Two outta three ain’t bad. But five out of six points is better still, and that’s just what the Elmira Sugar Kings managed in a busy three-game schedule over the weekend.
The team dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Cambridge on November 14, then wins over Stratford and Kitchener on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The points helped solidify Elmira’s hold on the top spot in the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference.
The three-game stretch didn’t get started as hoped, especially as Redhawks dominated the early going of last Thursday’s match in Cambridge. Shots in the opening frame were 12-5 for the home team, who led 2-0 after 20 minutes.
“We came out of the gates too slow and they jumped on us and we found ourselves behind the 8-ball going into the third period. We managed to claw our way back and get a point and force overtime,” said head coach Rob Collins of the Cambridge game.
The Redhawks went up 3-0 late in the second period, but the Kings finally got on the board less than a minute later when Mason McMahon scored an unassisted goal at 16:11. Elmira outshot their hosts 8-6 – not a volley of activity, but enough to show they weren’t rolling over.
A pair of power-play markers in the third let the Kings make a game of it. Hunter Dubecki (Harrison Toms, Jeremey Goodwin) scored at 4:18. Brody Waters, assisted by Jacob Black and Toms, drew the Kings even at 3-3 when he scored at 11:27. That was it for the period, with the two teams off to overtime. The first extra frame decided nothing, but the Redhawks needed just 13 seconds in the second OT to take the 4-3 win.
The final shot tally was 28-21 for the home side.
Despite playing the night before, the Kings had plenty of energy in Stratford Friday night as they took on the Warriors. It was an altogether different vibe than in Cambridge, Collins noted.
“We didn’t take any breaks, we got momentum and kept it. There was no feeling of being sufficed during the game – they stayed hungry.”
Toms got things rolling with a power-play goal at 12:25, assisted by J. Goodwin and McMahon. That was the only scoring of the first period, with the Kings outshooting Stratford 14-6.
Elmira opened it up in the second, scoring three times to put the game out of reach. The first came at 5:47, again on the power play, courtesy of Dubecki (Black, Niki Molson). Continuing the push, Black took potted another goal at 16:03 to make it 3-0. In the final minutes of the middle stanza, J. Goodwin scored what would be the final goal of the night, with assists from Waters and Jakson Kirk.
The final frame was scoreless, but a busy one for the officials, as play got chippy.
Goaltender Dawson Rowe faced just seven shots – 21 on the night – in posting the 4-0 victory, earning praise from Collins, who also noted the team effort involved.
Returning to home ice on Sunday, the Sugar Kings were in tight with the Kitchener Dutchmen, who’ve been in a battle with Elmira for the conference lead. There was an intensity that was visible on the ice at the Dan Snyder arena.
Leading the home team in the opening stanza was McMahon, who potted the first goal of the night at 13:41 with an assist from Dubecki. The period would play out without any more scoring.
The second saw a reversal, with Kitchener potting the frame’s lone goal, knotting the score at 1-1.
The tie would remain until 6:24, when Dubecki (Kurtis Goodwin, McMahon) put the Kings ahead for good. J. Goodwin (Kirk, Waters) followed up less than two minutes later with what would prove to be the game-winner.
Kitchener made it a one-goal game with less than five minutes to go, but netminder Greg Brassard shut the door the rest of the way, resulting in a 3-2 victory for Elmira.
With another busy weekend ahead, the Kings (17-3-0-3) will travel to Listowel on tomorrow (Friday) to take on the Cyclones (13-6-1-2) before heading to Waterloo Saturday afternoon to face the Siskins (5-14-1-1). They’re back in Elmira Sunday night to take another crack at the Redhawks (15-6-1-1) – game time is 7 p.m. at the WMC.