(KINGSVILLE, ON) – Clutch scoring by Ivan Hodulov and Ludwig Niederbach led the Kingsville Kings to a 5-1 victory over the North Division champion, Almaguin Spartans. Many question marks revolved around the match up, as the two teams had never previously met on the ice.
The North Division is highly regarded for its level of parity among its top teams. That’s something the South Division has lacked. What resulted on Wednesday night was asymmetrical warfare, with Kingsville applying constant pressure on Almaguin’s goaltending tandem all night.
From early in the game, the Kings set the pace, but it would be the Spartans who struck first. With only 31 seconds to go in the first period, Almaguin’s Ludvig Nilsson sent a whistler from the slot past goalie Jan Pechek’s glove.
The Kings mood was pensive as they took to the ice for the second. Having fired 24 shots in the first frame, it seemed something had to give soon.
Kingsville’s Hodulov found twine halfway through the middle stanza with a rocket from the point. Less than two minutes later, Hodulov struck gold again knocking in a rare rebound past Almaguin’s Sebastien Demassa Carlson.
Kingsville’s third period started off with a bang, as Niederbach walked in on the Spartans net just 29 seconds in, and shelved the puck past Demassa Carlson on an odd-man rush. A minute and a half later, Niederbach netted another one off a Zack Zulkanycz rebound.
Not to be outdone, Belle River’s Steven Szekesy made the score 5-1 halfway through the period. After a brief timeout, the Spartans replaced Demassa Carlson with Tanner Emerson, who closed out the game.
Pechek collected the win for the home team, facing 35 shots, while Almaguin’s Carlson and Emerson were fed a heroic dose of rubber, combining to stop 57 shots in the game.
The Kings move to 1-0 in the Russell Cup championship round robin as the Spartans fall to 0-2, having lost 4-1 to the Tottenham Steam, Central Division champions, on Tuesday night.
The top team in the round robin gains a bye to the league final, as well as home advantage, while the two remaining teams play a single, sudden death game to determine the second team playing for the Russell Cup.
The Kings play next on Friday at 8:00pm, hosting the Steam in a much anticipated match up of top teams.