With a first-place finish in their division a mathematical impossibility, Princeton Posse switched gears this week and started battling for a second place finish.
With just three games left in the regular season, the Posse can’t afford any more losses if they hope to hit the second-best spot in their division.
After dropping two games in the past week, the Feb. 14 match against Kelowna Chiefs was not only a ‘must-win’ it was also a ‘better-win-or-else’ kind of game.
Kelowna scored first on the power play (18:18 – Dane Rupert from Landon Andrusiak and Braeden Hikichi) and although it took most of the period, Princeton responded at 3:28 (Blake Roney from Tim Martens and Justin Moltzahn) to tie the game at 1-all.
With just 23 seconds left in the period a collision near centre ice saw Princeton’s Justin Moltzahn lose his helmet.
“I didn’t see the hit,” says Posse Internet play-by-play announcer George Elliott.
“All I saw was Moltzy’s helmet spinning on the ice and Justin waving his arms in the air. He clearly was not happy with whatever happened.”
Referee Quinn Bjordal penalized Kelowna’s T. J. Dumonceaux two minutes for checking to the head and a 10-minute misconduct, which made the situation clear to everyone at the arena.
The second period saw Princeton take the lead at 15:58 with a power play goal scored by Blake Roney. Devon Grossler and Alex Denchuk earned assists.
The Chiefs battled back and tied the game mid-way through the period with a goal scored by Scott Renner at 10:09. Assists went to Shayne Welker and Josh McEwan.
The third period saw the Posse special teams control the scoreboard.
At 16:44 Kurtis Bond shoveled a pass to Eric Kubis who was on the right side of the Chief net.
He wound up and one-timed the frozen chunk of rubber with such force the friction of flying past Kelowna goalie Connor Wilkinson thawed it out.
Jaden Janzen earned an assist on the goal, which was witnessed in Princeton Arena by Kubis’ family members including parents and grandparents who came to town for the week from Philadelphia.
Kelowna pulled their goalie for an extra man in the final seconds of the game and almost got scored on as Wilkinson was leaving the ice.
Princeton’s Keenan Fordy eventually did score on the power play with four seconds left and with Wilkinson back in goal. Assists went to Devon Grossler and Blake Roney.
Final score: Princeton 4, Kelowna 2. Shots on goal: Princeton 29, Kelowna 18. Penalties in minutes: Kelowna 11 for 41-minutes, Princeton 9 for 37-minutes.