Parents were unable to stay in their seats for the final game of the weekend-long Atom development tournament that saw Princeton defeat North Vancouver in the final 7-6.
Langley, North Vancouver, Abbotsford, South Okanagan and Princeton faced-off in a weekend that promised to be a challenge for all players.
Princeton and South Okanagan played in the semi-final.
This game would decide who battled against the North Vancouver team who had dominated all weekend long. The winner would claim the tournament cup.
Princeton started off the semi-final strong and never looked back. The game ended 4-2 for Princeton.
It was a thrilling end for the local kids, but one that meant a final against the North Vancouver tier-two team.
Forty-five minutes later, the Princeton crew was in the dressing room. Last minute words from coach Ryan O’Neil fell on alert faces.
The small but mighty team was determined. They looked ready to challenge a team that was hand picked.
“We were definitely the underdog in the final,” said O’Neil. “But from the opening face-off it didn’t appear that way.”
The young guns came out blazing. Princeton popped up on the scoreboard first.
Throughout all three periods the score bounded back and forth.
Every time Princeton scored, it seemed North Van dug a little deeper and scored one back.
Goalie Jett Larsen and Jayden Simon traded off and stayed fresh.
North Vancouver’s goalie stopped shot after shot, but Princeton did not give up.
From offense to defense the Atom kids dug deeper than they had all season long.
The O’Neil brothers and the Brodie brothers did exactly what was expected of them and more.
Kirk Scallon, Keaton Fraser, Trenton Vegara and Matt Maynard stepped up their play a big notch.
“The game was a huge win for the boys,” said their proud coach.
“Not only was the North Vancouver team a big city team that we beat, but they are a tier up from our kids. They are a tier-two team playing in a tier-one league and our kids are tier three.”
Spirit and determination turned out to the winning combination for one small team with the hearts of warriors and smiles of kids who had just accomplished the near impossible.
“Last year our team won five games and lost 21 games,” O’Neil declared. “It was a tough learning year, but look at them now. This year were are 18 wins, eight losses and two ties.
Now the team is focussing on preparing for the league playoffs in Merritt from March 9 to 11.
This was the first time the Minor Posse team had played Abbotsford and Langley this year.
They played against North Vancouver in a Merritt tournament and played South Okanagan several times as part of their regular league play.
Before the tournament, Princeton and South Okanagan had been even for game results in the season with two wins, two losses and one tie.