In need of just one more win to clinch first place in the Midwestern Conference, the Elmira Sugar Kings claimed all three games over the weekend.
The Kings book-ended wins over the Brantford Bandits Saturday (6-3) and Monday (4-1) with a 2-1 OT victory versus Listowel on Sunday afternoon.
The winning streak began Saturday night in Brantford, where the last-place Bandits managed to make a game of it for a while, at any rate.
The visitors went up 2-0 in the first on goals from Luke Eurig (Cooper Way, Matt Tolton) and Brody Waters (Niki Molson, Robbie Nelson Jr.) less than five minutes in. But the Bandits battled back to tie it up before the period ended, one of the goals coming on a power play.
Waters’ second of the night put the Kings back in the lead at 12:30 of the middle stanza, assists coming from Jacob Black and Jeremey Goodwin. But four minutes later the teams were deadlocked again at 3-3, where the score would remain heading into the second intermission.
It was all Kings in the third, however. Brody Leblanc scored what would be the winner at 2:11, assisted by Mason McMahon and Owen O’Donnell. It was Leblanc again (Hunter Dubecki, McMahon) at 10:37 to make it 5-3. Waters completed his hat trick on a power play at 17:05 to round out the scoring. Final shots were 33-24 for the visitors.
The Sugar Kings’ busy weekend continued Saturday afternoon back in Elmira, where they faced the Listowel Cyclones in front of a crowd of 800 at the WMC. The match was the team’s annual charity game, this time in support of Kate’s Kause.
With the players wearing special sweaters that would be auctioned off after the game, Kate Meissner dropped the puck to get things going. Once the action started, the crowd was treated to a defensive struggle that would need overtime to decide it.
The only scoring in the first period came from Black, with assists going to Anthony Azzano and Goodwin. Shots were 8-2 in favour of the home team.
The Cylcones inverted the situation in the second, scoring the lone goal while enjoying a 9-3 shot advantage.
The third period solved nothing, the 1-1 score rolling into OT. But Waters (Dubecki) needed just 67 seconds to claim victory for the Kings, who’d end the night on the strong side of 21-16 shot differential.
The team had an easier time of it on holiday Monday when the Bandits travelled to Elmira for a matinee match. As with the previous day, the Kings scored the opening frame’s only goal – Eurig from Jakson Kirk and Nelson Jr. at 17:48 – but the home side followed that with the lone tally in the second, a power-play goal from McMahon (Dubecki, Molson) at 18:05.
Special teams remained busy in the third, with Tolton (Leblanc, Black) putting Elmira up 3-0 just 51 seconds after the teams returned to the ice. A little more than four minutes later, the Bandits finally got one, a power-play goal of their own. Any hope of a comeback was squashed when Keaton McLaughlin replied for the Kings at 8:47, assisted by Goodwin and Leblanc.
Play was dominated by the Kings, who outshot Brantford 20-7 in the third, and 35-16 overall.
Their playoff position decided, the Sugar Kings (36-8-0-5) play their final game of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s regular season Saturday night in Cambridge against the third-place Redhawks (31-13-1-4).