OK Tire made its move at the right time and nailed down top spot in the Trail Commercial Hockey League on Thursday with a 4-2 victory over Re/Max.
It was a must win game for Re/Max, when the two top teams met in their penultimate match of the season, with the Tire holding a meager two point lead.
But OK shot of the gate taking a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a pair of goals by Shane Drake and another from Kyle Boutin which proved to be the winner at 5:21.
Despite four power plays in the second frame Re/Max could not solve the Tire’s stalwart netminder Rocky Dickson, and Troy Palmer would make it 4-0, taking a pass from Shaun Venturini and beating Re/Max goalie Chris McIsaac at 3:20 of the second.
The realtors would narrow the margin to 4-2 in the third when Gabe Gaudet netted back-to-back goals within a minute of each other, but Dickson shut the door the rest of the way to ensure the Tire the TCHL regular-season title.
Re/Max led the league for most of the season, but faltered going 1-1-3 down the stretch, while the Tire went 4-1-1 in February to overtake the perennial frontrunners.
In the other match Thursday, the Arlington finished its season on a winning note with a 7-4 beating of Allstar Maintenance, but was well out of playoff contention.
In the two final games Sunday, a preview of the opening round playoffs took shape as the Tire played fourth-place Firebird, and Re/Max faced third-place Allstar.
With the league title wrapped up, OK Tire came out flat, spotting Firebird a 3-0 lead before mounting a bit of a comeback only to come up short in a 4-3 Firebird victory. Travis Drake led the way for the Bird with two goals and an assist, while Craig Clare pitched in with a goal and a helper.
The Re/Max and Allstar game was a good indication of a tight, up-coming series as the Allstars Dan Devito held the hot hand, netting a goal and adding four assists in the match.
But it was Graham Proulx’s second goal of the game with 14 seconds remaining in the third period that tied the game 5-5 for Re/Max.
Unfortunately for the finesse forward, he would come up short in the scoring race, as the Tire’s Shane Drake’s two-point game against Firebird proved crucial, propelling Drake to the league scoring title, with a one-point cushion over Proulx.
Drake finished the season with 25 goals and 41 assists for 66 points, while Proulx, a two-time scoring champion, led the league in goals with 42, but his 23 assists netted him just 65 points.
Shaun Venturini finished third overall in scoring with 62 points for the Tire. Dickson finished as top goalie with 16 wins and a 3.28 GAA.
The first-to-four-points series continues on Sunday with games at 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.