The Elmira Sugar Kings’ playoff drive came to end Tuesday night at the WMC, as they fell 4-2 to the KW Siskins to lose the second-round series by the same split.
Facing elimination, the Kings had hoped the pattern of home-ice wins would repeat itself just one more time, but it was not to be.
With the series tied 1-1, the Siskins went ahead 2-1 with a win March 22. That was followed by 3-2 overtime victory by the Kings on March 24. The 3-2 margin was repeated on March 26, only with Waterloo victorious.
Home ice had been a definite advantage.
The March 22 game in Waterloo saw the Siskins score the lone goal of the first period to take a lead they’d never relinquish. In the second, they’d score two more before Elmira’s Dustin Good made it a 3-1 game with a power-play goal, assisted by Chris Black and Brock Reinhart.
It was 4-1 before the period ended, however, and Waterloo would score the sole goal of the third to make it a 5-1 win.
Shots were 28-18 in favour of the home side, who went 1-6 on the power play, while the Kings were 1-3. Elmira netminder Daniel Botelho stopped 23 of the shots he faced.
Outshot again in game four on home ice March 24, the Kings buried more of their chances to post a 3-2 OT win.
Jayden Lammel scored unassisted with just eight seconds left in the opening period to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. That lead would extend to 2-0 just 82 seconds after play resumed in the second when Reinhart scored, assisted by Logan Crans and Jackson Heron.
The Siskins would respond before the period was over, sending the teams back to the room tied 2-2. A scoreless third settled nothing, setting the stage for Liam Eveleigh’s overtime heroics at 15:37, his goal assisted by Luke Della Croce.
Shots were 37-19 in favour of Waterloo. The Kings were 0-2 on the power play, while the Siskins were 0-3, though they did manage a shorthanded goal in the mix. Botelho stopped 35 for the win.
Sunday night back in Waterloo, the game was a tighter contest.
Elmira opened the scoring at 6:28 courtesy of Heron (Brady Schwindt, Joey Martin), but Waterloo got that back just over four minutes later. It was 1-1 at intermission.
In the second, the Siskins scored twice to take a 3-1 lead. That’s how it would stand until the final minutes of the game, when Della Croce made it 3-2 at 18:34, assisted by Black and Martin. Goaltender Hayden Sabourin went to the bench for the extra skater, but it was 3-2 Waterloo when the buzzer sounded to end the game.
Waterloo’s shot advantage dropped to 32-30, but home-ice advantage still applied in the series. Neither team capitalized on the power play, Elmira 0-4 and Waterloo 0-5.
Tuesday night in Elmira, the Kings scored first, saw Waterloo got up 2-1 and then tie it at 2-2 before the first period was over. Goals came from Della Croce (Ian Speiran, Lammel) and Madden MacDougall (Adam Grein, Lammel).
The teams would remain tied until 14:46 of the third, when the Siskins took the lead. Elmira pulled Botelho for an extra attacker, but Waterloo sealed the win with an empty-net goal with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Shots were 26-18 in favour of the visitors, who went 1-5 on the power play, while the Kings were 0-3.
Obviously, it wasn’t the outcome head coach Scott McMillan was hoping for.
“It’s getting to be a little bit tighter,” he said of the play in the series ahead of Tuesday night’s deciding game, noting it was do or die for the team down 3-2.
“We can’t look forward to game seven – we’ve got to put everything into it [Tuesday].”