There’s only a few things standing between the Princeton Posse and the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s (KIJHL) President’s Cup, awarded annually for the top team after the regular season.
Those would be 23 young men representing the North Okanagan Knights.
And the Knights aren’t even in the running for the prize.
Playoffs begin Feb. 17, but before that the Posse play their last two regular season games, both against North Okanagan, Friday, Feb. 10, and Saturday, Feb. 11.
If they win both contests – with the Posse’s record against the Knights so far this season being 3-1 – Princeton’s victory over the league’s other 17 squads is assured.
“That really is our personal preference,” said head coach Mark Readman.
Because there would be nothing the Revelstoke Grizzlies or Columbia Valley Rockets could do about it.
Those are the other two franchises within striking distance of the President’s Cup.
Last weekend, the Posse beat Summerland 7-2 and then suffered a uncharacteristic meltdown in Grand Forks losing 7-3.
“Saturday was a little bit of an unorthodox game for us. It felt like from the beginning we were fighting the puck,” said Readman.
“Our legs started to go and we struggled at extending possession…
“It seemed like everything they were throwing at the net was hitting the stick and going in.”
Still, on Monday the Posse remained at the head of the league with 66 points.
The Grizzlies and the Rockies both have 63 points, while Revelstoke had three games to make up the distance and Columbia Valley had only two.
The Rockies lost 6-4 last Sunday, Feb. 5, to the Fernie Ghostriders to remain three points behind Princeton.
“The clubs that are kind of chasing that title are quality hockey teams,” said Readman.
“(However) if you are placing bets I think we’d probably have the favourable odds.”
Readman is not discounting divisional third-place North Okanagan as a credible threat.
“They made some moves at the (trade) deadline to improve their group. I think they’ve been riding along pretty steady.”
The Knights have won their last four games.
“I’m expecting two hard-fought hockey games for our last of the regular season.”
The Posse has already clinched the Bill Ohlhausen Division title for just the second time in the team’s 20-year history.
Princeton faces fourth-place Summerland in the first playoff round. The division second-place Osoyoos Coyotes will have home-ice advantage for their divisional semifinal against North Okanagan.
There are four rounds in total, with each series played over 12 days.
“We will be consistent in our game. We’ve found our recipe and our group is extremely mature.”
The Posse is ready to go all the way, said Readman.
“Hopefully we’ll be bringing a KIJHL title to Princeton.”
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