The Trail Commercial Hockey League’s playoff race will come down to the final game of the season on Thursday, when Arlington takes on Allstar.
With parity ruling supreme this season, it’s appropriate that five points separate second and fifth place in the standings, and only room for four of the five TCHL teams in the postseason.
Gericks made its move in the final week, beating Re/Max twice in a 4-2 victory on Thursday and a crucial 5-4 win on Sunday to capture second place and possibly deliver a playoff dagger to the realtors, while Arlington stayed alive with a huge victory over OK Tire.
Playing in its last game of the regular season, Re/Max jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on a rare goal from defenceman Curtis Toneff and another from Devyn Hill, who tallied his sixth of the season on a pass from Cam Keith.
Gericks answered two minutes into the second frame when Nathan Stanton converted a Craig Clare offering, but Toneff replied with his second of the night on a setup from Hill to restore the two goal lead. Four minutes later, however, Stanton struck again beating Re/Max goalie Chris McIsaac to make it 3-2. Gericks then tied it at 4:30 when Ross McDonell notched his first of the season with assists to Clare and Travis Drake to set up a thrilling finish.
Re/Max pressed and regained a 4-3 lead when Toneff took a feed from Keith and blasted an unprecedented hat-trick goal past goalie Mike Kooznetsoff. But Gericks wouldn’t fold, and came out flying in the third. Clare tied it on Drake’s third assist of the night at 4:40, and 40 seconds later Al Berglund put the finishing touches on a pretty passing play from Gord Aiken and Clare for the 5-4 victory.
The wins over Re/Max catapulted Gericks to a three-point lead on the realtors and Arlington and a five-point cushion on Allstar, who lost to OK Tire on Sunday.
A pair of goals by Joel Graf propelled the Tire to a 3-2 victory over Allstar, leaving Allstar two points back of Re/Max and Arlington both with 30 points, heading into the final game on Thursday against Arlington.
Meanwhile, the Big A beat OK Tire by a field goal on Thursday to stay tied with Re/Max and ensure a playoff berth. The 10-7 victory came on the strength of a four-goal outburst from Thomas Hardy and a six-point game from Pat Iannone.
An Arlington victory would eliminate Allstar from the playoffs. However, if Allstar were to win, it would leave all three teams tied with 30 points, and Re/Max out of the playoff equation due to fewest wins (12). Allstar would get third seed based on goal differential, unless the Big A were to defeat Allstar by 34 goals, which is completely within the realm of possibility for the high-flying Arlington.
Check out the action on Thursday, as Allstar battles for its playoff life against the Arlington at 7:15 and Gericks and OK Tire play for what could be a preview of the league final at 8:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena.