After a messy 6-1 loss to Stratford on Jan. 30, the Elmira Sugar Kings regrouped to down Cambridge 5-1 to start February, handing the Winter Hawks their fourth straight loss.
On Jan. 30, playing with a short bench and missing some key scorers, the Kings just couldn’t hit their stride. Coach Geoff Haddaway said the team “just didn’t compete, right from the opening faceoff.”
Things were tied 1-1 at the end of the first period, thanks to a goal from Michael Therrien five minutes in. But Stratford added three unanswered goals in the second period and another pair in the third to walk off with the win.
The Kings turned things around on Sunday and put on a good show for the fans who decided to forgo the Super Bowl for hockey, shutting down Cambridge’s offence and hammering the Hawks around their own net.
Cambridge now has the two top scorers in the league, as Anthony Colizza and Greg Virgo have moved past Brantford’s sharp shooters to top the standings. The Kings held the Winter Hawks to 29 shots, while firing 48 of their own at Cambridge keeper Dave Clement.
“I thought we were good right from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer,” said coach Geoff Haddaway. “They certainly have three or four really gifted offensive players, but we made a concentrated effort to make life difficult for those guys and I thought for the most part we did a good job.”
The Kings were first on the board with an unexpected goal at 7:22. Call-up Rob Hinshberger snagged a loose puck when a Cambridge defender went down and beat Clement handily for the point.
Five minutes later, Josh Ranalli made it 2-0 on the power play. Kyle McNeil carried the puck in front of the net, and Ranalli drove it home.
The Kings widened their lead in the second period. At 11:25, after pounding Cambridge with a barrage of shots, Kyle Blaney blasted through to make it 3-0. Four minutes later, Ranalli raced down the ice on a breakaway and wired a pass across to McNeil, who knocked it in. The period ended with Elmira up four and Cambridge still shut out.
Cambridge finally got on the board 48 seconds into the third frame. Josh Woolley fed the puck to Tanner Rutland, who found a hole in Elmira’s defence and blasted a shot past Jake Williams.
“I think that [goal] was just hopefully a reminder that we’re a team that can’t let our guard down for even one shift; if we do, we’re going to get punished,” Haddaway said. “I thought we bounced back from that really well.”
Indeed, the Kings clamped down on Cambridge’s offence and allowed nothing else through for the rest of the game. With three minutes to go, Therrien capped the win with a power play goal on a feed from Trent Brown.
“The last few games, we’ve been playing great as a team,” Therrien said. “We can finally score too. We’ve outshot most of the teams we played all year, but now we’ve finally found that scoring touch.”
After last night’s game in Owen Sound, the Kings have just five regular-season matches remaining, but Haddaway said they aren’t thinking as far ahead as the playoffs just yet.
“We have to be careful. Every time we think we’re better than we are, we get ourselves into trouble, so we really want to concentrate just on our next game and put our last game behind us, whether it was a good result or a bad result.”
The Kings face Kitchener on home ice Sunday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.