The Elmira Sugar Kings split a pair of 4-2 decisions last weekend as they returned to Midwestern Conference play following a victorious jaunt to Niagara Region the week previous.
On the winning end of the 4-2 score September 30 in Stratford, the team fell by the same two-goal margin when Cambridge visited the WMC on Sunday.
Last Friday’s victory in Stratford began slowly for the Kings. In a scoreless first period, shots were just 5-4 for the visitors, and it was the Warriors who got on the board first with two goals in the middle frame, including a shorthanded effort.
It wasn’t until well into the third that Elmira found its mojo. A power-play goal at 13:57 courtesy of Luke Della Croce, assisted by Joey Martin and Brock Reinhart, opened the floodgates. Less than four minutes later, the Kings tied it at 2-2 when Logan Crans (Jayden Lammel, Adam Grein) scored. The winning goal came at 19:02 off the stick of Grein, assisted by Madden MacDougall and Lammel.
- Advertisement -
MacDougall rounded out the comeback with an empty-netter 24 seconds later to make the final score 4-2. Assists went to Reinhart and Grein.
“Friday was the kind of a game where it looked like two teams who were somewhat familiar with each other, seeing how it was the third game against each other already, were feeling each other out a little bit. And then just when you thought it was getting too late, the guys turned it around in a heartbeat, and all of a sudden the emotions went from feeling bad to the ultimate high,” said head coach Rob Collins of the third-period comeback.
“The last seven minutes, there was a lot of fun to be a part of our side,” he said, noting that may not have been the case on the Stratford bench.
“I imagine the other team had not only a frustrated locker room, but a frustrated coach’s office as well. I’m just glad we came around at the end of it, where they (the players) got to learn from a win versus learning from a loss.”
Shots were 23-18 in favour of the visitors. Netminder Hayden Sabourin picked up the win, stopping 19 of the shots he faced. Stratford was 0-3 with the man advantage, while Elmira was 1-8.
It was a different story Sunday at the WMC, as the Kings were unable to mount a comeback as the visiting Cambridge Redhawks took a 2-0 lead.
Cambridge scored the lone goal of the opening period, then potted another midway through the second before the Kings made it a 2-1 game when Grein (Crans, Lammel) scored at 18:17. With just two seconds remaining in the frame, however, Cambridge took advantage of a power play to make it 3-1.
The Kings got within one again when Lammel scored at 17:03 of the third, assisted by Grein and Tanner McDonald, but the Redhawks would seal the win with a shorthanded empty-net goal with 34 seconds left in the game.
Cambridge outshot the home team 33-26, with goaltender Daniel Botelho stopping 29 in the loss. The Redhawks were 1-4 on the power play, while the Kings were 0-6.
“We kind of put ourselves in a similar predicament there on Sunday night, made a late push, but I would say the more mature group came out on top in that game,” said Collins. “I think their experience shone through a little bit in the game, but there were also points in the game where I thought we’re going to be competitive against everyone because we believe Cambridge will be a really strong team this year.”
The Kings (3-4) will have a shot at some revenge this weekend when they travel to Cambridge for a rematch with the Redhawks (4-2-0-1) on Saturday night. There’s a quick turnaround, as they welcome the Caledon Bombers (2-8) to the WMC for a Sunday afternoon matinee. Game time is 2 p.m.
Collins said he likes the progress being made by the team at this point in the young season.
“If we’re being realistic and reasonable and, and doing real fair evaluating, we’re excited about where our group is right now, considering who we are facing and already competitive with.”