The Trail Commercial Hockey League (TCHL) needed a shootout in Game 3 of its best-of-three semifinal to determine who would play in the 2017 championship series.
Both semifinal match ups between first-seed OK Tire and fourth-seed Arlington, and second-seed Gericks and third-seed Allstar, needed a third and deciding game after the teams split their opening matches to start the playoffs.
The Tire skated to an 8-5 victory over Arlington in Game 1, but the Big A bounced back in Game 2 with a 9-4 rout of the regular-season title holders. Gericks, meanwhile, beat Allstar 3-1, before falling 6-2 in Game 2 to force a third match.
In Sunday’s pivotal game, the Tire jumped out to a 2-1 first-period lead on goals from Joel Graf and Kelly MacKay before the Arlington replied with scoring champion Pat Iannone getting the A on the board.
The Arlington tied it when Joey Baker took a breakaway pass from Jeremy Robinson, walked in and beat Tire netminder Cole Gallo at the 19 minute mark of the middle frame, and Robinson put the Arlington ahead 3-2, finishing a pretty 2-on-1 with Iannone midway through the period.
However, it didn’t take long for the Tire to regroup. Less than a minute later Chris Kissock scored on a power play, taking a drop-pass from MacKay and wiring the screen shot by Arlington goalie Eric Volpatti to tie it. Kissock struck again, shovelling in a rebound on the doorstep at 2:45, and then completed the natural hat-trick 20 seconds later for what proved to be the winning goal and a 5-3 Tire lead.
The Arlington drew within one when Iannone banged a rebound past Gallo with 3:36 remaining in regulation, but that’s as close as the A would get, as Cam Ferguson scored into an empty net for the insurance marker and a 6-4 Tire victory.
In the nightcap, Gericks and Allstar skated to a 1-1 tie in regulation, and when nothing was solved in the five-minute overtime period, it took a best-of-three shootout to declare the winner.
Gericks goalie Mike Kooznetsoff shut down the Allstar’s first two shooters, taking a page out of the Johnny Bower arsenal with a poke-check on Kyle Shannon. Gericks went up 1-0 on its first try, and after Craig Clare was stopped, Eric Hill wired a snapshot top corner on Cody Deadmarsh for the 2-1 victory.
Gericks and OK Tire will meet in a best-of-three championship final series that starts at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday at the Cominco Arena, with Game 2 scheduled for Sunday at 2:15 p.m.