The Elmira Sugar Kings put on a show for the 830 fans that piled into the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena for last Sunday’s home opener, notching their first win on home ice this season by defeating the Kitchener Dutchmen 3-0.
Despite two veteran Kings players being eliminated from the game due to misconduct penalties, the team dominated play throughout all three frames, outshooting the Dutchies 31-23.
“Some of the newer players got more ice time than we planned because of the penalties,” said team coach Geoff Haddaway. “But it was baptism by fire and they played well.”
Despite the powerplay opportunites, the Kitchener team was not able to capitalize on any of their seven chances with the man advantage while two of Elmira’s three goals came on the powerplay.
Just past the halfway point in the first period, quick handiwork by returning Kings player Lukas Baleshta, as well as some help from captain Josh Woolley and newcomer Colton Wolfe-Sabo, was all it took to get the Kings on the board for the first time this season. Baleshta fired the puck off the post and found space in the high slot, eliciting an excited cheer from the amped up crowd.
Throughout the period, the Kings came out hungry and played a tough, physical game, a style of play that continued after the team hit the ice in the second period when Jarred Parent (from Colton Wolfe-Sabo, Spencer MacCormack) scored a quick goal on the powerplay little more than a minute into the frame.
Former Waterloo Siskin player Wolfe-Sabo made a name for himself with the fans early on this season, notching two points in his first two periods of play.
“We are happy to have him on the team, like all of our new guys,” said Haddaway. “He came to us because of scheduling conflicts with the Siskins and we’re grateful for that.”
With a two-goal lead, the Kings could have shifted to a more defensive game in the third period but they continued to play hard and Zach Solomon (MacCormack, Andrew Smith) took a quick shot on net, followed up on the rebound then got a second chance and his backhanded shot got past the sprawled Kitchener goaltender, putting the Kings even further ahead.
“I’m really pleased with the way that the first game went, but I am not surprised,” said Haddaway. “We picked these guys because we believe in them. They put out a pretty good effort for the first game but we can’t get ahead of ourselves and start celebrating too soon. We still have a lot of work to do.”
The coach said the Kings spent the week polishing up their systems in preparation for Friday night’s matchup with Stratford. On Sunday, the Kings return home to take on Guelph. Game time is 7 p.m.