Written by Cami Kepke/WHL.ca

Saginaw, Mich.- Zoky and Devon Lakovic were in the middle of moving houses in the Okanagan while they were watching their son, Lynden, and the Moose Jaw Warriors fight for their playoff lives in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Championship.

With the chaos of packing, they hadn’t been able to get out to a Warriors playoff game- yet.

Lynden’s overtime goal that night changed everything.

“We were like ‘We have to go to Game 7. That, we’re not going to miss,” Zoky said. “We just got in the car at two o’clock in the morning on game day and drove out to Saskatoon.”

As fate would have it, the 17-year-old forward also scored the Game 7 overtime goal that sent Moose Jaw to the WHL Championship Series for the first time since 2006.

His dad says he has an almost cosmic ability to find the net in those critical situations.

But the family’s travels were far from over.

“We watched that game, flipped around at 6:00 a.m. the next morning, drove back, and then two days later, we were off to Portland,” Zoky laughed. “We drove about 7,000 kilometers in a 10-day span.”

The Warriors swept the Portland Winterhawks to claim the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time and book a berth at the Memorial Cup.

Thankfully, the Lakovic family was able to catch a flight to watch Lynden and the Warriors compete at the 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Dow in Saginaw, Mich.

They’re part of a small, but mighty contingent of family, friends and fans who have made their presence known at every game, cheering their group on through adversity and celebrating even harder as the Warriors register new franchise firsts.

Lakovic snagged an assist in Moose Jaw’s first-ever win at the tournament on Tuesday night, downing the QMJHL Champion Drummondville Voltigeurs to advance to Friday’s semifinal match.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Zoky added. “You never know when something’s going to happen or how things are going to play out in the future. So you have to play to it. This is the big stage.”

The experience is also inspiring for Lynden’s younger brother, Von, who was recently drafted by their hometown Kelowna Rockets in the 2024 WHL Prospects Draft.

“It’s giving me lots of motivation,” Von said. “It’s pretty cool, just watching, like, Mateychuk and Yager, what they can do on the ice. I can try to put that in my game and just seeing what the crowds like is awesome.”

His big brother- who stands at a whopping 6-foot-4- tallied five goals, including a league-leading four game-winners, and three assists in 20 playoff games en route to Moose Jaw’s first WHL title.

But when Devon looks out on the ice, she still sees the little boy who grew up playing mini sticks and never wanted to get off the outdoor rink his dad built in the backyard.

“He’s still a kid,” Devon said. “He’s really grown up and matured. He’s always been a good person, but he’s becoming an even better person and it’s due to his leadership group and his coaches and all the staff. So kudos to them.”

Lakovic and his teammates will face the loser of Wednesday’s tilt between the OHL Champion London Knights and host Saginaw Spirit on Friday, May 31 at 5:30 p.m. MST.

The game will be available on TSN 1/5, RDS, NHL Network (USA only) and CHL TV.