The Elmira Sugar Kings will have big shoes to fill this offseason following the unexpected departure of numerous key players, including the club’s starting goaltender and leading scorer.
The defending Cherrey Cup champions confirmed this week that netminder Jonathan Reinhart, forwards Mitch Klie, Cash Seraphim and Brendan Schneider as well as defenseman Adam Brubacher have all left the fold.
“It seems to be the way things are going in the Junior B ranks where guys are going to Junior A and now we’re losing guys to Junior C, it’s just an ongoing challenge to try to keep your team together,” Kings’ director of hockey operations Jeff Snyder said.
Reinhart played two seasons in Elmira, taking over the starting job last year. He led the club to a first-place finish in the Midwestern Conference during the regular season with 28 wins, a .922 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average. The Cambridge native will head out west to play for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL.
“That’s a move up for him,” Snyder said. “He feels that if he’s going to get a scholarship he’s got a better opportunity to get one if he goes out there”
Klie joined the Kings midway through the 2013-14 season, and took over as captain last summer. He led the club in scoring with 14 goals and 53 assists, adding another 22 points during the Sutherland Cup run.
Despite being a team leader and a GOJHL all star last season, the Cambridge native will move down to the Junior C ranks with the Ayr Centennials.
He’ll be joined by Cash Seraphim, who heads back to his hometown after two seasons in Elmira.
“Mitch Klie was our leading point producer during the year and also had a good playoff for us as well so obviously we’re going to miss his offensive contributions,” Snyder said. “Cash, he was hurt for part of the playoffs but still had a really good playoff for us. Both of them were key guys in our forward group and certainly, they will be missed.”
Asked why two top-end talents would decide to move down a level, Snyder said it might be in part because Junior C hockey allows guys to play an extra season. And Ayr is also closer to home for both players, he added.
Wellesley’s Brendan Schneider was a rookie last season, scoring 20 points. He’ll move down south to Upstate New York in the fall to play hockey at the Albany Academy prep school.
“That’s a big loss for us because we felt like he was going to be a big contributor offensively this coming year,” Snyder said. “He had a great rookie year, especially in the second half and we felt he played really well in the playoffs.”
Elmira native and three-year Kings’ veteran Adam Brubacher will play in the BCHL next season with the Prince George Spruce Kings.
An all-star defenseman, Brubacher scored 12 goals and 33 assists last season.
“I think he’s been a great Elmira Sugar King,” Snyder said. “I really like Adam. He’s a great kid and he’s a low-maintenance player. He just comes to the rink and plays hard every day and I think he’s been like that every year he’s been with Elmira. I think he had an outstanding year last year, just tremendous back there steady every night. He was a real key cog in our success and obviously we’re going to miss him. He’s really what our program is all about, he’s a great kid that is a good student that is constantly trying to get better. If we could have 20 guys like him we’d have a great team every year.”
To fill in some of the holes, Synder has been busy signing guys from across the province.
Signings include Jeff Jordan from the North Bay Trappers AAA squad of the great North Midget League. Jordan notched 75 points in 34 games last season to capture the league scoring title and most valuable player award.
The Kings also picked up: forward Tyler Jackson from the Trenton Golden Hawks, a Tier II Junior A club in the Ontario Junior Hockey League; forward Tyler Biles, a Georgetown native drafted by the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League in the twelfth round in 2014; and defenseman Colton Culbert from the Hanover Barons of the Ontario Hockey League Junior C ranks.