Four-game streak comes to end as Kings drop a pair

Elmira has a rough week­end, edged in over­time by Strat­ford be­fore fall­ing to the vis­it­ing Kitch­ener Dutch­men

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - FAISAL ALI

AF­TER PICK­ING UP A se­ries of back-to-back wins over the past three weeks, the Sugar Kings fi­nally fell to the com­pe­ti­tion this week­end. Fac­ing the Strat­ford War­riors Fri­day evening on away ice, the Kings bat­tled the home team to a near stand-still, knot­ting the score­board 2-2 over the 60-min­utes be­fore fall­ing in over­time. Re­turn­ing to home ice Sun­day, the Kings suf­fered a se­cond set­back against the Kitch­ener Dutch­men, who once again edged out the Elmira team this sea­son.

The pair of losses put an end to the Kings’ fourgame win­ning streak that started with their se­cond match of the sea­son.

It was the Strat­ford War­riors that ended the win­ning stretch on Oc­to­ber 5. The Kings claimed an early lead on the road, but ended up fall­ing in over­time.

“Our ef­fort was there on Fri­day. Miss­ing a few pieces but, no, we didn’t get the job done,” said head coach Trent Brown. “We weren’t good enough and we were mak­ing some costly men­tal mis­takes, too many turnovers late in the game.

“Deal­ing with ad­ver­sity and guys not pre­pared to start the game, and that echoed again Sun­day where we were just com­pletely out­worked and out-bat­tled and that wasn’t good enough, espe­cially at home.”

Pick­ing up the first point of the match was Elmira’s Hunter Dubecki on the power play, 14-and-a-half min­utes into first, with Jonah Bur­ley and Isaac Tay­lor claim­ing the as­sists. It was the lone goal for the first two frames, putting the Kings in the lead for the first 40 min­utes.

There was no scor­ing in the se­cond, but no short­age of ac­tion ei­ther. Elmira got slapped with a num­ber of penal­ties in the first half of the pe­riod, but the de­noue­ment came af­ter the bell had rung, with a fight send­ing Strat­ford’s Nick Jung and Elmira’s Damian Figueira off the ice with some ma­jor in­frac­tions.

Per­haps miss­ing Figueira’s de­fen­sive power, the Kings started to take a hit in the fi­nal stanza of the game.

Strat­ford got on the board at 4:30 of the third, ty­ing the game at 1-1. The War­riors then pot­ted a se­cond, 10 min­utes later, putting them in the lead now with less than five min­utes to go.

It was Brody Wa­ters who got the teams back on equal foot­ing. Just sec­onds af­ter the War­riors slot­ted their se­cond point, the Elmira player tied things up at 2-2 and push­ing the game into over­time. Pick­ing up as­sists were Dubecki and Jere­mey Good­win.

“He’s been great. We al­ways know what we’re go­ing to get from Brody,” said Brown. “He’s go­ing to play his hard­est. We knew he was go­ing to be a good player, but I didn’t think we would get th­ese kind of of­fen­sive num­bers from him this early. There’s no ques­tion that it was go­ing to come, but he’s been train­ing hard and he de­serves it.”

Wa­ter’s is one of sev­eral new­com­ers to the Kings’ ros­ter this year, who Brown notes have been sig­nif­i­cantly con­tribut­ing to the team.

“It’s re­ally great for them to con­trib­ute. And hope­fully it’s a lit­tle bit of a wake-up call for the guys who’ve re­turned and who had thought they were just go­ing to walk in and start con­tribut­ing. But th­ese young guys are re­ally push­ing them.”

Over­time proved to be any­one’s game as both teams were fairly evenly matched. The fi­nal goal, when it came, was from Strat­ford’s An­drew Gun­lock 3:21 into the ex­tended game time, and end­ing the match in the hosts’ favour 3-2.

Spe­cial teams were a fac­tor for the Kings, who went 1-3 on the power play but, per­haps more im­por­tantly, held the War­riors score­less in five tries.

Af­ter Fri­day’s nar­row loss, the Kings had the op­por­tu­nity to make hay Sun­day evening in a home matchup against the Kitch­ener Dutch­men.

You can bet the Kings were up for this one, have been soundly beaten 4-0 by the Dutch­men in the first game of the sea­son. De­spite the home ice ad­van­tage, the Kings fell again, but this time by a nar­rower 4-2 dif­fer­ence.

“To be hon­est, I don’t have a lot of pos­i­tive things to say about Sun­day,” said coach Brown. “We were just short of be­ing em­bar­rassed on our home rink. Kitch­ener played three games in three days that week­end – they played Fri­day, Satur­day, Sun­day – we had an off day on Satur­day, and we weren’t ready to play.

“They’re a team that just works hard,” he added of the Dutch­men. “They’ll play an hon­est game.”

The Kings took the lead in this game as well. Draw­ing first blood 12 min­utes into the first was Elmira’s Zack Cameron (Tyson

Hil­lier, Dubecki).

How­ever, re­spond­ing just sec­onds later, at 12:28, was Kitch­ener’s Alex Peter­son (Kole Scott), knot­ting the game up 1-1 for the re­main­der of the pe­riod.

The Dutch­men dou­bled down on the goal five min­utes into the se­cond frame with a power play marker, putting them ahead 2-1.

Elmira’s Hil­lier (Dubecki, Good­win) re­sponded at 17:25, ty­ing the game for a se­cond time. It was 2-2, but with just a minute left on the clock, Kitch­ener came back with the gamede­cid­ing goal, set­ting them 3-2 for the fi­nal 20 min­utes of game time.

The fi­nal frame saw no scor­ing un­til the last minute of the match, with the Dutch­men cap­ping off the scor­ing with an emp­tynet­ter to make it 4-2.

In power plays, Kitch­ener had the de­ci­sive edge, get­ting seven man-ad­van­tages and scor­ing once. The Sugar Kings proved to play the less dis­ci­plined game, get­ting four op­por­tu­ni­ties and scor­ing on none.

Suf­fer­ing back-to-back losses af­ter a four-game win­ning streak, the Sugar Kings slipped in the di­vi­sion rank­ings over the week­end to fifth place at 4-2-0-1. That’s nar­rowly be­hind fourth place’s Dutch­men (5-4).

The Kings will be fac­ing a sin­gle team this week­end, the Brant­ford 99ers, fol­lowed by a re­match against Kitch­ener and Strat­ford the week af­ter. On Satur­day, the Kings will be away to take on the 99ers in a 7 p.m. matchup.

Af­ter a week’s rest, the Sugar Kings will be back on home ice the fol­low­ing week­end, Oc­to­ber 21, for a re­match against the War­riors. The Kings will then take on the Dutch­men dur­ing the week – Oc­to­ber 23 – for an away game.

“We’ve got some wins to­gether this sea­son, and that’s fan­tas­tic, but we haven’t beat any­body that’s above us in the stand­ings yet. The take­away, I would say, is that we can’t take a night off,” said Brown.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

Sugar King Tyson Hil­lier gets into a scuf­fle with the vis­it­ing Kitch­ener Dutch­men Oct. 7 at the WMC. De­spite keep­ing within one goal of Kitch­ener for most of the game, the Kings ul­ti­mately fell 4-2, with an empty-net­ter cap­ping off the ac­tion.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

The Sun­day matchup against the vis­it­ing Kitch­ener Dutch­men was a scrappy af­fair. Top left, Brock McKen­zie joins the scuf­fle at the Dutch­men’s net; right, Hunter Dubecki rushes to join the fray. Bot­tom, Jonah Bur­ley is on ice; McKen­zie takes a spill but quickly re­cov­ers.

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