Kings swept by Cale­do­nia in Suther­land Cup semis

No re­peat for Elmira squad whose sea­son came to an end with 8-1 loss Tues­day night at the WMC

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS -

THE ELMIRA SUGAR

KINGS skated off the ice Tues­day evening for the fi­nal time this sea­son fol­low­ing a four-game sweep by Cale­do­nia in the Suther­land Cup semi-fi­nals.

For some, this would be the fi­nal out­ing of their Ju­nior B ca­reers.

A sense of déjà vu seemed to be fall­ing on the Elmira Sugar Kings up un­til this point. Last year saw the team lose to the Lis­towel Cy­clones in the Cher­rey Cup fi­nals, but their suc­cess in the play­offs helped to push them through as the wild­card to the Suther­land Cup fi­nals and their de­ter­mi­na­tion drove them to de­throne the reign­ing cham­pion Cale­do­nia Cor­vairs in the semi-fi­nals to win the cup against Lon­don.

On pa­per they seemed to be trav­el­ling down the same road. De­spite a new head coach, a dif­fer­ent ros­ter and a rather rocky early reg­u­lar sea­son, the boys wear­ing green and gold found them­selves play­ing the Cale­do­nia Cor­vairs in the Suther­land Cup semi-fi­nals via a wild­card berth fol­low­ing a Cher­rey Cup loss to the Lis­towel Cy­clones.

How­ever, that all came to an end Tues­day evening when Cale­do­nia got revenge for last sea­son’s end­ing.

The se­ries got un­der­way April 11, and while the first cou­ple of games were close, things got worse from there for the Kings.

Head­ing to Cale­do­nia for their first game, the Kings lost in over­time af­ter some late-game hero­ics from re­cent OHL draftee Brody Wa­ters tied things up for vis­i­tors.

With Tyler Maz­zo­cato still out of the lineup, backup goalie Rhett Kim­mel stepped up, stop­ping 51 of the 56 shots on net in a tight 5-4 OT loss. Miss­ing Ethan Wise­man, Ryan Taka­matsu and Tyler Beau­par­lant, the Kings were in a tough spot right off the hop – the three had a com­bined 35 points in the play­offs, ac­count­ing for 24 per­cent of the Kings of­fence in the post­sea­son. De­spite the lineup changes, the team per­se­vered stay­ing com­pet­i­tive through­out all four pe­ri­ods.

Jeff Jor­dan stepped up and scored the first goal at 9:22 into the first from Zach Cameron.

Cale­do­nia tied it up with just 29 sec­onds left in the first.

Ex­tend­ing their lead, Cale­do­nia scored two more in the first half of the sec­ond. Not to be out­done, Matt MacKay scored short­handed and unas­sisted at 11:17. And Ethan Skin­ner tied it all up with less than three in the sec­ond with a man ad­van­tage from Jor­dan and Jere­mey Good­win.

Cale­do­nia was quick to an­swer, tak­ing back the lead. The goal of the game, how­ever, went to Brody Wa­ters, a callup drafted by the Owen Sound At­tack in the OHL draft ear­lier this week, who scored with just 2:30 left in the third, with an as­sist from Damian Figueira, to make it 4-4. It was off to over­time. Af­ter a back-and-forth bat­tle that lasted 17 min­utes, Cale­do­nia fired a rocket from the blue line, find­ing the net and giv­ing the home team the first win of the se­ries.

Al­ready last year’s play­book was al­tered, as it was the Kings who took the first two games of last year’s se­ries, ul­ti­mately win­ning in six.

With that game over the Kings had a quick turn­around for their first home game last Thurs­day night.

The team hon­oured those lost in the fa­tal ju­nior hockey bus crash last week in Humboldt, Saskatchewan with a mo­ment of si­lence. The team also do­nated 50/50 and matched it to the GoFundMe cam­paign.

Kim­mel stole the show once again Thurs­day night, hold­ing the Kings through a game that went into dou­ble over­time. The backup goalie proved he de­served his place in net, and his fu­ture with the Kings is promis­ing. Both teams were tired, and it was ap­par­ent. A wild five-goal first pe­riod set the stage for what would be a 7-6 Cale­do­nia vic­tory in five frames.

