Still com­ing to­gether, Kings drop pair to open the sea­son

GOJHL Show­case in Brant­ford sees losses to Caledonia, Lon­don. Team opens at home Sun­day

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - FAISAL ALI

START­ING THE SEA­SON AT the GOJHL Show­case in Brant­ford, the Elmira Sugar Kings may have had a few things on dis­play last week­end, but wins weren’t one of them. The team dropped both games at the event, 4-3 to Caledonia and 5-2 to Lon­don.

Play­ing at the Wayne Gret­zky Sports Cen­tre, the Kings were the vis­i­tors in Satur­day night’s match against the Pro-Fit Cor­vairs, tak­ing the loss when the home team scored twice in the fi­nal 20 sec­onds to eke out a win.

Elmira took the lead in the open­ing pe­riod, with for­ward Zack Cameron draw­ing first blood, with as­sists from fel­low for­ward Ethan Skin­ner and de­fense­man Dy­lan Bond. Caledonia then evened the count in the next pe­riod, set­ting the stage at 1-1 for what would be the dra- matic and chaotic fi­nal 20 min­utes of the game.

Five min­utes into the third frame, Elmira for­ward Kur­tis Good­win (from Ma­son McMa­hon and Spencer Comelli) put the Kings up 2-1. Just 20 sec­ond later, for­ward Matt Mackay ex­tended that lead with an­other goal, as­sisted by Ty Biles and Jonah Bur­ley.

With the score­board stand­ing at 3-1 and less than 15 min­utes on the clock, it seemed the Kings had a pretty good shot at pick­ing up two point. It was not to be.

Caledonia scored the next goal with roughly nine min­utes to spare, mak­ing the score 3-2. Af­ter that, Elmira held the line, let­ting noth­ing past but get­ting noth­ing through. The clock wound down with both sides un­able to change the game. With one-and-a-half min­utes to go, Caledonia, des­per­ate for at least one more point, pulled their goalie for some more fire­power. They were fight­ing for one point; in­stead they got two.

With 20 sec­onds left and an ex­tra attacker on the ice, Caledonia knot­ted things up 3-3. And then, with only eight sec­onds on the clock, Caledonia got the go-ahead marker, the score 4-3 when the buzzer sounded.

“I thought we car­ried the play for a good chunk of the game,” said Jeff Snyder, di­rec­tor of hockey op­er­a­tions for the Kings. “Just had a bad 20 sec­onds at the end of the game that cost us. But that’s prob­a­bly the team to beat in On­tario and we were right there with them for the whole game, played re­ally well so we’re pretty happy with that per­for­mance.

“It was our first game for a lot of guys, and we’re pretty happy with that game.”

It was a close game for the Kings, with the team dom­i­nat­ing right up un­til the last mo­ments. The next day’s matchup against the Lon­don Na­tion­als would not be quite so close.

Play­ing once more at the Gret­zky main rink on Sun­day, the Sugar Kings and Lon­don team faced off in a match that was sim­i­lar to Satur­day’s only in that most of the scor­ing came in the fi­nal frame.

Sugar King’s for­ward Bai­ley Molella pot­ted their team’s first just 30 sec­onds into the game, with for­wards Ryan Taka­matsu and Jeff Jor­dan claim­ing as­sists.

It was a strong way to start the game for the Kings, but from there, the team strug­gled to press the ad­van­tage. Lon­don tied things up in the sec­ond, mak­ing it 1-1 head­ing into what would be a wild third pe­riod.

Lon­don quickly went ahead with a power play goal in the first 18 sec­onds. Elmira pushed back min­utes later, with for­ward Keanan Ste­wart (Matt Mur­ray) evening things at 2-2.

From there, Lon­don went on a ram­page. They broke through the Kings’ de­fences in the fi­nal quar­ter of the frame, scor­ing one, and then an­other and then the fi­nal point of the match. Elmira pulled their goalie leav­ing the net open for that fi­nal point by Lon­don, which ended with their 5-2 loss.

“We came out and got off to a pretty good start,” said Snyder about the match against Lon­don. “But then they seemed to kind of take over the play part­way through the game, and the game didn’t go quite as well hoped

“We weren’t quite as happy with our per­for­mance Sun­day, I think,” he added.

“We need our top for­wards to gen­er­ate a bit more of­fense than we did on the week­end. We didn’t gen­er­ate a lot of of­fense, es­pe­cially Sun­day night. But it’s early in the year and it al­ways takes time to gel your team, but we knew it was going to be a tough week­end.”

It wasn’t a good start, but Snyder said he is con­fi­dent the team can re­cover. Some more prac­tice, he says, and a bit of time will help the team re­ally come to­gether.

With play back in the Mid­west­ern Con­fer­ence, the Kings will be in Lis­towel Fri­day night to take on the Cy­clones. The home-opener goes Sun­day af­ter­noon at 2 p.m. as the Guelph Hur­ri­canes blow into town. Sun­day’s game at the WMC will also be pre­ceded by a cer­e­mony to mark last sea­son’s Suther­land Cup cham­pi­onship.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited about Sun­day. They’re rais­ing the ban­ner for us win­ning the Suther­land Cup last year, and we’re pre­sent­ing the rings to the play­ers, so that’ll be an ex­cit­ing day,” said Snyder.

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