A pair of wins is a pair of wins, but last week’s four points didn’t come easily for the Elmira Sugar Kings. Still, they managed to best both LaSalle and Owen Sound.
The team travelled to LaSalle Oct. 20 to face the defending provincial champion Vipers. The game looked as though it was in the bag for the Kings, as they hit the ground running and notched a powerplay goal by Andrew Smith in the first period and two more successive goals by Josh MacDonald and Brady Campbell in the second. LaSalle didn’t give up that easily, however, and their aggressive forwards pushed back against the Kings with a barrage of shots, scoring four times before the halfway point of the game.
“We had been winning 3-0 and then they just came back at us,” said Kings coach Geoff Haddaway.
Elmira then got a streak of luck and energy: despite being down in the shot count, they potted three more within the last minute and a half of play to win the game 6-4.
“It was such an emotional win,” said Haddaway. “We only had three lines and we came from behind. To go on the road against such a good team and win was great. We worked hard and it was a huge high.”
That satisfaction, however, may have been what slowed their progress at the home game on Sunday as they managed to come out on top, but only after a hard struggle against the Owen Sound Greys. The Greys had made the three-hour drive to Brantford the previous night, lost the game, then got right back on the bus and came to Elmira for Sunday’s
“They had every reason to come into our rink on Sunday and roll over, but they didn’t” said Haddaway. “Maybe we were guilty of looking at the standings for Sunday and that’s not fair to Owen Sound. Any time you disrespect your opponent in our league, you’re going to get burnt.”
The first period saw Elmira come out of the gates quickly, putting up 16 shots on net to Owen Sound’s five, but the scoreboard showed no points for either team.
When the teams hit the ice a second time, the Greys were coming back at the Kings with some power: their special teams stepped up and scored two goals within the first five minutes of the period, one on the powerplay and one shorthanded, putting them up 2-0.
The Kings managed to stay in the game with a quick goal by Brady Campbell shortly after to cut their margin in half, down 2-1 after a much closer second period.
“We really challenged the players after the second period,” said Haddaway. “Being down by only one goal in your own rink by the third period is not the end of the world, but we needed to keep going. I think our guys responded well and the third period was clearly our best.”
In the third frame, Elmira came back full-force with 16 shots on goal trumping Owen Sound’s three. With great overall pressure throughout the period, Kings Wade Pfeffer, Brad Kraus and Andrew Smith contributed goals to clinch the victory, one on the powerplay and two at even strength. Pfeffer and Colton-Wolfe Sabo finished the night with three points apiece.
“I don’t think any of our players would say they are really pleased with the way we played the game, but the positive of all of it is that we found a way to win it in the end.”