The Cardiac Kodiaks have lived to play another day.
After coming back from a 3-2 series deficit to beat the Brooks Bandits in Round 2 of the AJHL playoffs, Camrose went one better in the league semifinals, battling out of a 3-1 hole and winning twice on the road, including Game 7, to knock off the Okotoks Oilers and advance to the Enerflex Cup Final.
The Kodiaks are in the league championship series for the eighth time in their 14-year history, and the first time since winning the last of their five AJHL championships in 2008.
Against the Oilers, who ended the regular season as the No. 3-ranked team in Canada and cruised past the Calgary Mustangs in four straight in their second-round series, the Kodiaks dropped Games 3 and 4 on home ice and were on the brink of elimination before John Lidgett kick-started the comeback with the overtime winner in Okotoks in Game 5.
A 3-1 home-ice victory at the Edgeworth Centre in Game 6 forced a deciding game in Okotoks, where second-period goals from Lidgett and Jonathan Lashyn and stand-on-his-head goaltending from Dalyn Flette were enough to allow the Kodiaks to survive a third-period Okotoks push and advance.
Through three playoff rounds, the Kodiaks have played 18 of a possible 19 games and are 5-0 when facing elimination. But they’ll face their toughest test in the Enerflex Cup Final when they take on the Spruce Grove Saints, who spent much of the season as the No. 1-ranked team in Canada and swept both Lloydminster and Fort McMurray to earn a chance at their second consecutive AJHL championship.
Kodiaks forward Tyler Jewitt managed just two points in seven games against the Oilers, including the overtime winner in Game 2, but it was enough to leave him atop the AJHL playoff scoring race with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) heading into the final.
Lidgett scored five goals against Okotoks, including four in the last three games, to leave him tied with Jewitt for most playoff goals, while Flette sits second with a 1.93 goals against average and .936 save percentage in 18 games; the Camrose netminder has played every second of the Kodiaks’ playoff run.
CAMROSE KODIAKS VS. SPRUCE GROVE SAINTS
Game 1 – Friday, April 1 – Camrose @ Spruce Grove
Game 2 – Saturday, April 2 – Camrose @ Spruce Grove
Game 3 – Monday, April 4 – Spruce Grove @ Camrose
Game 4 – Tuesday, April 5 – Spruce Grove @ Camrose
*Game 5 – Friday, April 8 – Camrose @ Spruce Grove
*Game 6 – Sunday, April 10 – Spruce Grove @ Camrose
*Game 7 – Tuesday, April 12 – Camrose @ Spruce Grove
* if necessary