Friday night at Hersheypark Arena, the Rams will play for the Viola Cup, awarded to the CPIHL's Tier 2 champion.
"I guess you could say we're a team that's really come together down the stretch this season," head coach Steve Buckley said. "It was very iffy that we'd even have the team. We probably had a commitment from 10 or 11 guys back in the spring.
"All options were being considered (if there were not enough players). But we got the commitment from some of the guys who play travel hockey for club teams. They agreed to play and we just went from there."
Kennard-Dale won the CPIHL's Tier 2 South Division and carries a 16-2-2 record into Friday's title tilt against North Division-champion Mechanicsburg.
It's the Rams' first championship game appearance since 2006, when Ephrata cruised to the crown by thumping Kennard-Dale, 10-1.
Buckley's team reached the Viola Cup final with a 5-4 victory over Cedar Crest on Monday night as Ryan Frear scorched Colts netminder Adam Wills for four goals. Kennard-Dale had previously eliminated Dallastown, 6-3, in a first-round matchup.
Mechanicsburg (13-4-3) advanced to the championship game by blanking Manheim Township, 2-0, behind a 35-save performance from goalie Nick Schwartz.
Both the Rams and Wildcats have experienced extended stretches of success during
Kennard-Dale had a 16-game unbeaten streak halted with a 6-5 loss to West York in the regular-season finale on Feb. 17. During that period, the Rams went 14-0-2.
Mechanicsburg carries a 10-game unbeaten streak into the Viola Cup final with nine wins and a tie. The Wildcats' last loss came Dec. 23, a 7-1 rout at the hands of Elizabethtown.
Kennard-Dale's strongest suit is clearly its offense, which has scored at least five goals in every game this season.
Defensively, Mechanicsburg allowed a division-low 43 goals during its 18-game regular season. Schwartz has posted four shutouts on his own this year and shared a fifth against York Suburban with Greg Archibald.
Something's got to give in Friday's final.
"Obviously, we're a team that plays a wide-open style and thrives on scoring," Buckley said. "Mechanicsburg is a more defensive-minded team, so we're going to see teams with very different approaches. It should be fun."
It's already been a heck of a ride for the Rams and especially for Buckley, who planned on retiring after the 2008-09 season ended with a first-round playoff loss to Pequea Valley.
"I really wasn't going to coach this year," Buckley said.
When potential successors didn't receive the needed certification, Buckley was asked if he would come back behind the bench once again. He didn't hesitate.
Now, his team sits a victory away from the playoff crown that the 2006 Rams couldn't achieve.
"It would mean everything to us, because that's why guys come out to play for Kennard-Dale," Rams captain Kevin Riebert said. "A championship was our goal from the beginning of the year.
"We weren't looking to build off last season or anything in the past. We were looking to the future, to what this team could achieve. We've taken the steps and (winning) the championship game is what we have to do next."