The Elmira Sugar Kings extended their league-leading win streak to 10 games after beating the visiting Kitchener Dutchmen 5-4 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre on Oct. 2.
In a game that saw the Kings take a 5-1 lead after two periods, the Dutchmen came back in the third with three unanswered goals to make a real contest of it.
Kings forward Andrew Smith opened the scoring in the first period at 6:27 blasting a shot pass Kitchener netminder Jordan Lee, with Brett Priestap and Andrew Brubacher collecting assists.
The Kings would dominate the Dutchmen for the rest of the period, scoring on a power play that would see Riley Sonnenburg net his first of three for the game to take a 2-0 lead.
Kitchener came out strong in the second period, with Kyle Bezruki beating Kings’ goaltender Nick Coone just five minutes into the period.
The Kings recomposed themselves, controlling centre ice and hammering away at the defence while managing to net three more goals before the period was over.
Sonnenburg would pot his second goal of the night during an Elmira power play at 9:21 and made it a hat trick four minutes later after accepting a pass from Priestap and finding a hole between Lee and the right post.
Just a minute later, team captain Colton Wolfe-Sabo would score the Kings’ final goal of the night, with Lukas Baleshta and Brennon Pearce collecting the assists.
The third period saw a determined Kitchener team return to the ice. With Kings’ forward Smith off for a head-contact call, Dutchmen forward Eric Hammerl slipped the puck pass Coone at 4:29. The Dutchmen would take the game to Elmira, scoring two more goals four minutes apart: Bezruki with his second of the night, followed by Paul Galluci.
In the dying minute of the game Kitchener pulled their goaltender for a 6-on-5 play that would see the Kings tightly defend their zone and skate away with a win.
Elmira goaltender Coone finished the game with 28 saves, while Kitchener’s Lee made 52.
Head coach Dean DeSilva said his team did get a little complacent in the third period, for which they received a wakeup call.
“We talk about that before every game and before every period and it’s just part of being a teenager playing hockey: they don’t realize the thing that they did to get them success and got us the 5-1 lead. They just stopped doing because they didn’t think they had to do it anymore,” said DeSilva.
In the locker room the mood was a little somber as veteran players Wolfe-Sabo, Smith and Sonnenburg spoke to their team about the mistakes they made.
“We came in and got that big lead and the guys got a little too content thinking we have this one and started to relax too much. We were all at fault for doing that, but we have to take away the lessons from today’s game and we have to realize we can’t take any team for granted,” said Sonnenburg. “We are the team to beat in the league right now. We know we are getting their 100 per cent effort so we can’t let off the gas pedal. We learned our lesson.”
DeSilva said his team still has a lot of growing to do even though they are still unbeaten this season.
“We just have to keep on learning, never stop and realizing again it is easier to say the game is 5-1 but what got you to that it’s doing all those little things it’s going to take having them figure out that on their own and (this game) was a good lesson for them.”
The Sugar Kings are in St. Catharine’s today (Saturday) to face the Western Conference-leading St. Mary’s Lincolns (6-2) in the GOJHL showcase, and will be back at the WMC the following night to take on the visiting Owen Sound Greys (1-8).
Next month the Sugar Kings will be taking part in Movember, an annual month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November in support of prostate cancer research. Donations are currently being accepted at www.movember.com where a list of the Kings players can be found. The team is hoping to raise $2,000 for the cause.