Playing the role of Grinch: the Princeton Posse.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s top team picked up an extra point with a 5-4 shootout win over the hometown North Okanagan Knights Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
It was the final pre-Christmas game for both teams. Princeton has won four straight.
Tyson Horiachka was the first shooter in penalty shots and the only player to score. It was the third time on the night the player from Sherwood Park, Alta. found the back of the net behind North Okanagan goalie Josh Hager.
Horiachka opened and closed the regulation time scoring in a game that saw four lead changes. He started the scoring just 12 seconds after the national anthem.
The Knights tied the game less than two minutes later on a goal from hometown Armstrong defenceman-turned-Santa’s-Elf Adam Zimmerman at 2:07. His goal made stuffies rain onto the ice from the stands, as the game was the Knights’ annual Christmas Teddy Bear Toss game for charities.
Matthew Johnston gave North OK a 2-1 lead at 11:42 of the period, only to see Kassius Kler tie the game for the Posse 17 seconds later.
Luken Murray gave Princeton a 3-2 lead 5:30 into the middle frame, but Jake Watson tied the contest for the Knights at 14:45.
In the third period, Luke Rishaug’s goal at 10:52 gave the home team a 4-3 advantage. Horiachka forced overtime with an unassisted goal at 15:09.
Princeton goalie Ethan Rau made 23 saves through regulation and overtime, then proceeded to stop Tag Bryson, Kevin-Thomas Walters and Ethan O’Rourke in the shootout.
Hager finished the night with 51 saves. He stoned Ty Olsen and Brayden Bablitz in the penalty shots.
The Posse enter the Christmas break with the KIJHL’s best record atop the Bill Ohlhausen Division at 21-4-1-3, 46 points. They are two points better than the Eddie Mountain Division-leading Columbia Valley Rockies (21-5-0-2).
Princeton has a nine-point lead on the second-place Osoyoos Coyotes in the Ohlhausen Division.
The Knights are in third place in the division at 14-12-1-1, seven points back of Osoyoos and five points up on the fourth-place Summerland Steam.
Princeton returns to KIJHL play when they visit Osoyoos Friday, Dec. 30. Next game for North Okanagan is in 2023, when they kick off a three-game road swing in Summerland Tuesday, Jan. 3.