Having lost the last time they faced the last-place Brantford Bandits, the Elmira Sugar Kings can be excused for experiencing some déjà vu last Sunday, at least for a little while.
Less than 10 minutes into the match at the WMC, the Kings found themselves down 2-0. They regrouped in the intermission, however, eventually coming away with a 3-2 win that kept them atop the GOJHL’s Western Conference standings with a record of 16-4.
“It wasn’t the start we were hoping for,” said head coach Rob Collins of the team’s sole game of the week. “The guys were resilient, dealt with the adversity and came up with the result we were hoping for.”
The Kings got on the board at 2:41 of the middle frame with a power-play goal from Luke Eurig, assisted by Brody Leblanc and Nathaniel Mott. It was the start of some much better play, said Collins.
“We talked about it during the intermission. They got a couple of bounces and they took advantage of their opportunities – that’s hockey. We regrouped in between the first and the second, and the guys played with more focus and attention to detail in the second and third.”
Though the Kings converted on just one of nine power plays, the chances were indicative of Elmira’s control of the play, forcing the Bandits to take penalties, said Collins, adding that helped keep the Kings out of the box, as well.
“I felt as though we just had the puck the majority of the time. It’s tough to take penalties when you got the puck, so I think we did a good job controlling the management of the puck – that helped us with earning power plays. We seemed to be in their zone a lot, so it forced them to pull us down. I thought guys were good that way,” he said.
The home side tied things up at 2-2 on Lucas Carson’s goal at 10:01, assisted by Jack O’Donnell. Eurig’s second of the night and 11th of the season less than three and a half minutes later proved to be the game-winner, with assists going to Mott and netminder Matthew Lunghi.
There was no scoring in the third, despite Elmira having four power-play opportunities and outshooting Brantford 13-2. The final shot tally for the game was 35-15.
After the slow start in the first, the team started to play its game, earning the win, said Collins.
“It was evident in the second period. We came out, got the lead after two. We didn’t expand it, we didn’t take advantage and power plays we had, which would have been nice, … but I think it’s safe to say we were in control,” he said.
“They’re one bounce or one shot away from tying it the whole third period, but with that being said, there wasn’t a ton of nerves amongst the coaching staff – from the third period, I thought we had full control.”
The Kings have a much busier schedule this week, starting tonight (Thursday) in Cambridge. For the weekend, they’ll welcome the Ayr Centennials to the WMC Saturday night, then the Stratford Warriors on Sunday. Game time both nights is 7 p.m.
“We’ve got three games in four nights. I would I would say it’s the last tough stretch in the schedule where we have that many games in that many nights. We’ll be short a couple bodies again this week – nothing new for these guys, so we’ll play through,” said Collins, noting that roster fill-ins have been a big issue so far this season.
“We’re getting close to getting back to full strength as far as our roster goes, so it’s exciting to get everyone back. We don’t even know what we have with the full roster yet because we haven’t seen it yet, but it’s nice to see everyone’s getting back to healthy, though.”