It will go into the record books as a seven-game victory, but it took the Camrose Kodiaks eight games and part of a ninth to finally get past the Brooks Bandits and book their place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League's final four.
Tyler Jewitt's eighth goal of the playoffs at 11:10 of the third period proved to be the game-winner as the 2011 RBC Cup hosts advanced with a 2-1 Game 7 win on the road in Brooks on Tuesday night, completing a comeback from a 3-2 series deficit.
Jewitt's winner came just 44 seconds after Luke Challier tied the game for Camrose and sends the Kodiaks to the South Division final for the second time in as many years and eighth time in nine years, dating back to 2003.
The Kodiaks' hopes of qualifying for the National Junior A Championship looked to be in serious trouble after losing back-to-back overtime games in Games 4 and 5, including the longest Junior A game in the country this year – a 3-2 loss in Game 4 that ended 6:22 into the fourth extra period and left the Kodiaks facing elimination.
But Camrose responded with an emphatic 5-1 win on home ice two nights later to force a seventh and deciding game, and erased a 1-0 third-period deficit in Game 7, backed by two points from Jewitt and 26 saves from goaltender Dalyn Flette.
Jewitt's 14 points (eight goals, six assists) leave him second in AJHL playoff scoring, while Flette, who has played all 716 minutes of the Kodiaks' playoff run this far, sits third with a 1.84 goals against average and .932 save percentage through two rounds.
The road to the Enerflex Cup doesn't get any easier for the Kodiaks – up next are the Okotoks Oilers, who finished the season as the No. 3-ranked team in Canada and made short work of the Calgary Mustangs in a second round four-game sweep.
CAMROSE KODIAKS VS. OKOTOKS OILERS
Game 1 – Saturday, March 19 – Camrose @ Okotoks
Game 2 – Sunday, March 20 – Camrose @ Okotoks
Game 3 – Tuesday, March 22 – Okotoks @ Camrose
Game 4 – Wednesday, March 23 – Okotoks @ Camrose
*Game 5 – Friday, March 25 – Camrose @ Okotoks
*Game 6 – Sunday, March 27 – Okotoks @ Camrose
*Game 7 – Tuesday, March 29 – Camrose @ Okotoks
* if necessary