Wolverines claw past Kodiaks
Camrose Kodiaks forward is hit along the boards by Whitecourt Wolverines Ryan Grant (10) and Phil Erickson (7) during their AJHL game in Camrose on Saturday night. The Wolverines won 4-3. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian/Postmedia Network
Wolverines 4, Kodiaks 3
The Camrose Kodiaks let their foot off the gas twice on Saturday night and it came back to bite them both times.
The Whitecourt Wolverines handed the Kodiaks their first regulation loss of the Alberta Junior Hockey League season, handing them a 4-3 defeat in front of 1,003 fans at Encana Arena in Camrose.
"There was a lot of positives, but a lot to learn. Our focus this year is positive, positive, positive," said Kodiaks general manager and head coach Boris Rybalka. "Were there mistakes? Oh, most definitely. It's always a big shift after a goal. We were on the bench saying 'stay focused' and then bang, it's in the net."
Phil Erickson scored twice for the Wolverines while Marc-Antoine Benoit and Noah Tooke also tallied and Ty Morin made 30 saves for the win.
Jacob Kendall responded with two goals for the Kodiaks while McKenzie Welke also scored. Landon Pavlisin made 25 saves in the loss.
The Kodiaks came out of the first intermission not quite ready to play and the Wolverines made them pay as Tooke scored 33 seconds into the frame, followed by Erickson at 1:14.
Erickson made it 3-0 at 15:11 but the Kodiaks responded with Kendall's first goal at 18:34 from Cale Chalifoux to give them momentum heading into the intermission.
The Kodiaks kept fighting back and Welke finally broke through at 11:17 of the third period, chipping a shot over Morin from in close. Kendall tied the game at 12:41 with a strong power move, spinning off his defender in the corner, and driving the net hard while tucking the puck five-hole.
But then they let off for just a second and Benoit made them pay. The Wolverines caught the Kodiaks sleeping off the face off, and Benoit ripped a shot past Pavlisin, breaking the tie after 15 seconds.
The Kodiaks coaches look at the mistakes made as correctable but are more encouraged by the fight back exhibited the club.
"We didn't quit," said Rybalka. "Guys started listening, they started trusting and … started putting pucks at the net because the goalie struggled with rebounds. That was the game plan and guys started believing in that."
The Kodiaks (2-1-1) are in Calgary to play the Mustangs (1-4-0) at Father David Bauer Arena on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The Kodiaks then host the AJHL Showcase next weekend as they host the Wolverines (3-1-1) again on Friday at 7 p.m. and then the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Showcase pits all 16 AJHL teams against each other in 16 games over a three-day span at the Max McLean Area and Encana Arena in Camrose from Thursday through Saturday.