For the first time since they won it all in 2007, the Carnduff Red Devils are heading to the Big Six Championship.
Carnduff finally knocked off the two-time defending league champion Wawota Flyers in the fifth and deciding game of the semi-final, with the Red Devils earning a 4-1 victory on home ice thanks in large part to a hat trick from veteran forward Trevor Geiger.
Most of the roster for the Flyers have played in these big games before with Wawota appearing in the last three championship rounds. And that experience was showing in the first period where the Flyers got the first goal of the night.
Warren Hunter would get his first goal of the postseason with a quick wrist shot that beat Carnduff's Cody Dumaine blocker-side to make it 1-0 Wawota after 20 minutes of play.
Early in the 2nd period however, Carnduff would respond. The Red Devils drove hard to the net and after Wawota's Guillaume Blouin made the initial save, Carnduff's Landon Senchuk batted home the rebound for his first of the postseason to tie the game at 1-1.
Carnduff earned their first lead of the game on a powerplay halfway through the game. Right off the ensuing faceoff, the Red Devils worked the puck to the point where Blake McMillen found Geiger alone in the slot. Geiger took a quick shot that beat Blouin blocker-side to put Carnduff up 2-1, which would be the score after two periods of play.
The two teams went back-and-forth to start the 3rd period, each team earning some quality opportunities to get the all-important next goal. Eventually, it would be Geiger striking again.
Shawn Gallant fought off a check behind the net and centered the puck for Geiger in the faceoff dot. Geiger again snapped a shot on Blouin who got a piece of the shot, but not enough as it trickled across the goal line to give Carnduff a 3-1 lead.
Minutes later, Geiger would complete the natural hat trick off a turnover.
Mark Moriarty took the puck away at the blueline as Wawota tried exiting the zone. Geiger was left all alone in front of the net so Moriarty found a way to get it to him. Geiger had time to corral the puck off his skate, turn around, and go forehand-backhand to the top shelf to beat Blouin. Geiger's 6th, 7th and 8th goals of the playoffs gave Carnduff a comfortable 4-1 lead with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
Wawota was unable to claw their way back into the game in the final minutes, and Carnduff skated away with a 4-1 victory in Game 5 to advance to the Big Six championship final against the Redvers Rockets.
Game 1 will be played in Redvers, a decision made by the Big Six executive on Tuesday morning to try and make up for lost dates due to weather. Carnduff, who finished higher in the regular season standings, will still technically hold home-ice advantage in the series.