it for scoring in the first, and it would be a 1-0 game until almost nine minutes into the third period.

Special teams were again involved when the Dutchmen evened things up at 8:44 of the third, with Kitchener scoring a shorthanded goal.

It was 1-1 after regulation time, with the two teams also knotted at 28 shots apiece. The deadlock was broken very quickly in overtime, as the home team got off a couple of shots, the second one finding the back of the net just 53 seconds after play resumed.

“I thought our effort was really good, just our execution was a little bit off,” said head coach Rob Collins of the Kings’ missed opportunities through regulation.

It was a different story on Sunday, however, in a game that was dedicated to a fundraising effort for EDSS Grade 11 student Liam Moyer, recently diagnosed with B-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. In his honour, T-shirts were being sold and the arena filled with orange shirts as more than 800 people came together to show their support.

Perhaps energized by the experience, the Kings came out ready to show off their best sportsmanship Sunday night as they welcomed the Listowel Cyclones to the WMC. Brett Allen (Tyson Hillier, Cooper Way) potted the first goal of the night at 12:44. The Kings pressured the visitors in the early going, outshooting the Cyclones 12-3 in the first period.

The momentum carried on with an excited crowd that continued to cheer on the Kings at the WMC, which led to an early goal in the second stanza by Hunter Dubecki at 2:23 with assists from Matthew Tolton and Carter Lennon. Midway through the period Listowel made the score 2-1, but that didn’t faze the Kings, who restored a two-goal lead five minutes later with a power-play goal from Hillier (Molson, Brody Waters).

It was 3-1 after 40 minutes, and the Kings quickly added to their total as play resumed – Harrison Toms, from Jacob Black and Brody Leblanc, scored at 1:13 to make it 4-1. That’s how the score would read when then buzzer went, the Kings outshooting Listowel 25-17.

Sunday’s win was a quick bounce-back for a team that has yet to ice its full line-up this season, said Collins, noting other players have stepped up to fill absences, whether due to injury or suspensions.

“Every spoke in the wheel is of equal value and strength. When we need guys to step up they have been and that’s the reason we’ve been so successful,” he said of the team’s effort this year.

When the dust settled after the weekend, Kitchener was in first place with 22 points (10-3-1-1), followed closing by Elmira at 21 (10-2-0-1), though the Kings have two games in hand. Listowel was in third spot with a record of 9-4-0-1 for 19 points.

The Kings have a busy weekend ahead of them now, travelling to Brampton (5-9-1-1) Friday night to take on the Bombers before returning home Saturday night to face the Waterloo Siskins (3-9-1) at 7:30 p.m. The team is then back on the ice at the Dan Snyder arena Sunday night to face the Cambridge Redhawks (9-4) at 7 p.m.

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