Second Sutherland Cup for Skinner

Section: 
Sports

By Josh Howald

Ethan Skinner lifted the Sutherland Cup for the second time in three years Friday night.

The Kincardine native had two assists in a 4-1 win over the London Nationals in Game 5, which clinched the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League championship at Western Fair in London.

"It's pretty cool," Skinner said Monday morning. "The second (Sutherland Cup championship) was definitely a little tougher to get."

He set up Klayton Hoelscher late in the first period to put Elmira up 2-0. London cut the lead in half early in the third period, Mitch Hoelscher scored to make it 3-1 with 12:44 remaining. Skinner assisted on that goal, as well. The Sugar Kings put it away with a Jake Brown goal with 2:43 to go.

"I think we matched up well with London's style," said Skinner. "They played a similar game to us. It was a little easier for us to handle, the way they played. And (goaltender Jonathan) Reinhart kept us in every game. He brought us confidence, and that really let us focus on the little things."

Skinner finished this year's playoff run with 14 goals and 20 assists in 27 games.

The Sugar Kings thought their season was over after losing to the Listowel Cyclones in six games in the Cherrey Cup. However, Elmira ended up with a wildcard berth to the Sutherland Cup and then knocked off the defending champs from Caledonia in the semi-finals. The Nationals, meanwhile, eliminated the Cyclones - for whom Ethan's younger brother Danny patrolled the blue line.

"After we lost, we kind of took a step back," he said. "We got a little lucky in getting the wild card spot, and from there, we played with no weight on our shoulders. We kept things simple and really just tried to have fun. We had some luck getting by a strong Caledonia team."

He said after an opening round sweep of Guelph, there were no easy games. Kitchener pushed Elmira to six before the Sugar Kings lost the Midwestern Conference finals to a young, skilled team from Listowel. The Cyclones were probably the best team Elmira faced in the postseason, said Skinner.

"It's kind of tough to lose against your younger brother, but it was also pretty cool," he said.

"We had played with each other a few times, but we had never played against each other before. (Danny) has improved a lot in the last couple of years and Listowel had a very good team. They did, and he did, a lot better than anybody expected."

Two seasons ago Skinner scored a hat trick to help clinch the Sutherland Cup. Last season when Elmira was knocked out early, he joined the Trenton Golden Hawks of the Ontario Junior Hockey League for a run to the Buckland Cup, Dudley Cup and RBC Cup.

"Last season didn't go how we wanted it to (in Elmira)," said Skinner.

"It was fun to go on that run with Trenton and I was happy to see they are going to Cobourg (to the RBC Cup), they have a good team to get there."

This season started in British Columbia for Skinner. He signed with the British Columbia Hockey League's Merritt Centennials, but quickly decided he would be better off in the GOJHL with the Sugar Kings. He tallied 80 points, including 38 goals, in 46 regular season games this year.

He said meetings were planned for Monday night with the Elmira coaching staff, and that nothing had been determined as far as next season was concerned. He will be returning to Kincardine for the summer and work at Beisel Construction, as well as train with his brother.