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Kings split a pair, ramp up for a busy weekend

It wasn’t the kind of week the Sugar Kings were hoping for, but perhaps something of a learning experience for a young team early in the season.

Following a tough 4-3 OT win over the Ayr Centennials, the Kings provided the Brantford Bandits with their first win via a 3-1 decision.

“There’s going to be some learning curves, and we understand that. It’s unfortunate we have to drop points to a team that we beat by eight goals the last time we played them,” said head coach Rob Collins of Sunday night’s loss to Brantford.  “Those points are worth the same amount as the points against Cambridge or Waterloo or what have you.

“Hopefully that lesson gets learned sooner than later and we can move on from there.”

As a result of the split, Elmira finds itself in fourth place in the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference with a record of 5-2.

The Kings were in Ayr on October 14 to take on the Centennials (3-1-1-3), a match Collins was forced to miss due to a family emergency just as the team bus was headed to North Dumfries Township.

The team found itself behind twice before mounting a comeback to win in overtime. The Centennials were on the board first, scoring just past the three-minute mark, but Elmira would take a 2-1 lead before the buzzer sounded thanks to goals from Luke Eurig, assisted by Brayden Hislop and Jayden Lammel, and Jack O’Donnell (Kurtis Goodwin, Hislop).

Ayr got the equalizer less than two minutes into the middle frame, going ahead 3-2 about five minutes later. A power play goal from Eurig (Nathaniel Mott, Lammel) knotted thing up again heading into the second intermission.

It remained 3-3 through the third, so it was off to OT, where Brody Leblanc settled things in Elmira’s favour with a goal assisted by Eurig and Hislop.

The visitors outshot the home side 37-28, with netminder Matthew Lunghi picking up the win. The Kings were 1-6 with the man advantage, while Ayr was 1-2.

There was less to like about the team’s return to Elmira to face Brantford, says Collins.

“Sunday, I  didn’t see a whole heck of a lot that I want to rant and rave about.”

The visitors scored first, posting the opening period’s only goal, a power play marker.

The Kings gave the fans at the WMC something to cheer about at 11:49 of the second when Adam Grein scored, assisted by Lammel and Aidan Yarde, but that would be it for the team’s scoring. Four minutes later, the Bandits went ahead for good. It was 2-1 after 40 minutes.

Just 11 seconds into the third, the visitors got an insurance goal, and that’s how it ended, despite Elmira outshooting Brantford 36-20.

“Our execution wasn’t very good and we got taught a real valuable lesson that if you take anyone lightly, you know you’ll regret it,” surmised Collins of the team’s mindset heading into a game against last-place Brantford.

Things don’t get easier from here. The Kings’ weekend included three games in as many nights, starting Friday night in Listowel Cyclones, followed by games in Elmira Saturday (KW Siskins) and Sunday against Caledon.

Practices this week will involve fundamentals, drawing on the loss to Brantford that has the team looking to make up ground.

“We’re chasing now. We kind of stubbed their toe there [Sunday] so now we’re chasing,” said Collins.

“Effort really hasn’t been an issue so far this year – it’s kind of been just focus and execution. I anticipate our effort will be just as good if not better coming off a loss like that. I’m hoping they learned that their focus needs to match their effort level as well if you want to have success.”

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