KINGS EARN TRIP TO SUTHER­LAND CUP DE­SPITE LOSS

Lis­towel comes back to take Cher­rey Cup, but points dif­fer­en­tial sees Elmira earn wild­card spot against Cale­do­nia

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - WHIT­NEY NEIL­SON

THE ELMIRA SUGAR KINGS may have lost out on the Cher­rey Cup for this year, but they’ve al­ready got their eyes on the next prize – the Suther­land Cup.

Sun­day’s 3-0 Game 6 win for Lis­towel earned the Cy­clones the Cher­rey Cup. But the sea­son is not over just yet, which must come as a re­lief to those Sugar Kings play­ing in their fi­nal year of ju­nior hockey.

With the best play­off win­ning per­cent­age and goal dif­fer­en­tial of the teams who lost in the fi­nals of the Greater On­tario Ju­nior Hockey League (GOJHL), the Sugar Kings earned their spot in the Suther­land Cup semi-fi­nals as the wild­card team.

Elmira and St. Catharines were tied for the win­ning per­cent­age, so it came down to a goal dif­fer­en­tial per­cent­age af­ter Game 6.

They’ll face Cale­do­nia in the semi-fi­nals which got rolling to­day (Apr. 13) in Cale­do­nia. Cale­do­nia has won the Suther­land Cup for the past three years.

“We’re for­tu­nate enough that we can still play so we’ve got to try to re­group this week and get ready for Game 1,” said head coach Ty Canal.

He says the coach­ing staff knew it was a pos­si­bil­ity head­ing into Sun­day’s game if they lost, but noth­ing was set in stone – and the goal was to win and head to Game 7 – so they didn’t tell the play­ers, which was ev­i­dent from their faces as they came off the ice af­ter the loss.

“The guys were ready to go and we were def­i­nitely try­ing to force Game 7 and the guys were up­set af­ter the loss. It’s tough to lose a se­ries like that. All the games were close. It’s tough, for sure. It def­i­nitely feels like a loss, whether we got into the wild­card or not,” Canal said.

Elmira started the se­ries with Lis­towel with two wins, be­fore Lis­towel came back to win four straight. This is ex­actly what Elmira did to Kitchener in the semi-fi­nals, where the Dutch­men had a two-game lead be­fore the Kings took it in six.

Last Fri­day in Lis­towel for Game 5, the Cy­clones took the game 2-1 in over­time. Lis­towel struck first with a late goal in the sec­ond from Hol­dyn Lansink, as­sisted by Tommy Hoog­ars.

Elmira’s Ja­cob Black evened the play­ing field five min­utes into the third frame, helped in by Zack Cameron and An­drew McIn­tyre.

In over­time, while Spencer Comelli was sit­ting out on a hold­ing call, Lis­towel took ad­van­tage of the power play op­por­tu­nity and Jakob Lee scored (Lansink, Cullen Mercer) to give Lis­towel a 3-2 lead in the Cher­rey Cup fi­nal, their first lead in the se­ries.

“Close games, they’re tough on both sides. I thought we played well. As the games went on I thought we got bet­ter be­tween the first and the sec­ond and the sec­ond and the third. Fri­day night I thought we played re­ally well. If it wasn’t our best, it was one of our top games against them on Fri­day,” Canal said.

Back home in Elmira Sun­day evening, it was do or die for the Kings. More than 1,500 peo­ple packed into the Dan Sny­der Arena where it was stand­ing room only, to see if Lis­towel would take the cup, or if Elmira would live to see an­other day.

But the Cy­clones came

ready to play, blank­ing the Sugar Kings 3-0 to take the cup for only the sec­ond time in Lis­towel’s fran­chise his­tory.

In the first pe­riod, while Tyler McBay was out for high stick­ing, Lis­towel’s Mercer put his team on the board. Max Coyle and Lansink pro­vided as­sists.

The sec­ond pe­riod saw no scor­ing. In the third, Lis­towel in­creased their lead with a goal from Lansink, helped in by Lee. And in the fi­nal min­utes when Elmira pulled goalie Jon Rein­hart to add an at­tacker, Lansink found the puck again and scored on the empty net to take the game.

“I don’t know what the real dif­fer­ence was. We got shots on net, we didn’t get a lot of odd man rushes or that type of off the rush. We tried to adapt to what Lis­towel was giv­ing us too. We knew we had to get pucks in low and in the sec- ond pe­riod [Sun­day] night I thought we did that well,” Canal said.

Canal says this se­ries was a full-team ef­fort, from Klay­ton Hoelscher play­ing good de­fen­sive hockey to Ja­cob Black step­ping up in the face­off cir­cle.

“McIn­tyre, he doesn’t take any­thing off. So he’s al­ways skat­ing, he’s al­ways work­ing. Jonny [Rein­hart] I thought played well as well, kept us in games. When we had a few lit­tle break­downs, Jon was there. Brown was play­ing two ways, Jordy was all over the ice. Cameron played a good two-way game.”

Game 2 is in Elmira on Sun­day at 7 p.m., fol­lowed by Game 3 on Apr. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Cale­do­nia, and Game 4 on Apr. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Elmira. Games 5, 6 and 7 will be played if nec­es­sary. Lis­towel will face the win­ner of the western con­fer­ence, the Lon­don Na­tion­als in the semi­fi­nals.

[WHIT­NEY NEIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Ethan Skin­ner skates up the ice on a break­away with more than 1,500 pairs of eyes on him in the Elmira Sugar King’s Game 6 loss to the Lis­towel Cy­clones. Lis­towel won the Cher­rey Cup and will go on to the Suther­land Cup. Elmira earned the wild­card spot in the Suther­land Cup se­ries and start the semi-fi­nals this week against Cale­do­nia.

[WHIT­NEY NEIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Cap­tain Jeff Jor­dan and Jon Rein­hart give high fives to fans in high five al­ley af­ter the game.

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