Another weekend, another split for the Elmira Sugar Kings.
On the road December 9, the team edged the Listowel Cyclones 3-2 in overtime. On Sunday, a hard-fought battle on home ice saw the Cambridge Redhawks post a 3-1 win.
It was a pretty good outcome given the team found itself shorthanded for much of the weekend, said head coach Scott McMillan.
“Sunday, we’re missing all three of our captain and two alternate captains, so it was a really good effort. We were short-staffed and had some call- ups and played two pretty good games,” he said.
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“We were able to pull one out in Listowel with a late goal. We only had four of our defenseman, and one of them’s pretty new – we had three guys, three of our regular defenseman and a new addition, and then we had a 15-year-old call-up. We were really short on the back end on Friday night. Sunday, we were able to get one of our other call-ups and we had some guys who came back… but missing all of our captains made it a little bit tough, a bit of an uphill battle against a really good team. The guys played really well.”
It was a back-and-forth kind of game last Friday in Listowel. After a scoreless first period, the home team got on the board first, but the Kings replied just over five minutes later when Joey Martin scored at 14:51. Assists went to Luke Della Croce and Jayden Lammel.
The tie stood until about seven minutes into the third when the Cyclones converted on a power play and took a 2-1 lead that looked like it might hold up. The Kings’ Madden MacDougall had other ideas, however, potting the equalizer with just 44 seconds left in regulation, a power-play goal assisted by Dustin Good and Brock Reinhart.
That put the game into OT, where MacDougall’s second of the night, also on the power play, finished things off at 2:27. Good picked up an assist.
Shots were 28-27 in favour of Listowel, who went 1-6 with the man advantage, while Elmira was 2-5. Netminder Daniel Botelho stopped 26 for the win.
On Sunday at the WMC, while the Kings found themselves down 3-0 at one point, the game was much tighter than the numbers might have indicated, said McMillan.
The visiting Redhawks scored late in the first to go up 1-0, a lead they would expand with two quick goals less than 50 seconds apart early in the middle frame, the first on a power play.
In the third, however, the Kings managed to both outshoot Cambridge and convert on a power play for the period’s lone goal. Good’s first of the year was assisted by Chris Black and Carter Lawson.
The final shot tally was 44-30 in favour of Cambridge. There were plenty of power play opportunities in the penalty-filled match, but the Kings were 1-8 and the Redhawks 1-7. Hayden Sabourin stopped 41 shots in the losing effort.
“It’s a bit of an eye-opening experience for our first-year players to play a team like Cambridge when they’re playing well. I think we adapted well to the game, I think we responded well. We were a little bit overwhelmed in the first period and then we battled back and stayed right with them after,” said McMillan.
“They just put in a good effort. We’re still at the point in the season where we’re trying to get better every day – that’s our focus. We believe that if we keep getting better, the results will show up at the end. So it certainly was a case where the inputs were right, even though we didn’t get the result that we want to.”
The Kings have a busy weekend ahead, playing three games in as many nights. On the road in Caledon Friday, Elmira (15-13-1) face the seventh-place Bombers (5-25) for the first of two games. Ahead of a rematch Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.) at the WMC, the Kings will first play host Saturday night to the second-place KW Siskins (23-5); game time is 7 p.m.