Last weekend was a rough one for the Sugar Kings, playing three games in as many days and dropping the first two before salvaging the third Oct. 11.
The weekend started out with a 4-2 loss to the Cullitons in Stratford. Returning to Elmira the following night proved no better, as the Kings fell 4-1 to the Chatham Maroons. But the home ice was kinder Sunday thanks to a 4-3 overtime win against the Guelph Hurricanes.
The win came at the right time for the Sugar Kings (5-4-2), said coach Geoff Haddaway.
“It was really great to win at the end of the weekend. Our first games really took a toll, so the third game win was necessary. It’s also so important to the guys to have the support of the fans, regardless of whether they have won or lost the last game. That means a lot to us.”
Although the final score was favourable, the Kings probably felt a strong case of déjà vu as they fell behind 1-0 just 2:24 into the game. It wasn’t until almost the final minute of the period that Elmira tied things up on a power play goal from Jon Jutzi (assisted by Riley Sonnenburg and Brennon Pearce). When the buzzer sounded, the home team had been outshot 16-9. Elmira’s Nick Horrigan was clearly the busier netminder.
The second frame brought a reversal of fortune, as the Kings’ Tyson LeBlanc (Tyler Kuntz and Michael Therrien) netted the period’s only goal just 42 seconds after the puck dropped, with Elmira getting the edge on shots 14-13.
Upon hitting the ice again in the third period, it seemed as though the Hurricanes had bounced back from the previous 20 minutes, scoring twice in less than five minutes and taking the wind out of the Kings’ sails by quickly bringing the tally to 3-2.
The rest of the period was a struggle, but Elmira was able to retaliate at 11:39 courtesy of a power play goal by Kuntz, with an assist from LeBlanc. Elmira kept up the pressure, eventually outshooting Guelph 12-7 (40-36 on the night). However, that was it for the scoring, and regulation time ended in a 3-3 tie.
Having opened the scoring, Jutzi put an end to it, beating Guelph keeper Chris McDougall at 3:53 of the extra frame, with help from Therrien and Shane Smith.
The key to the Kings’ success against Guelph was special teams. The power play capitalized on three of five chances, while the penalty killers were perfect in five attempts by the Hurricanes.
Jutzi, the night’s top scorer, said what the team really needed was just to keep playing hard.
“Coming off playing two rough games in two nights, we just had to keep it simple and get back to the basics. Hard work is what helped us on Sunday.”
Jutzi also noted that he doesn’t take the weekend’s two losses to mean anything negative about the team, simply that they are getting better with time.
“We are a young team so we are getting better with every shift and every game we play.”
The Kings play host to Waterloo tonight (Saturday) and to Brantford Sunday. Game time is 7 p.m. both nights.