After a winless December, the Elmira Sugar Kings found January more to their liking as they downed the Listowel Cyclones 8-2 last Sunday, ending a seven-game winless streak at the same time.
The Kings showed no mercy to a shorthanded Listowel squad, scoring a trio of power play goals, a shorthanded goal and four more at even strength to win the game.
“Someone said to me, ‘do you feel bad?’” head coach Geoff Haddaway recounted. “I said I don’t feel bad for them; we’ve been short bodies all season long. You can’t look at it that way, but you certainly have to seize that opportunity and I thought our guys did a really good job of that.”
Jarred Parent scored first for the Kings, firing in a rebound on a shot from Jake Jefferies and Michael Therrien. Josh Woolley made it a 2-0 lead at 12:44, picking up a feed from Parent and Spencer MacCormack in the slot, wheeling and shooting it past keeper Brock Hansell.
In the second frame, Zach Salomon (Kody Ellis, Lukas Baleshta) built up the Kings’ lead further, neatly deking Hansell for a shorthanded goal and making the score 3-0.
The Cyclones made a move onto the scoreboard midway through the second with a power play goal from Dawson Smith.
The Kings’ power play kicked into gear at 13:29 when Brad Kraus and Andrew Smith crossed the puck to Jake Jefferies, who ripped a slapshot straight into the back of the net. With 40 seconds left in the second, Smith (Brennon Pearce, Jon Jutzi) notched a power play goal of his own, going top shelf on a rebound from Hansell.
Listowel opened the third period with a second power play goal from Dan Mohle, making the score 5-2. The rest of the game was about the Kings, who added three more in the final frame.
Tyson LeBlanc, from Jutzi and Therrien, converted with a third power play goal just eight seconds after the Listowel player headed to the box. At 9:50, Salomon picked up a feed from MacCormack, fired a shot over a sliding defender and Parent knocked the rebound in for his second of the game. With four minutes remaining, Therrien (Parent, Woolley) fired a shot that Hansell got a piece of but not enough and it trickled into the net.
In net for the Kings, Nick Horrigan stopped 35 shots.
Haddaway was pleased to see the Kings go three for six on the power play, an area that has been a bit of an Achille’s heel this season.
“Right before the break, we were starting to show some signs of power play life. We’ve given some ice time to guys who weren’t getting much power play time and they’ve come up with some great efforts. You’re not always necessarily going to score, but if you have strong puck pursuit and you’re creating good scoring chances, eventually that’s going to pay off.”
The win followed a 7-4 loss to Cambridge on Jan. 2, where the Kings saw a two-goal lead slip through their fingers.
Parent scored early in the first period and Riley Sonnenburg added another 6:25 in the second to give Elmira the lead. Matt Amadio put Cambridge on the board before Therrien restored the Kings’ lead to two.
But the Winter Hawks added three more in the second period – one from Mike Sones and a pair from Matt Reis – to take a 4-3 lead. Sones added another five minutes into the third to widen the margin.
Brad Kraus brought Elmira within one with a power play goal at 12:39, only to see Cambridge notch an unassisted goal and finally an empty net goal to win 7-4.
“We played a pretty good game, we just couldn’t come up with that killer instinct to put a team away,” Haddaway said. “We’ve got to realize those are situations where we’ve got to put our foot down and keep it down.”
Through a scheduling quirk, the Kings return to Cambridge Saturday (today) for a rematch against the Winter Hawks. It’s unusual to play the same team on the road a week apart, but Haddaway said it’s a good test for the Kings.
“Hopefully we can go in there Saturday to be a little hungrier and get an opportunity to show some killer instinct.”
The Kings return home Sunday to face the Stratford Cullitons, the team currently two points ahead of Elmira in the standings. The puck drops Sunday at 2 p.m.