The Elmira Sugar Kings return to the ice September 26 for their opening game of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) schedule. It will be their first real game since the start of the pandemic lockdowns a year and a half ago.
The league last week announced a 625-game schedule that will see all 25 GOJHL clubs complete a 50-game season.
The regular season opens September 24, with the Kings in action two days later, welcoming the Ayr Centennials to the Woolwich Memorial Centre for a 2 p.m. matinee game.
After some 18 months without a meaningful match, the Kings welcomed the resumption of play.
“I can tell you that everyone in the organization is extremely excited to be getting back at it. Our training camp opened on August 21st and we had a great turnout,” said director of hockey operations Scott McMillan.
“Our board and staff are working hand in hand with our league, the Ontario Hockey Association which governs our league, Woolwich township and through the township the regional public health team to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our staff, our players and everyone at the arena safe. We are committed to doing whatever is asked of us to manage risk so that we can play our season.”
Play resumes as the Kings celebrate 50 years since their inaugural season in 1971, and comes on the heels of a lost season last year.
“We missed our 50th season last year, so this year we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary and there are a few special events planned for that. The first anniversary event planned is the 50th anniversary golf tournament on September 20 at the Elmira Golf Club,” said McMillan, noting registration is open until September 6.
On the ice, the Kings will be led by veteran Kurtis Goodwin, now entering his final year of eligibility having been with the team since the age of 16, and three-year veteran Owen O’Donnell. The latter’s brother, Jack O’Donnell, is a potential part of the roster as the Kings await roster decisions elsewhere.
“He is hoping to make the Guelph Storm, but if he doesn’t he will be a welcome addition to our club. We might have Liam Eveleigh, another Elmira product, suiting up for his second season. Last year’s missed year would have been his rookie year and he’ll be with us if he doesn’t get signed by the Sarnia Sting. And we signed Centre Wellington goalie Colin Mackenzie who is currently trying out with the Ottawa 67’s and will share time in the net with returning goalie Marshall Nicholls who is skating with Erie in the OHL,” said McMillan.
Rob Collins returns as head coach, assisted by Joe Amlinger and Corey Prang. Nick Horrigan is the goalie coach. All are former Kings.