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On Sunday night, the Princeton Posse earned a hard-fought 2-1 road victory over the Revelstoke Grizzlies to punch their ticket to the KIJHL final.
Just two-and-a-half hours before the start of that conference-clinching game six win, the Posse organization received some devastating news that put hockey on the back burner.
Assistant coach Morton Johnston had died in a motor vehicle accident earlier that day. He was just 25 years old.
According to a KIJHL statement, the team “made the decision to play in Morton’s honour with the support and encouragement of his family.”
Johnston wasn’t just a coach who was passing through town on his way up the ranks either. He was a Princeton product who grew up in the small town and played 168 games for the Posse between 2014-18.
“He was a tenacious and energetic player and beloved teammate,” noted the KIJHL statement.
This was his first year back with the organization as an assistant coach.
Johnston also played senior men’s hockey with the Penticton Silver Bullets this year and they were scheduled to participate in the Coy Cup this coming weekend.
The club released a statement Monday saying they are “absolutely devastated” and will not be attending the Coy Cup out of respect for Johnston and his family.
“As soon as possible, we will be holding a charity game for anyone that wants to play, and will be donating all funds to help cover the expenses his family has amid this difficult time,” the team said in an Instagram post. “We love you, Mort.”
While the Silver Bullets are calling it a season, Johnston’s Posse will trudge on and go up against the Kimberley Dynamiters in the KIJHL finals.