It was a quieter weekend than expected, and quieter than Elmira Sugar Kings head coach Rob Collins would have liked.
Problems with the ice caused the postponement of the team’s game in Listowel last Friday, leaving the new squad idle for a couple of days before a rematch with the Stratford Warriors Sunday at the WMC, a 2-1 win for the visitors.
That was an improvement over the 4-1 margin a week earlier, but not the ideal outcome. Still, Collins sees plenty of upside in the play of what is a very young Elmira team.
“It was a better game. I think we had every bit as much opportunity to win that as they did – they just came out on the upper end. There’s nothing to be disappointed about, it was a competitive game. We look forward to facing them again,” he said.
The Kings led Sunday’s game for a while, scoring the lone goal of the first period. That was a power-play marker from Madden MacDougall at 15:17, assisted by Jayden Lammel and Brock Reinhart.
The 1-0 lead was relatively short-lived, however, at the Warriors tied it at 2:11 of the second period, the 1-1 score standing until a Stratford power-play goal at 4:18 of the third.
For Collins, the win would have been nice, but at this point in the season he’s still looking to get a full roster in place. There were a few more in the lineup than was the case the previous weekend.
“We had more of our guys, that’s for sure. Not quite a full lineup, but that’s OK – there’s many games we’ll play this year without a full lineup, so they have to get used to that,” he said. “That was still an inexperienced group trying to find our footing, but we’re confident that we will. We might just need a little bit longer of a runway to get the plane off the ground.
“We’re confident. We like what we’ve got, so we get to take it one game at a time.”
The Kings are hoping to have returning player Liam Eveleigh, who’s been out with a broken wrist, back in the lineup as soon as this weekend.
The team is heading south for some out-of-conference action this weekend, taking on a pair of Golden Horseshoe Conference squads. First up are the defending Sutherland Cup champs, the St. Catharines Falcons, on Friday, followed by the Caledonia Corvairs on Sunday.
Both are strong teams, says Collins, noting they’ll be a challenge for a young team still looking for its first win of the season. It’s about getting some experience.
“I’m not putting too much weight on our record right now – it’s the inputs. Our staff’s just excited about what we’re seeing and about what we’ve got as far as a full team, because we haven’t seen our whole team play together yet.”