No sleeping bear

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

CAMROSE -- It's easy to see why NHL scouts are drooling over Joe Colborne.

Minus two of their top players and needing a win in the worst way, the Camrose Kodiaks slapped the 'C' on Colborne last night and watched him put on an impressive show.

The 18-year-old budding star set up two goals - including the winner - as the Kodiaks defeated the Olds Grizzlys 4-3 to take a 3-2 lead in this AJHL quarter-final playoff series.

"He is the best guy in the country at Junior A," said Camrose head coach Boris Rybalka.

"He dominates in the corners.

"They could send one guy on him and he is so big and strong they will throw another guy on him, (but) he will just come out of the corner with the puck."

But Colborne has much more to offer.

And the Olds Grizzlys saw it all last night.

The six-foot-four giant on skates can carry the puck wherever he wants on the ice, see the play develop better than almost anyone and win crucial faceoffs - like he did with just 50 seconds left in the third period.

At 195 pounds, he also brings very deceptive speed.

That total package is why the Calgary native is touted as a possible first-round pick in this spring's NHL draft.

"He has carried that team on his back and he is definitely one of my votes for MVP in the league," said Olds coach Kevin Hasselberg.

Never has his presence been more felt this year than last night in front of 2,175 fans at the Edgeworth Centre.

Already without sniper Mike Connolly (knee injury), the Kodiaks lost regular captain Owen Chatwin (jaw injury) in Game 4 of this series.

Desperately trying to avoid a second straight loss to the Grizzlys, Rybalka shocked Colborne by giving him the 'C' yesterday.

It was the right move, though, because Colborne lead by example when it mattered most.

"(Chatwin) is such a leader that is always hard when he is not in the lineup," said Colborne, who was constantly double shifted at centre last night.

"It was kind of a shock when I got the 'C' for the game but I just tried to play like he would."

Colborne set up the winning goal by lugging the puck around the Grizzlys' zone, toying with defenders as he waited for the play to develop.

Eventually Nigel Dube put the puck in the net at 16:49 of the second period to give the Kodiaks some breathing room in this series.

The sixth - and possible deciding game - is tomorrow in Olds.

"This is our best game yet. So hopefully we will carry that (into the) next game," said Colborne on the top team in the AJHL in the regular season.

The Grizzlys started the goal parade last night by actually scoring on the power play.

Emery White ended a brutal 1-for-28 Olds' streak with the man advantage by beating Allen York along the ice just five minutes into the tilt.

Camrose quickly responded with goals by Shawn Ostrow and David Jacobsen.

Levi Brotnov evened the score with another Olds' power-play tally at 15:48.

But Olds' goaltender Marc Boulanger let his entire team down with just 28.1 seconds left in the opening stanza when Ostrow slipped the puck through the five hole.

That was the third Kodiaks goal on just their sixth shot.

To no surprise, Boulanger didn't touch the ice for the remaining two periods - replaced by Chad Carder.

Hasselberg isn't revealing who will play Game 6 tomorrow.


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