It was a low-scoring weekend for the Elmira Sugar Kings, who edged Listowel 2-1 Friday night before dropping a 3-0 decision to Cambridge at home on Sunday. The teams wasn’t helped by being shorthanded on the back end, with just three or four healthy defenders in the fold.
The weekend’s results saw the Kings (19-6) lose ground to the KW Siskins (18-4-2), who also have 38 points but with one game in hand.
“We were a little bit short this weekend – we had four and three defenseman, and we were playing forwards on D and what have you,” said head coach Rob Collins. “Friday was a was a really good effort, a team effort. For a group that was short to come up with the win, it was a really good effort. And then Sunday is one of those games where you just throw away the game tape. Not sure what happened – their brains got turned off, their legs didn’t get turned on. We were just flat.”
Things started well in Listowel on December 10, with Aidan Yarde scoring the only goal of the first period, assisted by Jayden Lammel and Brock Reinhart, to give Elmira a 1-0 lead. The Cyclones got that back in the second, scoring on a power play to make it 1-1 after 40 minutes.
Scoring on a power play of their own at 11:25 of the third, the Kings took a lead that would hold up through to the final buzzer. The goal was Luke Eurig’s 13th of the year, assisted by Kurtis Goodwin and Jaxson Murray.
Netminder Daniel Botelho stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced to post the win. The Kings landed 24 shots, outshooting the Cyclones in every period. The teams exchanged power-play goals, with Elmira 1-3 and Listowel 1-4.
There was a decided lack of power-play punch Sunday night at the WMC, as the Kings went 0-8 in being shut out by the Redhawks. Cambridge capitalized on one of their four chances. The visitors scored one in each period, including an empty-netter in the final minute of the third to cap the 3-0 win.
Shots were 31-29 in favour of the Redhawks.
“Our focus wasn’t right and Cambridge came out really, really hard. I thought they played a good game and they took it to us. They put it on us in our own rink and there was no excuses, they just put it on us,” said Collins, noting it was one of those games you just try to move past.
“We won’t forget it. We’ll address it in practice this week … and move on.”
The team is down a few bodies right now, with the shortage hitting the defence. That list includes an injury to Simon Belanco.
“We just lost another kid to close contact,” added Collins of the COVID protocol. “We really only have three healthy defenceman right now, so we’ll try to get everyone back healthy and put together a full roster for a game – that’s kind of the goal right now.”
The Kings are next in action Saturday night in Waterloo, where they’ll go head-to-head with the Siskins for Western Conference supremacy. On Sunday, they’re home to the fifth-place Ayr Centennials (9-10-3-4), the same team they’ll meet on December 23 in the final game before the Christmas break.
“Ayr plays us really hard. I think every game has been a one-goal game, if not an overtime game, and the Siskins are obviously at the top of the league standings for a reason, so that’ll be difficult as well,” he said.