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Kings advance after sweeping Brantford in four straight

Jakson Kirk takes control of the play during Sunday’s playoff game against Brantford. The Kings won 8-3, sweeping the series the next day. [Colin Merlihan]

The Elmira Sugar Kings advanced to the second round of the GOJHL playoffs, having swept the Brantford Bandits in four games. A 6-1 win Monday night in Brantford sealed the deal.

The first-place Kings opened the Midwestern Conference series February 26, posting a 7-0 victory on home ice. A 4-3 overtime win on the road Saturday was followed by an 8-3 score back at the WMC on Sunday, setting up the clinching game March 2.

The opening game of the series set the stage for what would be a fairly easy match-up, the Kings having finished first in the conference and Brantford having finished eighth. At the Dan Synder arena February 26, Brody Waters’ goals at 7:41 of the first, assisted by Mason McMahon and Carter Lennon, would prove to be the winner, though the Kings weren’t stopping there.

Jacob Black (Jeremey Goodwin, Waters) made it 2-0 less than a minute later. At 10:36, it was Harrison Toms (McMahon, Hunter Dubecki), followed by Waters (Tyler Dam, Goodwin) at 13:49 to give the home team a 4-0 lead after one.

In the second, Matt Tolton scored at 15:02, assisted by Brett Allen. Waters completed a hat trick at 19:57 with help from Lennon and Toms.

After outshooting Brantford 16-5 and 16-4 in the first two periods, the Kings perhaps eased up on the pedal, as shots were 6-6 in the third, the lone goal going to McMahon, assisted by Keaton McLaughlin. It was 7-0 at game’s end, netminder Greg Brassard earning the shutout.

Things were decidedly closer Saturday night in Brantford. Elmira scored first – Dam, from Cooper Way and McLaughlin at 4:24 – but the Bandits responded seconds later to make it 1-1, which is where the period would end.

In the second, Brantford took the lead with a power-play goal at 6:42, with Elmira getting the equalizer at 11:51 off of the stick of Goodwin (Waters, Toms). But the Bandits took advantage of another power play to regain the lead at 18:41 before Goodwin’s second of the night less than a minute later knotted things up at 3-3.

There was no scoring in the third, meaning it was off to overtime. Just past the eight-minute mark, McMahon (Goodwin) put the game away. Shots were 39-33 in Elmira’s favour.

Back at the WMC on Sunday night, the Kings had something of a déjà vu going on, at least early. The Bandits scored first, the shortanded goal coming just 44 seconds after the opening faceoff. Fourteen minutes would pass before Dubecki, assisted by Kurtis Goodwin and Anthony Azzano, tied it up at 1-1, a score that would stand through intermission.

Despite outshooting the visitors 14-6 in the middle frame, the Kings would find themselves down 3-1 as they headed back to the room for the second break, having given up both a shorthanded and a power-play goal.

But it was all Elmira in the third, erasing any thoughts the Bandits may have had about climbing back into the series.

J. Goodwin got things rolling with a power-play marker at 3:52, with assists going to McMahon and Toms. A minute later, Lennon (Brody Leblanc, Tolton) tied it up at 3-3. With the Kings on a power play of their own, Waters got the go-ahead goal at 6:11, assisted by J. Goodwin, Toms.

McMahon (Waters) made it 5-3 at 11:51, then scored again on the power  play at 15:54, assisted by Dubecki, J. Goodwin. A minute and half later, it was Jakson Kirk, from Luke Eurig and Leblanc, making it 6-3. Allen’s goal at 18:06, with help from Way and Niki Molson, capped the evening.

Shots were 14-2 in the final frame, and 37-17 overall for the Kings.

Facing elimination on home ice Monday night, the Bandits again opened the scoring, again on the power play, but that was it for their offensive output. Just over two minutes later, at 5:59, Waters made it 1-1, assisted by Black and J. Goodwin. Before the period was out, goals from Leblanc (McLaughlin, Eurig) and K. Goodwin (Molson, Azzano) would seal Brantford’s fate.

The 3-1 score held through the second period, but the Kings would score three more in the third. The first came off the stick of J. Goodwin at 11: 45, with Black and Toms drawing assists. Just shy of five minutes later came a power-play goal from Kirk (Lennon, Eurig), with Owen O’Donnell getting one with Elmira enjoying a man-advantage at 18:46, assisted by Azzano and Leblanc.

Shots were 42-17 in favour of the Kings.

Elmira now awaits its second-round opponent, as they were the first of the Midwestern Conference teams to move on.


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