The Penticton Lakers did in Game 7 what they had yet to do in six previous games of their first round match against the Princeton Posse. Score the first goal.
Yet it didn’t matter as the Posse prevailed 5-2 in the best-of-seven Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoff series. Sean Alldridge opened the scoring for the Lakers, but three minutes later, Jaden Janzen replied for the Posse. Then in the second period, Devon Grossler gave the Posse a 2-1 lead. Laker Carter Jensen even the score with less than four minutes remaining.
Lakers coach Robert Dirk said his team was 20 minutes from winning.
“We were right there,” said Dirk. “We had a lot of positives going into the third.”
Then the Posse erupted for three goals in a three-minute span thanks to Eric Schmidt, Blake Roney and Curtis Bellamy. Dirk hadn’t looked at the video to know what went wrong, but he also said it didn’t matter.
“We didn’t get the job done,” said Dirk. “They are a good hockey club. It’s one series I can say I have been a part of that home ice was an advantage to each team.”
Lakers captain JR Krolik felt they played pretty good, but added they had yet to play to their potential over 60 minutes. Krolik said it was hard to play in the Princeton and District Arena and adjust their system. Krolik said whenever they played at home they knew the games were important.
With the Lakers about to be eliminated, Lakers forward Paulsen Lautard hit a player from behind. That triggered the Posse’s Keenan Fordy to instigate a brawl on the ice. Lautard, Michael Pond, Derek Grimm, Carter Jensen and Jayce Polman-Tuin were all involved. Dirk said that the Posse could have shown more discipline in that situation.
“There was nothing gained from doing that,” said Dirk. “You are dealing with players and teenagers. Our guys were frustrated. It was a great series. Come out losing was disheartening. The hit was not necessary. Both teams are at fault.”
KIJHL president Bill Ohlhausen, who didn’t like that happening, said all the players involved will be suspended two games including the coaches. Fordy is the only player who will receive a one-game suspension.
“The control is lost in the game,” said Ohlhausen, who felt the series was good.