Kings post a split in weekend play

The offence that was on display Saturday night dried up Sunday as the Elmira Sugar Kings split a pair of games last weekend.

The Kings are now 2-1 as the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League schedule gets rolling in earnest.

In Brantford October 2, the Kings skated to an 8-0 victory. Back home Sunday, they fell 4-1 to the Stratford Warriors. The team had opened the season at home the previous weekend with a 3-2 win over the Ayr Centennials.

“Saturday was good. The guys started really well and kept their focus through the whole game. They accomplished what they were trying to, so it was it was a very disciplined performance. It was excellent,” said head coach Rob Collins of the Brantford match.

It was a rougher ride against Stratford, however.

“We just got ourselves into too big of a hole to start that game. They scored the first three goals of the game, and I thought, after the first period, we carried the play – I thought we were very, very good the last two periods,” said Collins.

In Brantford, Luke Eurig got the party started at 3:55 of the first period, scoring with assists from Simon Belanco and Brayden Hislop. With less than 30 seconds to go, Aidan Yarde, assisted by Jaxson Murray and Brody Leblanc, gave the Kings a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Just 65 seconds into the middle frame, Adam Grein (from Luke Eurig and Aidan Milne) made it 3-0 for the visitors. At 3:35, the Kings extended the lead to 4-0 courtesy of a goal from Daniel Fraleigh (Kurtis Goodwin, Mason Eurig). That’s where things stood after 40 minutes.

Elmira blew the game wide open in short order when play resumed in the third. At 1:28, Luke Eurig picked up his second on the power play, with assists from Murray and Hislop. Just 30 seconds later, the Kings posted another power play marker – they’d finish the night 2 for 6 – off of the stick of Yarde (Owen O’Donnell, Goodwin).

Two more goals in rapid succession would wrap up the scoring at 8-0. At 10:16, Jayden Lammel buried one, assisted by Luke Eurig and Grein. Just 36 seconds later, it was Goodwin’s turn, assisted by Leblanc and Yarde.

Shots were 43-12 in Elmira’s favour, with netminder Matthew Lunghi posting the shutout.

Collins had plenty of praise for his vets after the weekend.

“Jaxson Murray looks really good so far. Luke Eurig has gotten off to a good start. I would say Kurtis Goodwin and Owen O’Donnell are certainly leading by example.”

Back at the Woolwich Memorial Centre Sunday evening, the Kings found themselves behind early, as Stratford scored just 19 seconds in. Goals at 10:54 and 18:27 put the visitors ahead 3-0 after 20 minutes of play.

Elmira finally got on the board in the second period, with Leblanc scoring at 16:20. Assists went to Murray and Yarde.

Despite a push in the latter part of the game, including pulling the goaltender – the Warriors scored their fourth into an empty net – the Kings fell short.

“When you’re in a big hole to start, sometimes it’s just a little too late to climb out of, and I think that might have been one of those scenarios. With the youth that we have in our hockey club, it’s not always going to be easy to come back from deficits like that. It proved to be that, so it was a learning experience for the group.  Hopefully we’ll learn from our own mistakes and not make them again,” said Collins.

“We won the second period and put ourselves in shooting distance in the third. We had enough opportunities on the power play to pull ourselves within one to really make the game, and unfortunately didn’t get it done on that half of the special teams. So that’s something we definitely need to address and improve on, but not the only thing.”

The Kings were 0-for-7 with the man advantage, but the penalty kill kept the visitors off the board through five tries.

Shots were 26-29 in favour of Stratford, with Lunghi picking up the loss. He was replaced after the first by Richard Szajek.

The Sugar Kings travel to Caledon Friday evening to face the Bombers. On Sunday, they return the favour. The puck drops at 2 p.m.

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