Facing an opponent on a 35-game losing streak, the Elmira Sugar Kings could be excused for expecting to pick up four points in a home-and-home weekend against the Brantford Bandits. They did just that, which was necessary to stay in fourth place and maintain a one-point lead over Ayr.
The Centennials will be Elmira’s first-round opponent in the GOJHL playoffs, which will get underway following the end of the regular season this weekend.
On the road Saturday night in Brantford, the Kings got off to a somewhat frustrating start, with the home side scoring the lone goal of the first period despite being outshot 22-4.
Ironically, the shot totals were much closer for the rest of the game, even as the Kings took control of the scoreboard.
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In a 24-second stretch late in the second period, the visitors took the lead they wouldn’t give up. Jackson Heron scored at 18:24, assisted by Austin Mumby and Brady Schwindt to tie the game. Then at 18:48, it was Luke Della Croce, from Jayden Lammel, to make it 2-1.
In the third, Brennan Kennedy scored at 7:06, with assists going to Della Croce and Lammel. Carter Lawson (Dustin Good) potted an empty-net goal at 19:08 to put it away at 4-1.
The final shot tally was 38-19 in favour of the Kings. Starting goaltender Daniel Botelho stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced through two periods. Noah Tegelaar came in for the third, stopping five of five. The Kings were 0-1 on the power play, while Brantford was 0-3.
Back on home ice Monday for a Family Day matinee, the Kings posted another win, but at a more comfortable pace.
Elmira was up 1-0 just 44 seconds in courtesy of a goal from Good, assisted by Adam Grein and Mumby. Just over seven minutes later, it was 2-0 when Grein tallied one of his own, with help from Good and Brock Reinhart. That’s how things stood going into the first intermission.
Less than two minutes after play resumed, it was Grein again to make it 3-0. Helpers went to Ryan Forwell and Reinhart. At 4:19, Malcolm Scott’s unassisted goal put the Kings up 4-0 before the visitors finally got on the board with a power-play goal at 11:08. Heron got that one back, however, when he scored on a power play just over three minutes later, assisted by Taylor Bothwell and Liam Eveleigh.
It was 5-1 after 40 minutes.
Good made it a 6-1 game at 3:43 of the third frame, assisted by Forwell and Mumby. That’s how it would stand until Brantford got another with just eight ticks left on the clock. When the buzzer sounded, it was 6-2.
Shots were 30-13 in Elmira’s favour. Hayden Sabourin stopped seven of the eight he faced while tending net through the first two periods. Brock Grein turned aside four of the five he saw in the third. The Kings were 1-5 with the man advantage, while the Bandits were 1-6.
The Kings (29-18-1) wrap up the regular season this weekend, travelling to Cambridge (32-8-6-2) Saturday night before welcoming Listowel (23-23-2) to the WMC Sunday afternoon. Game time is 2 p.m.