The Elmira Sugar Kings are sitting in the fourth place spot in the Midwestern Conference after an away-game loss and a home-game win this past week.
The team took to the road Dec. 1 to play against the Thorold Blackhawks, where they lost 4-3. They bounced back, however, to put on a show for the hometown fans with a 4-2 win against the Cambridge Winter Hawks.
The Dec. 1 game saw a feisty pair of teams match up against each other and wrack up quite a few penalties. The game was a close one as the points went evenly back and forth and the teams were tied up at three apiece at the end of the second period.
In the final frame however, Thorold played exceptionally, only letting the Kings get four shots on net while they managed to fire 10 – one of which was the game winner. Elmira’s Josh MacDonald had a strong game, scoring two of the Kings’ three goals. Both came on the powerplay.
The close game can be a credit to both squads’ special teams, as four of the seven goals scored were with the man-advantage, including the Blackhawks’ final goal.
“I thought we played really well in Thorold,” said Kings coach Geoff Haddaway. “They are one of the top teams in the province and they have an excellent record at home. I think our problem was that we didn’t have that killer instinct.
We were ahead there for a bit but if you don’t keep your foot on a team like Thorold in their own barn, it will come back to haunt you, and it did.”
The Kings turned themselves around and were the dominant team at home last Sunday against Cambridge. It was simply a matter of time before they were able to pull ahead on the scoreboard. In the game that ended in a 4-2 win,
Elmira finished with almost 40 shots on net, a hefty margin over Cambridge’s 23.
The King’s success was a full-team affair with each goal scored by a different player and excellent goaltending by netminder Matthew Smith.
The game got off to a bit of a slow start with only one goal scored by Sugar King Clayton Greer just past the half-way point of the first frame. Both teams kept the period a clean one with only one penalty apiece.
In the second period, Elmira continued to be the better team, allowing for more scoring opportunities, more shots, more puck possession – yet they left the period with a one-goal difference. Elmira’s Andrew Smith scored the Kings’ second goal 10 minutes in with a shot from the slot, but his effort was followed shortly by a nice one-timer by Cambridge’s Jeff Howlett.
The third frame saw the Kings keep the pressure on, with great fore-checking and back-checking that led to a pair of goals. Both tallies came as a result of great effort to steal the puck, creating odd-man rushes the opposite way.
With clean stick-handling by Elmira goal scorers Ryan Clarkson and Brady Campbell, the home team was able to secure the W.
“I have said all along, we are a fore-checking team,” said Haddaway. “And when we do that well, we usually have success.”
The Kings were joined this week by a new player, Jordan Benton, who was recently acquired from the Cambridge Winter Hawks. The next home game for the is against the Listowel Cyclones tomorrow (Sunday) at the Dan Snyder Arena. The puck drops at 2 p.m. This game marks the third annual Teddy Bear Toss.