Before they could switch into Christmas mode, the Elmira Sugar Kings were on the road to close out 2018, splitting a pair of games in Brampton and Waterloo.
Things went well in a 5-1 win over the Bombers on December 21, but that wasn’t the case December 23 when the Kings fell 3-2 versus the Siskins.
The split saw the Kings land in fourth place prior to the holiday break, part of a close grouping at the top of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Midwestern Conference. Just four points separates Waterloo’s 45 from Elmira’s 41, with the Listowel Cyclones (43) and Stratford Warriors (42) sandwiched in between.
The Bombers quickly drew first blood, scoring just 45 seconds in. They may have scored early, but not often, as this would be their lone goal for the entire game. Isaac Taylor, assisted by Karson Massey and Ty Biles, put the Kings on the board at 8:18, followed by a goal from Kurtis Goodwin less than a minute later at 9:09. Jacob Black and James Valente picked up assists. That put Elmira up 2-1 going into the first intermission, a lead they would never relinquish.
The second period was noticeably rougher, with seven penalties between both teams. Despite that, Elmira kept focused, with Anthony Azzano (Massey, Hunter Dubecki) potting another one at 1:13. Zack Cameron (Dubecki, Brock McKenzie) scored another goal for good measure at 11:07, giving Elmira a significant advantage (4-1) headed into the final frame.
The last period remained rough with six more penalties, but little scoring, save for a lone goal by Elmira’s Black at 3:24, with Cameron and Isaac Taylor picking up assists. The score remained 5-1 right through the final buzzer.
It was a different picture a couple of days later in Waterloo, where scoring was harder to come by. The opening frame on December 23 featured just one goal, a Siskins marker at 5:36.
The second period saw just one goal, too, but this time it was Elmira getting on the board courtesy of Goodwin (Black, Cameron) at 14:36, though the Kings were outshot 22-9 (44-27 overall at game’s end).
Things were looking good for the Kings early on in the frame, with Azzano taking advantage of the power play to pot a goal at 1:10, as Goodwin and Black picked up assists. The 2-1 lead would hold up for much of the period until the Siskins pulled their goalie in favour of an extra attacker. Sam Spaedt scored at 17:52, knotting the game at 2-2. The goal gave Waterloo the momentum they needed to score the final goal at 19:15.
The quick change of fortunes saw tempers flare, with the Kings picking up a roughing penalty and a misconduct, while a Siskin got dinged for two minutes for leaving the bench.
The Sugar Kings (19-8-0-3) hope to have a little more success in this weekend’s games, hitting the road to take on the second-place Listowel Cyclones (20-7-0-3) tomorrow (January 4) at 7:30 p.m. Their next game will be at the WMC on Sunday, when they face the Brampton Bombers (6-21-0-3). The puck drops at 2 p.m.