Every season has turning points…lots of them, highs and lows and great moments This past weekend was a whole series of moments that the Princeton Flyers will never forget. They hosted a great tournament. The boys faced some very tough foes, and in front of boisterous home crowds, gave every ounce of effort in four very well played games.
The first game was against the Westside Warriors. An energetic Flyers side came out hard and fast, and behind the Game MVP goal-tending of Corey Thompson held the visitors scoreless for the first twenty minutes. In the second, the Warriors got two goals, but the 2-0 score didn’t show that Princeton was outplaying and out-chancing their opponent. At 9:22 p.m. the home crowd was treated to a good goal from Tristan Vandermeulen. It seemed to fire the boys up, especially Tanner Sulentich, who elevated his performance in every game this weekend. They poured shots at the Westside goalie, but they couldn’t get another past him, and against the grain, Westside scored again. Final score was 3-1, but spirits were high in the Flyers dressing room.
Saturday morning, the home town heroes again took the ice, this time against 100 Mile House. At 8:05 a.m. lightning struck, as Lane French scored off a great feed from Mike White, but the Milers came back quickly and scored 1:30 later. The second period started with 100 Mile House scoring early and clinging to the lead despite constant pressure and with 34 seconds left in the period, an errant clearing attempt landed on Grant Yee’s stick. The Atom age defender, playing in only his third game as a PeeWee, glided into the top of the circle, and picked the top corner of the net as a great place to put his first shot of the game. It was now 2-2 going into the third. Half way through the last period, all the momentum looked lost as the visitors took the lead, but a fantastic effort by the team, especially Game MVP Tristan Vandermeulen led to another goal from French that tied it up. Final score, 3-3.
The play-off round put the Flyers up against a very strong NorVan Canucks team. Injuries, fatigue, and a lack of players on the bench took its toll and despite Game MVP Lane French’s 2 goals, the team got beat up pretty bad in a 12-2 loss. Chris Gullason had a great game, putting out a solid effort, every shift, despite the score. At this point in the weekend, the Flyers were down to 10 skaters, and looking pretty tired. Unfortunately, it also meant they played at 8:30 Sunday morning. Oh, the joys of tournament hockey.
Sunday morning, the boys were ready to go in a re-match with 100 Mile House. At 5:46 Conner Clarke shocked the arena with his first goal of the weekend, an unassisted beauty. The Milers replied 2 minutes later, but then Hayden Zieske re-fired up the crowd with a coast-to-coast rush that ended in his first goal of the weekend. Captain Cache Cook got into the action at 8:07 of the second with a fantastic PP goal, set up by some great passing by Zieske and French. The Princeton Arena was positively vibrating, but two goals by 100 Mile House quickly shut down the party and the two teams were again dead-locked after two periods.
The third period again brought the party back to the Corral. This time it was Vandermeulen who supplied the fireworks, actually shooting from below the red-line, and banking one in off the goalies’ skates. Five minutes later White fed Captain Cook who threw the puck at the net. The Milers’ goalie turned it away, but Game MVP Corey Scott banged home the rebound to put the Flyers up by two. Minutes later 100 Mile House replied, but 0:58 seconds after that Scott again grabbed a rebound and banged home his second of the game. It was all starting to look very good, until penalties gave 100 Mile House 1:40 of two-man advantage!! With over 4 minutes to play, and down two goals, the visitors pulled their goalie for a 6 on 3. Short-handed and playing 6 on 4, Cookie raced down the ice, picked up a loose puck, and put the icing on the cake, with his second of the game, an empty netter. With less than a minute to go, French again found the back of the net and the Flyers Fans, friends and families collectively shook the “Monkey off their back”. Final score 8-4, but believe me, it was never that one-sided.
Eventually, the Merritt Centennials won the tournament and 100 Mile House won Most Sportsmanlike. The Flyers salute Clint and Mike, the dreaded Zebras, for their tireless efforts and Sue, for all her fantastic food. The tournament was a complete success because the parents and organizers all worked so hard to make sure it happened. Kelley, Linda, Sharon, Lori, Beth, what do we say? and thank you all. Special thanks to Parker, for assisting, managing, cheering, and keeping the boys rocking while you heal! (Hurry up and get better).
Finally, Head Coach Denis Thibert and the Flyers would like to Salute coach Jeff Scott. Jeff leaves on a high note and will be missed by us all. From your biggest fan, “Thanks, Jeffy Boy.”