The Camrose Kodiaks required the equivalent of almost nine full games to win the Alberta Junior Hockey League championship, then began thinking about a nine-hour bus ride through the Rocky Mountains 35 hours later.
Goalie Mike Brodeur set a league record with his fourth playoff shutout April 15 in Camrose's 1-0 win over the St. Albert Saints in the deciding game of the best-of-seven Rogers AT & T Wireless Cup final.
Camrose and St. Albert established a league record for the longest game when they played five overtimes, with an elapsed time of 139 minutes and 40 seconds, April 11-12 in Camrose. They played 118 minutes and 57 seconds of overtime in the series, for a total playing time of 538 minutes and 57 seconds.
“It’s one of the best series I’ve been involved in,” said Camrose general manager/coach Boris Rybalka, who was with the Kodiaks when they won the 2001 Royal Bank Cup national junior A championship in Flin Flon, Man.
“The credit goes to the young men who played in it. Everything was left on the ice.
“It was fast paced, hard hitting and with great goaltending. It’s a huge feather in the cap for the AJHL and Canadian junior A hockey.”
Camrose will start the best-of-seven Doyle Cup, for the Alberta-B. C. junior A championship, April 18 in Vernon, B. C., against the British Columbia Hockey League champion Vernon Vipers.
“Mike was phenomenal,” said Rybalka, before adding his goalie “struggled in the first few games of the final.
“He was stellar. He loves pressure, and has a great future. He is a huge part of our success.”
Brodeur, 20, led league playoff goalies with a 2.09 goals against average, .927 saves percentage and 16-5 won-lost record in 1,378 minutes. He has a 2.45 goals against average, 44-21-2 won-lost-tied record and six shutouts in 3,948 minutes overall.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Brodeur was second in the league with a 2.64 goals against average and .921 saves percentage in 2,570 minutes during the regular schedule. He tied for second in the league with a 28-16-2 won-lost-tied record.
“We have a very solid defensive corps,” said Rybalka. “We’re strong in our own end and move the puck up well.
“The players all bought in. They realize that team defence wins.”
Camrose emphasizes balance offensively and defensively.
“We’re almost a carbon copy of our national championship team,” said Rybalka.
“It was good enough two years ago. Why wouldn’t it be good enough this season?”
The Kodiaks were second in the South Division, and third overall, with a 40-19-5 regular-season record. They are 56-24-5 in 85 games overall, with 343 goals scored and 240 goals allowed.
“We have a balanced attack,” said Rybalka. “It doesn’t matter which line we put out there.”
Veteran right winger Darrell Stoddard, 21, leads Camrose with 40 goals and 85 points in 82 games overall. Justin Perry, 20, is next among Kodiaks with 83 points, including 57 assists, in 78 games overall.
Scott Stewart, Matt McKnight, Jordan Chomack and Ryan Muspratt are third through sixth, respectively, in Camrose scoring.
Stewart, 21, has 33 goals and 73 points in 81 games overall. McKnight, 18, has 30 goals and 71 points in 77 games.
Veteran left winger Chomack, 20, has 35 goals and 70 points in 81 games. Muspratt, 19, has 33 goals and 70 points in 77 games.
McKnight and Stoddard tied for third among league playoff scorers with 24 points each. Muspratt tied for seventh among league playoff scorers with 23 points in 18 games.
“Sometimes it’s better not to have a break,” said Rybalka, as he completed plans for the trip to Vernon.
The Doyle Cup champion will advance to the Royal Bank Cup scheduled May 3-11 in Charlottetown, P. E. I.
Please check the CJAHL web site at www.cjahl.com for all your Canadian junior A information