The final home game in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League didn’t go as planned for the Penticton Lakers.
With a small crowd on hand in the South Okanagan Events Centre, the Lakers, last in the Okanagan Division, hosted their division rivals, the second-place Princeton Posse, and lost 5-0. The victory was secured after the opening period in which the Posse opened the scoring at 12:52 on a goal by Kurt Bond. Four minutes later, Kurtis Klinger made it 2-0 and with 54 seconds remaining, Kaleb Boyle added a third.
Lakers defenceman Matthew Billingsley said the loss came down to a fast start for the Posse.
“We weren’t really into it right off the puck drop,” said Billingsley.
The Lakers were outshot in the opening frame 17-6, but those stats switched in favor of the home team for the last two periods, 22-18. The Lakers also only allowed one goal in each of the last two periods.
“I felt that we did good,” said Billingsley. “Bounces didn’t go our way and we couldn’t get it done.”
Lakers goalie Niall McGregor also felt the team played well.
“They battled hard in front of me,” said McGregor, who stopped 30 of 35 shots. “I thought we moved the puck well, communicated well out there. I thought they shot the puck well, had some good chances.”
McGregor, who is 7-18-1 with a 3.55 goals against average and .898 save percentage, said the motivator is self pride and trying to surpass the Chase Heat. He said it would be nice to avoid finishing second-last in the KIJHL.
Billingsley said they really wanted to get a win, especially for coach Robert Dirk.
“It was really heart-breaking to lose it,” he said.
With their final three games in Columbia Valley, Golden and Revelstoke, McGregor said they want to prove they shouldn’t be at the bottom of the standings. Next season the Lakers will relocate to 100 Mile House where they will be known as the Wranglers.