Five Posse players graduate this year. The 20-year-olds have played their last game of junior hockey. Pictured with Posse club president Randy McLean are Jaysen MacLean, Aubrey MacLeod, Terrance Josephson, Justin Fodchuk and Mathew Cooper. Photo Bob Marsh

Players react emotionally to sudden end of dream hockey season

‘Disappointment is usually something we save for when we lose. This is just a feeling of sadness.’

The Princeton Posse’s playoff dreams came to a sudden end last week with a whimper, not a bang.

Rulings from the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) and BC Hockey cancelled all games for the balance of the post-season, as a response to the growing threat of Coronavirus.

“It’s tough to leave with unfinished business,” said coach Mark McNaughton.

The turn of events was a dissatisfying conclusion to the Posse’s most successful season in eight years.

The home team finished second in the Okanagan division in regular season, swept the first playoff round four games straight against Summerland, and was tied against the Kelowna Chiefs in a battle for the divisional title.

Related: Posse sweeps playoff series with four straight wins

“How far could we have gone?” asked club president Randy McLean. “I honestly agreed with those who thought we would advance to the next level. As for the future series, we have had even-up battles with the best teams in the league.”

McLean and McNaughton concurred their biggest regrets are for the players who made exceptional efforts throughout the year.

Thursday night, just hours before Princeton was to face off against Kelowna in game three on home ice, the KIJHL announced game postponements.

The following day BC Hockey dropped the curtain on the post-season.

McNaughton said most of his players had heard ‘through the grapevine’ that the year was finished before he could get them in a room for a team meeting.

“It was definitely emotional. At first everybody just kind of sat there soaking it in, and after that everybody was emotional,” said McNaughton.

“It’s so hard after such a great season.”

McNaughton said the feeling goes beyond disappointment.

“Disappointment is usually something we save for when we lose,” he said. “This, this is just a feeling of sadness.”

McLean echoed those thoughts.

“I am so sorry for all our Posse family and coaching staff, but most especially for the players who wholeheartedly bought into the coaching program and never quit working to improve.”

Related: Posse within striking distance of division championship

Despite the difficult outcome, McLean could not help but be encouraged.

“I would describe this season as a definite breakthrough season. On so many different levels Posse hockey has improved dramatically. From the perspective of the professionalism of the coaching staff and players, the complete buy-in from the Posse board of directors and volunteers and, of course, the overwhelming support of our growing fan base,” he said.

“A sad, sad day for our program however I cannot stop feeling the overwhelming optimism of the years to come.”

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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