After last weekend’s performance on the ice at the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, perhaps a better name for the Elmira Sugar Kings would be The Comeback Kings. The local team trounced the Leamington Flyer’s after being down 2-0 at the end of the first period. The rebound in play was capped by three goals in the final five minutes of the game, bringing the final tally to 6-3.
Coming off of a 4-0 win against the Waterloo Siskins the previous night, the players began Sunday’s game a bit less prepared than they should have been, said head coach Geoff Haddaway.
“When we play a good game like the one against Waterloo, it’s easy to think, ‘Well, we played well last night. Why wouldn’t we do the same again tonight?’ But we need to remember that what happened yesterday means nothing. Each game is a new start and it could go either way.”
When the puck dropped at the top of the first period, the Flyers took charge quickly. Less than 30 seconds in, a giveaway by the Kings’ defence led to a pass to Leamington’s Kody Polin, who connected with forward Marco Canzoneri for an easy one-timer which put them on top early.
Throughout the first five minutes of play, it seemed as though the Kings were simply trying to keep up with the Leamington team. A high sticking call at the seven-minute mark undid a clean tipped-point shot, keeping the Kings off the scoreboard.
But when the Kings came out of the dressing room for a second time, they were a whole new team. For the last two periods of the game, the Sugar Kings outplayed the Flyers and outshot them 30 to 17.
“I didn’t say anything too dramatic in the change room between periods,” said Haddaway with a laugh. “I could go in there and yell and scream, but I didn’t. The leaders on our team did a great job of motivating the other guys. We could let the first period continue to be negative throughout the game, or we could respond and push back and in the end, that’s what we did.”
The Kings were playing more quickly, more sharply and more confidently, with their efforts paying off around eight minutes into the second period. Some solid forechecking along the boards led to a 2-on-1 situation close to the net; a give-and-go between Brady Campbell and Spencer MacCormack gave MacCormack just the chance he needed to get an easy tip-in for Elmira’s first goal of the game.
Then, just moments later, Brennon Pearce managed to score a rebound goal off a quick shot through traffic on the faceoff to tie the game up at 2-2.
Elmira’s new recruit this year, Cory Genovese, scored his first goal of the season, just before some more strong fore-checking from the Flyers allowed Leamington forward Matt Ogden to rifle it to the top shelf before the second buzzer rang.
The third period looked like it might push the teams into overtime as the score stayed at 3-3, a stalemate, for the majority of the period. But the Kings stepped up their game even further and notched yet another two points, with Jarred Parent and Andrew Smith scoring one apiece.
With time running out, Leamington gave it a last ditch effort and pulled the goalie, which led to an open-net goal by Zach Salomon with just one second left.
“As a coach, you look for benchmarks as you go through the season, and one thing you want to be able to say is that you can come from behind and win a hockey game,” said Haddaway. “We were able to take a situation that could have been a negative, and turn it into a positive.”