The Prince Rupert Football Club (PRFC) share northwest proximity with Hazelton, but there’s not much neighbourly love between the two cities these days.
A 2-1 win by PRFC in the 14th annual Battle of the Skeena in Kitwanga vaulted PRFC over Hazelton in the round robin – vengeance for the loss they took in the finals of their recent Greenville tournament in which Hazelton bested them 3-2 earlier in July and went on to win the tourney and take home $2,500 in prize money.
But it was the extra-curricular stuff that was the focus in Kitwanga.
“We had a controversial penalty shot that ended up winning the game,” said PRFC forward Matt Anderson.
“Marcel Barrelon scored – their goalie, Levi Woods, was charging for the ball and [Marcel] was bringing it in on a breakaway. [Woods] took our guy out and he got injured on the play. He also got the call against him so we got a penalty shot. [Woods] ended up getting really upset about it and he got a red card.”
That goal eventually stood as the game-winner.
“It was pretty heated after that,” said Anderson.
Nevertheless, the PRFC side advanced after that win and another over Kispiox in the 10-team tournament. Only 10 players suited up against the Kispiox Eagles, but they squeaked out a 3-2 victory.
Then came a very spritely and very talented Gitsegukla Athletic Club.
“They were a really young team – probably all around 20 years old and they gave us a run for our money,” said the forward.
Two goals in the first half gave PRFC a 2-1 lead and two more tallies by Anderson himself, one on a penalty shot in the second, earned Rupert four goals in the match.
But Gitsegukla wouldn’t go quietly.
“They pressed hard for the rest of the game and they ended up getting two goals [making the final 4-3]. I think if the game went on they would have tied it up.”
Anderson’s shot hit its mark in the left corner of the twine, the same area he placed his first marker from the 18-yard line.
Thanks to their win over Gitsegukla, PRFC advanced straight to the final, their third straight finals appearance this year in area tournaments, and forced the Athletic Club to play twice more in a sweltering heat wave that engulfed Kitwanga and most of B.C.
“We played them again in the final but they had nothing left in the gas tank. They lost 6-0 in the end,” said Anderson.
And as per the norm this season, PRFC cleaned up the individual awards. Doug Lindley won best goalkeeper, the second tournament in a row a PRFC netminder claimed the honour after Rampi Gill won it in Greenville. Ryan Da Silva took home best defenceman and Anderson’s multiple goals earned him best scorer.
Mike De Lima, Jon Melia, Marc Hrehirchek and Mark Monteleone had all-star nominations. The team has now won $9,500 in three tournaments and have two first-place and one second-place finish.
Their next tournament is in Terrace in the men’s open division for Terrace’s Riverboat Days from Aug. 1 to 4.