The Princeton Posse is battling towards the first place position in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) following back-to-back shut-out wins on the weekend.
The Posse sat third of 19 teams with 27 points – a 13-3-0-1 record – behind the Revelstoke Grizzlies and Grand Forks Border Bruins with 29 and 28 points respectively, as of Sunday, Nov. 13 .
Friday, Nov. 11, the home team thumped Osoyoos 3-0, with goals by Ty Olsen, Isaac Thomas and Anmola Garcha. Ethan Rau earned the shut-out making 45 saves.
The Coyotes are second place in the Bill Ohlhausen Division and trail the Posse by nine points.
The following night, the Posse travelled to 100 Mile House and downed the Wranglers 4-0. Tyson Horiacke was good for two goals, while Ty Olsen and Kassius Kler contributed singles. Nate Glenn celebrated his first shut-out of the season with 30 stops.
This coming week marks the midway point of the league’s regular season.
“It’s obviously been a great start,” said Posse general manager Mark McNaughton. “My mindset has always been to take care of the defensive side of the game and we have the best goals against (record) in the league by a pretty sizable margin.
“Right now we’ve allowed 9 fewer goals (than any other team). That’s a real positive for this group.”
Rau, who has contributed in the net to 7 wins and one loss so far this season, was named the KIJHL’s number one goalie for October.
“He’s certainly been a big piece for our team with really consistent, quality goal-tending. He’s helped us beat some teams, and it’s an individual award but it’s a testament to the team’s defense as well.”
McNaughton said Rau is “as cool as a cucumber and the game doesn’t seem to get too big around him…He fits in well with our group of level-headed characters this year.”
McNaughton also gave full marks to head coach Mark Readman and assistant coach Liam Noble for doing “a phenomenal job. I can’t say enough positive things about them.”
Noble was recently chosen as assistant coach for the British Columbia Hockey Conference’s (BCHC) first prospects game, which will take place Tuesday, Nov. 22, in Chilliwack.
A team comprised of some of the best young players from the KIJHL will play a squad from the Pacific Junior Hockey League before a crowd of fans, Junior A scouts, coaches and general managers.
“These are guys who are capable of finding their way to Junior A in the future,” said McNaughton.
Jonathan Ward, 17, is tenth on the Posse in points with six in 15 games.
The Kamloops product collected his first junior hockey point on Oct. 7. Ward said he feels better now about his play as at the start it was hard, and he was adjusting to the league.
“I came from AA last year and it was a really big adjustment. It took a few games but we’re getting there,” he said. “The speed, it’s just a lot faster. It’s more hard hitting, you are playing with older guys.
“Speed was the biggest one, there is so much less time.”
Jalen McRae, 17, has three points in 12 games. The Merritt native, who is already an affiliate for that city’s Junior A franchise, collected his first junior point on Oct. 4.
McRae said he’s put together a good couple of games and is looking to keep getting better. McRae likes to play a gritty style, forechecking hard, while locking things down in the defensive zone.
McRae said the step up from minor hockey has been a big step physically and with the pace of the game, which forced him to make decisions quicker.
“I like that I get the puck deep and to my teammates and help get things going in the offensive zone,” he said.
“It’s a huge opportunity and I’m really looking forward to getting to play in front of a lot of people. “Hopefully my parents can make it down. It’s really just an honour.”
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