A pair of wins over the weekend was somewhat routine for the Elmira Sugar Kings. The brawl and endless parade to the penalty box in Sunday’s home game was anything but.
The February 1 game in Brantford featured a 6-1 victory and 18 penalties between the teams. The next day in Elmira, the Kings and the Brampton Bombers racked up 60 offenses, many of them for head contact, roughing and fighting, as the home side skated to an 8-3 win.
The Kings were in Brantford Saturday to take on the Bandits, scoring twice in the opening period and never looking back.
Mason McMahon got things rolling at 8:38, with assists going to Carter Lennon and Jeremey Goodwin. Five minutes later, Jacob Black (Harrison Toms, Hunter Dubecki) made it 2-0 after 20 minutes.
In the second, Kings’ goals bookended the sole reply from Brantford. Goodwin scored at 3:11, assisted by Brody Leblanc and Robbie Nelson Jr., with the Bandits capitalizing on a power play to make it 3-1 at 12:41. But just 16 seconds later, Keaton McLaughlin (Brett Allen, Cooper Way) restored the three-goal lead, which is where the score remained heading into intermission.
Goodwin scored two more times in the final frame to round out the scoring: at 10:38, assisted by Anthony Azzano and Niki Molson), and then completing the hat trick at 19:46 on the power play, assists going to Black and Lennon. The final score was 6-1.
Shots were 40-20 in favour of the visitors, who were 1-7 on the power play, while the Bandits were 1-3.
There was a completely different tack taken the following day back in Elmira, where the 427 in attendance were treated to some less-than-sportsmanlike play in a penalty-filled match.
The Kings took an early lead they’d never relinquish, but a pair of “head contact” penalties in the first period set the stage for what would be an increasingly aggressive match.
Dubecki opened the scoring at 4:17 on a power play, with assists going to Toms and Goodwin. Less than a minute later, it was Jakson Kirk (Black, Lennon) making it 2-0. Matt Tolton (Way, Leblanc) extend the lead to three at (9:14), followed by a goal from Leblanc (Black, Azzano) at 15:21 to make it 4-0 at the first intermission.
Brampton goalie Diego D’Alessandro appeared to be flustered, he received four penalties himself within the first period, all of which were for head contact. Two of the goals scored in the period came with Elmira enjoying a man advantage.
Head coach Rob Collins said he was happy with the results of the first period.
“We took control of the game early got off to a good start with a 4-0 first-period lead,” said Collins.
It was apparent that the Kings quick and strong lead was upsetting the Bombers as both teams exited the ice for intermission. On returning, the aggression on the Bombers end intensified, though they managed to do some damage in the offensive zone, scoring twice in the middle frame on just four shots.
Brampton’s first goal came at 2:04, almost immediately followed by a reply from Goodwin, assisted by McMahon and Dubecki. The Bombers found the back of the net at 8:24, the 5-2 score holding through the rest of stanza, where tensions continued to mount.
“It got a little chippy – that happens,” said Collins. “It’s a game of emotion and I’m sure Brampton would have had some frustration losing like that. Some guys acted out, so it was what it was.”
That acting out would only intensify heading in the third period.
Elmira put up three more goals in the final frame, while Brampton managed just one. Much more notable was the constant string of penalties, however.
On the scoreboard, Goodwin needed just 53 seconds to make it 6-2, with assists from Dubecki and McMahon. Half a minute later it was 7-2 courtesy of Leblanc (Molson, Way). That Brampton scored on the power play midway through the frame didn’t soothe their tempers. Goodwin’s hat-trick goal at 15:08, assisted by Toms and Dubecki, seemed to add some fuel to the fire.
Fights broke out frequently as the tenacity of the Kings seemed to provoke the ire of the Bombers. Two of the altercations turned into brawls, keeping the officials even busier.
Eventually, the match came to an end, an 8-3 victory for the Kings, who outshot Brampton 25-16.
This weekend, the first-place Sugar Kings (33-7-0-4) are in Cambridge Saturday night to take on the Redhawks (27-12-1-3) before returning home Sunday to welcome the Stratford Warriors (26-15-1-2) at a 7 p.m. match.