After over 130 regular-season games and a thrilling semifinal round of the playoffs, it all comes down to one match as the Trail Commercial Hockey League final is set to go Thursday at the Cominco Arena with the upstart Arlington facing off against Re/Max for the championship.
The fourth-seeded Big A, whose playoff berth wasn’t guaranteed until the final game of the season, swept the regular season champion OK Tire in two games, while second-seed Re/Max needed three to upend the Allstar and eliminate them from contention with a 3-0 victory on Sunday.
After a 5-4 upset of OK Tire in Game 1, the Arlington scored twice in the final five minutes of the third period to outlast the Tire 4-3 in Game 2 on Thursday to win the first to four-point playoff.
Pat Iannone netted a hat trick and scored the winning goal to give the ‘A’ a 4-2 lead with 3:30 to play. The TCHL’s scoring champion converted a set up from Jeremy Robinson to send the A into the championship match.
Iannone, who scored 60 goals and 112 points this season, opened the scoring five minutes into the first to set the stage, as Darryl Zol made it 2-0 off a Matt Proulx feed at 11:45 of the second period.
The Tire fought back when Chris Kissock took a pass from Joel Graf and beat Arlington goalie Eric Volpatti to bring the Tire within one. OK Tire’s Evan MacKay tied it at two with 1:50 left in the middle frame on a pretty play from Kelly MacKay and Troy Palmer.
Iannonne and Robinson teamed up again to put the Arlington up 3-2 at the 4:25 mark of the third, but after Iannone’s third goal of the game, Tire defenceman Darrin Kissock pulled the Tire within one scoring a power play goal at 3:08 to make it interesting. However, the former Beaver Valley Nitehawk goalie shut the door the rest of the way to give the A a berth into the final.
In the other semifinal match up, after a 3-3 tie in the first game of the playoff, Re/Max beat Allstar 5-3 in Game 2, then shut them out in the deciding game on Sunday, 3-0, to earn a spot in Thursday’s final.
Chris McIsaac earned the shut out for Re/Max and veteran Dallas Stanton netted what stood up as the winning goal at 8:30 of the first period. Riley Deadmarsh and Thomas Abenante added insurance markers for Re/Max as McIsaac stymied the Allstar attack.