The Elmira Sugar Kings went into the Christmas break having both given and received, splitting their final two games of 2019.
Having taken a 3-1 decision over Kitchener on December 21, the Kings gave a win to the Waterloo Siskins the following afternoon. The two points helped keep them atop the Midwestern Conference standings in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League with 54 points (25-6-0-4).
The weekend before the holidays started with a stop in Kitchener to face the Dutchmen. Elmira ran into penalty trouble, but ended up coming out ahead, having scored two shorthanded goals.
The Kings got on the board first, with Jeremey Goodwin scoring an unassisted goal at 4:32 of the opening period. Kitchener responded just over four minutes later, but that would be it for them the rest of the way. It was 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
The parade to the box was on in earnest in the middle frame. Special teams figured prominently, as though the Kings would go 0-3 with the man advantage, the home side was 0-7, giving up a pair of shorties. The first came off the stick of Hunter Dubecki, who made it 2-1 with an unassisted effort at 9:04. Just 35 seconds later, it was 3-1 for the visitors thanks to a goal from Jakson Kirk, assisted by Goodwin and Harrison Toms.
That was it for the scoring for the rest of the game, with Elmira netminder Greg Brassard shutting the door as the Dutchmen outshot the visitors through the final two frames. The final tally was 28-24 in favour of Kitchener.
Special teams were also at play December 22 in Waterloo, with three of the afternoon’s goals coming on the power play. The Kings dominated stretches of the match – shots at game’s end were 33-17 in their favour – but came up short on the scoreboard.
Things started well for Elmira, Dubecki opening the scoring at 5:48 on a power play, assisted by Toms and Goodwin. Less than two minutes later, however, the Siskins responded with a power-play goal of their own. An even-strength goal at 8:47 made it 2-1 for Waterloo, giving them a lead they’d never relinquish.
The Siskins scored early and late in the middle frame, taking a 4-1 lead into the second intermission, capitalizing twice on just five shots through 20 minutes.
Elmira wasn’t going to give up without a fight, however. The Kings poured it on in the third, with Mason McMahon (Goodwin, Toms) scoring on the power play at 7:35 to make it 4-2. At the 11-minute mark, Dubecki, from McMahon and Goodwin, made it a one-goal game.
The Kings had a number of chances as they pushed to tie the score late in the third, giving every indication they’d do so if there’d just been more time. As it was, however, the buzzer dashed any hopes of a comeback.
Having had a couple of weeks off to enjoy the holidays, the Sugar Kings are back in action this weekend. They’re in Stratford Friday night to take on the Warriors (18-12-1-2), returning home Sunday afternoon to welcome the Brantford Bandits (5-23-0-5). Game time is 2 p.m. as the Kings host Woolwich Minor Hockey Day in which WMHA hockey players wearing a team jersey or spirit wear are admitted for free.