The Cor­vairs drew first blood half­way through the open­ing 20 min­utes, with Elmira’s Skin­ner, from Tyler Biles and Spencer Comelli, re­spond­ing in short or­der.

Just two min­utes later, Cameron (Jor­dan, Biles) gave Elmira a 2-1 lead, but be­fore the buzzer went Cale­do­nia scored twice, in­clud­ing a power-play marker, to re­gain the lead at 3-2.

The vis­i­tors kept things rolling af­ter the in­ter­mis­sion, scor­ing twice be­fore the mid­dle frame was seven min­utes old.

How­ever, the Cor­vairs got into some penalty trou­ble, giv­ing both Skin­ner (J. Good­win, Jor­dan) and Biles (Jor­dan, Cameron) an op­por­tu­nity to score with the man ad­van­tage.

Now in the third, Ma­son McMa­hon needed just 24 sec­onds to score, from Comelli and Biles, mak­ing it 5-5.

From there, Cameron took a pass from Biles out front on the power play at 13:21 and sent it top shelf, to put the home side up 6-5.

How­ever, the ex­cite­ment was short-lived, as Cale­do­nia tied it up with only two min­utes left.

It was off to over­time for the sec­ond night in a row.

Af­ter no scor­ing for ei­ther side through the first OT, Cale­do­nia needed just seven min­utes to score a text­book goal in dou­ble over­time, tak­ing the win.

Down 2-0 in the se­ries, the Kings got an un­sched­uled in­ter­lude when both week­end games were post­poned due to the poor weather, Fri­day’s game pushed back to Mon­day and Sun­day’s game four played Tues­day.

The ex­tra time gave Maz­zo­cato a chance to come back into the net to fin­ish off the se­ries.

Mon­day night in Cale­do­nia, the home team didn’t need over­time to post a 4-1 win, ex­tend­ing their lead 3-0 in the se­ries.

Cale­do­nia’s Jesse Bar­well scored just five min­utes into the first and again with a man ad­van­tage over the Kings at 10:45.

In the sec­ond, Cale­do­nia added an­other one to the board. How­ever, Biles de­feated any hope of a shutout, scor­ing on the power play from Jor­dan and Cameron with five min­utes left in the sec­ond.

That would be their only goal of the game, how­ever, with Cale­do­nia adding one more with a man ad­van­tage for good mea­sure.

Play­ing the fourth game in less than week, the Kings came un­rav­elled at home Tues­day night on route to an 8-1 loss. Biles (Skin­ner, Jor­dan) picked up Elmira’s lone goal.

Plagued with in­juries, the Kings were never on a good foot­ing in the se­ries.

Biles knows next year shows a lot of prom­ise but for now he has fond mem­o­ries of the sea­son past.

“It’s been amaz­ing. I made 22 broth­ers – love ’em all.”

And with the sea­son over, Skin­ner, Jor­dan, Taka­matsu, Beau­par­lant, Wise­man, Comelli and Bray­don Munn have re­tired as Kings.

Jor­dan, who served as cap­tain for two of his three years as a King, had some fi­nal words fol­low­ing his last ju­nior game.

“I’ve been re­ally hon­ored to be able to play my whole ju­nior ca­reer for one or­ga­ni­za­tion and such a great one. I just don’t know the words to de­scribe what it’s meant to me. Thanks for the con­tin­ued sup­port over the three years that I’ve been here. Win­ning a Suther­land Cup was re­ally spe­cial, and to be able to bring it back to Elmira and just to hear the Sny­der go­ing ev­ery night ... like at the end of tonight, the fans stayed and gave us a round of ap­plause. I can’t thank them enough for that,” he said.

“It has been a huge honour to rep­re­sent such a good or­ga­ni­za­tion on and off the ice, re­ally can’t put into words what they have done for me over the three years.”

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

The Elmira Sugar Kings’ sea­son came to an end Tues­day night fol­low­ing a four-game sweep in the Suther­land Cup semi-fi­nals. Damian Figueira shakes hands with the Cale­do­nia Cor­vairs who are off to play ei­ther Lis­towel or Lon­don for the cup.

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