Sugar Kings to salute inaugural team ahead of Sunday’s game at the WMC

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Elmira Sugar Kings will be paying tribute to the 1971 team ahead of Sunday evening’s game at the WMC.

More than 20 people associated with that team – players, coaches and staff – are expected in Elmira, says Graham Snyder, a member of that first squad and long-time member of the organization, including a stint as a Sutherland Cup-winning GM.

Snyder said he’s looking forward to connecting with some of his former teammates, a few of which he’s not seen in almost five decades. Along with past players and coaches, the board executive will be represented. Bill Clemens is the lone surviving member, but the families of some of the others will be on hand in their stead.

That kind of turnout is indicative of the longstanding connection between the Sugar Kings and the community, said Snyder, noting local players have always been an integral part of the team.

“Over the years, the roster always had lots of local talent on it. I think that a lot of our championship teams were based on the strength of our locals,” he said, noting his own selection to the team was part of that philosophy.

“It just happened it came along for me at the right time,” he said of the founding of the Kings in 1971. “I was 16 years old, and there was an opportunity that they looked at us locally – there were a lot of local players on that team.”

Ahead of Sunday’s game between Elmira and Brantford, the alumni will have a chance to meet and greet, share a meal, some beverages and a whole lot of stories. They’ll tour the WMC and the team’s dressing room, facilities that are somewhat different from the old Elmira Arena.

“After that, I imagine and then we can watch the hockey game … but there’ll probably be a fair bit of socializing, I would guess,” laughed Snyder.

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