Sugar Kings revel in their Sutherland Cup win

Elmira skates to con­vinc­ing win over the Lon­don Na­tional in Game 5 to claim the pro­vin­cial Ju­nior B prize

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - LIZ BE­VAN

FOR THE FOURTH TIME, the Elmira Sugar Kings hoisted the Sutherland Cup as On­tario’s best Ju­nior B hockey club.

Af­ter de­feat­ing the Lon­don Na­tion­als in Game 5, hel­mets and gloves were strewn across the ice as the Kings’ bench cleared and the team jumped on each other in a cel­e­bra­tory bear hug. Be­fore the cel­e­bra­tion, the team fought their way to a 4-1 win in Lon­don at the Western Fair arena last Fri­day night.

The win gave the Greater On­tario Ju­nior Hockey League squad its first pro­vin­cial ti­tle since 2011.

Head coach Ty Canal says see­ing the cel­e­bra­tion was a great way to end their ex­tra-long sea­son.

“The guys were ob­vi­ously ex­cited. It was fun to watch, just the pure ex­cite­ment and joy on their faces for one an­other and they were def­i­nitely ex­cited. I don’t re­ally know how else to ex­plain it,” he said. “We played 27 play­off games. That is an­other half a sea­son in games, so there was a lot of hard work, a lot of ded­i­ca­tion and a lot of ups and downs they went through through­out the year to fi­nally be there. To be able to raise that tro­phy was some­thing spe­cial to see.”

Af­ter winning the first three games of the se­ries, the Kings had lost Game 4 at home on May 3, send­ing it back to Lon­don, where they dom­i­nated the game. Goalie Jonathan Rein­hart only let one goal get past him.

“I thought we played ex­actly how we needed to play. Be­sides Lon­don get­ting an early goal in the third, but I mean, it was ex­pected that they would have some fight back. I think we got off to a great start, and we got the first goal this time and built on that,” said Canal. “Our penalty kill was strong, our power play got a goal, the game win­ner, and in the third pe­riod we just had to make sure we didn’t give up a lot. Lon­don had a lot of fire­power, but our guys did a great job hold­ing it to­gether, keep­ing them to the out­side and tak­ing care of the tight ar­eas that we needed to. We played well with and with­out the puck, and it was a good hockey game for us.”

The Kings started scor­ing in the first with a marker from Ja­cob Black, as­sisted by Zack Cameron and Tyler McBay. Klay­ton Hoelscher brought the tally to two on the power play with one minute and forty sec­onds left in the pe­riod, helped along by Jake Brown and Ethan Skin­ner.

Af­ter a score­less sec­ond pe­riod, Lon­don got one on the board from Quinn Leni­han, as­sisted by Bren­den Trot­tier and Austin Kemp. Elmira blocked any other scor­ing chances from Lon­don, while pot­ting two more of their own goals. The first came from Mitch Hoelscher (Jeff Jor­dan, Skin­ner) and the sec­ond from Brown, unas­sisted.

As soon as the fi­nal buzzer sounded, the cel­e­bra­tions be­gan. The Sutherland Cup was brought out on to the ice, and each player took a turn skat­ing with the cup above their heads, some kiss­ing it.

For the five play­ers that are mov­ing on from Ju­nior B hockey and the Sugar Kings next year, Canal says it was a great way to end their ca­reers in ju­nior hockey.

“There is def­i­nitely no bet­ter way to fin­ish your ju­nior ca­reer than to be able to raise a tro­phy,” he said.“There are not a lot of play­ers that can say they did that. It def­i­nitely goes out to those guys, and also the guys that are first year in the league, or the guys who have played a cou­ple of years that haven’t won a tro­phy. All of that stuff came to­gether and all of them should def­i­nitely be proud and ex­cited about all that they have ac­com­plished this year.”

While the sea­son may be end­ing on a high note, it wasn’t al­ways easy for the guys, but they worked through the lows and came to­gether.

“The guys never stopped work­ing, they never stopped com­pet­ing and I think the big thing is that they never stopped be­liev­ing they could do it. It didn’t mat­ter what hap­pened, the ups, the downs, los­ing the Cher­rey Cup, the guys never stopped be­liev­ing in the end goal. We are for­tu­nate enough that we came out on top,” said Canal. “I think that is a great thing, when you have a team doesn’t stop be­liev­ing in one an­other, they don’t ride the roller coaster too high or too low through­out the play­offs. I thought a lot of that shows the char­ac­ter that the play­ers have. They are will­ing to play for one an­other, and do what it takes. It is just fun to see.”

The Sugar Kings earned them­selves the wild­card spot in the Sutherland Cup play­offs af­ter los­ing the Mid­west­ern Con­fer­ence ti­tle, and the Cher­rey Cup, to the Lis­towel Cy­clones in six games. They were tied with St. Catharines in winning per­cent­age, so it came down to goal dif­fer­en­tials af­ter Game 6 against the Cy­clones.

In the first round of the Sutherland Cup play­offs, the Kings de­feated the Cale­do­nia Cor­vairs of the Golden Horse­shoe Con­fer­ence in six, and the Western Con­fer­ence cham­pion Na­tion­als took out the Cy­clones be­fore meet­ing Elmira in the fi­nals.

Elmira won the first three games of the Lon­don se­ries (3-2, 2-0, 4-1) be­fore giv­ing up Game 4.

The Kings fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son with a 3811-1 record and no over­time losses. In the play­offs, they fin­ished with 18 wins and nine losses.

The team’s end-of-sea­son awards ban­quet will be held on June 4 at the Elmira Lions Hall at 1 p.m.

The Elmira Sugar Kings cel­e­brated their fourth Sutherland Cup win on Fri­day night in Lon­don. The team won Game 5 against the Lon­don Na­tion­als, mak­ing them the top Ju­nior B hockey club in On­tario.

[LIZ BE­VAN / THE OBSERVER]

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