With a fourth victory over the Ridge Meadows Flames on Sunday, the Aldergrove Kodiaks swept round one of the Pacific Junior Hockey League playoffs, and will move onto Harold Brittain Conference finals.
It was a 5-3 victory on Sunday in Maple Ridge that secured their fourth consecutive win over the Flames, who in the regular season finished in third place, just one spot behind Aldergrove.
Initially, the bears were threatened by the loss of their powerful forward, Justin Ralph, due to an injury that occurred during the team’s final regular season game.
Ralph was struck from behind by a Grandview Steelers player, subsequently ejected from the Feb. 9 game.
“He could be out for a while,” said Kodiak’s head coach Chris Price, who since taking over as head coach has seen the team amass 7 more wins in the regular season.
Oddly enough, around the same time, the bears welcomed back a top-scorer Lucas Thompson, who has been out of play due to an injury since December.
Thompson scored two goals on the first game back during playoffs against the Flames on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Aldergrove. The team finished with a 5-2 victory.
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The best-of-seven series continued the next night, Wednesday (Feb. 12) as the bears wrangled their way back from 0-2 in the final period, for a thrilling 4-3 victory over Maple Ridge.
Price said the team’s hard-working nature allowed them to come back in games two, three, and four of the playoffs.
“That’s how our team is. We’re resilient,” he said.
What made “all the difference,” was Aldergrove goalie, Dylan Black, who kept a 15-5 shooting record for the Flames at bay in the third period.
The Kodiaks headed into game three on Feb. 14 stealing a third win with the same score as their last game (4-3).
Since the Kodiaks’ deciding Sunday win, the team has had a bit of a breather while they await the conclusion of the Langley Trapper/Mission City Outlaws series – which is currently tied at one game each.
“I think we have a really good chance at winning,” their coach said. “Our players are seeing results” from their training program.
It is the eleventh time the Kodiaks have made playoffs in their 12 year history as a team.