Welcome to Quick Shift, which provides a preview of each of the 20 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams, with insight from their respective general managers. Next up is the Princeton Posse in the Bill Ohlhausen division. The Posse enter the 2023-24 season as the defending Okanagan-Shuswap Conference champs. It’s the first time they won their conference in their 20-year history. They came within a game of winning the KIJHL Teck Cup championship. They won the President’s Cup as the best KIJHL team in the regular season with a record of 31-7-3-3 in 44 games. Head Coach-GM Mark Readman provides insight into this season’s team and he has seen the bar raised in terms of standard, compete level, and execution.
Did you have a good off-season of recruiting?
We believe so. We graduated five players last season and saw quite a few make the jump to Canadian Junior Hockey League teams prior to our leagues promotion. We’ve recruited players with high-character who all play and approach the game the right way.
Jackson Gush is a local who came to our Logan Lake spring camp two years ago. He played at the Tier 4 house level and played five games as a 15-year-old affiliate. He has come a long way and spent the long weekend at the Kamloops Blazers main camp and made an impression. He’s had a strong showing here so far and we’re excited to continue working with him.
What do you like about the group of players returning who will play a big part on your team?
We have another high character group. The players returning will continue to build on our culture and help the incoming players learn and adapt to how we do things. They are people who hate to lose and love to succeed and are hungry to have another strong season after last season. We have guys who can play in all situations so we will have a lot of versatility and plenty of leaders to pave the way for the new players.
Talk about the people that make up your leadership group.
We’re in an extremely fortunate spot where we have half of our leadership group returning. Curtis Gould, our local 20-year-old who wore an A the last two years, will captain our team. He’s excited to lead the charge. Lucas Sadownyk, who wore an A is back in that role. There are still plenty of leaders who might not have a letter. One who was like that last season, but will wear an A is Tyson Horiachka, who I’ve referred to as the Patrice Bergeron of the KIJHL. We want to let our group settle in and give some time to see who that fourth letter wearer will be.
What were some key areas of success achieved last season that the organization wants to build on?
Our overall compete level was raised daily with the group we had and we are hoping that continues to improve. We hope to build on our discipline in sticking with the program daily, and finding ways to build from last season’s success. Regardless of the seasonal outcome, there are always positives and negatives that you learn from. We want to take things that worked last year and implement them and hope to improve its efficiency, and learn and adapt from things we struggled with. We finished in the top-five in the even strength categories, but finding ways to improve our special teams will be crucial for us during the season.
Who are second-year players that have stood out during camp?
Jonathan Ward, who was selected for the BCHC Prospects Game last season, has had a productive summer and he’s looked fast and taken a significant step forward. All the guys have looked steady.