It was a hard-luck weekend for the Kings, as a peek at the scoreboard and the infirmary would confirm.
The Kings lost three in a row last weekend, surrendering twice on the road – to Listowel 9-3 January 11, then 2-1 to Brampton Saturday – before finally falling to Stratford 4-1 in Sunday’s home game.
The bad luck struck early, with an injury at the Thursday practice and three more in Friday night’s game, sidelining key players including scoring leader Brady Campbell.
“Brady will be out until playoffs, Justin Cook will be out until the second round of playoffs. James Mildon, we’re not sure when he’ll be back, probably around playoff time as well,” said head coach Dean DeSilva.
What would be a blowout in Listowel didn’t start off too badly, as the Kings drew first blood courtesy of Brandon Stewart, assisted by Zac Coulter and Matt Schieck, at 2:02 of the first frame. That’s where Elmira’s luck ran out, however, as Listowel took the reins for the next three goals, scoring at 5:03, 9:48 and 17:22.
The Cyclones had no intention of letting up in the second, quickly potting two more, at 2:28 and 5:19.
Stewart gave Elmira a glimmer of hope when he scored at 7:06 but the Cyclones were quick to smother it just seconds before the buzzer at 19:49, giving the home team a four-goal lead – 6-2 – going into the final frame.
Elmira held strong in the first half of the period, with Coulter even managing a goal at 10:58, but the Kings were just too far down the rabbit hole to clamber out. Listowel took the Kings down a few more pegs before the end with three more goals at 12:39, 17:49 and 18:07 to seal the convincing victory.
On Saturday, the Kings re-grouped for a stronger effort against the Brampton Bombers. The game proved to be a tough struggle as the Kings outshot the Bombers 14-6, yet failed to score, giving way to Brampton instead at 7:27.
In the second period, the opposition gained a two-point lead at 1:27. The rest of the frame saw a good effort from the Kings as they again dominated Brampton for shots, yet failed to score.
Getting tired by the third frame, a breakthrough came too late for the Kings who managed to make it a one-goal game at 15:11 courtesy of Craig Johnson. It would remain 2-1 at the final buzzer.
Sunday would be the tragic cake topper as the Kings failed to overcome the Stratford Cullitons. Again, the Kings struggled to catch up to an overwhelming lead.
The Kings found themselves on the defensive, as the puck kept finding its way back to their end until Stratford made it 1-0 at 12:06. Steven Jakiela would even up the game for most of the second frame with a goal at 3:42, but the tiebreaker would come from the Cullitons, who presented the Kings with what would prove to be an insurmountable lead, scoring at 17:48 and again at 19:36. The third frame was a struggle as Stratford fought to keep their lead intact, and the Kings made a last desperate attempt. It was Stratford that scored the only goal of final period at 17:09 to clinch the 4-1 victory.
It was a relatively clean game for the Kings who took 14 of the 34 penalty minutes. Despite the losses, the coaching staff remained optimistic. DeSilva was happy with the effort of the remaining players on the ice, he explained after Sunday’s game.
“I thought we played very well last night, we just couldn’t get a break. We played fairly well tonight, we made some mental errors, and we had too many men on the ice. It’ll come, we have a tough weekend next week, it’s going to be a lesson for them and it’ll just prepare us better for the playoffs.”
The Kings are on the road in Caledonia Friday night before returning home to face Cambridge on Sunday night. Game time is 7 p.m.