It was deja vu all over again and again as the Trail Commercial Hockey League final pitted the top two seeds, OK Tire and RE/Max, against each other in the championship match.
And just like last season’s 5-2 finale, this back-and-forth battle ended in a 5-3 come-from-behind victory for the rubber barons.
OK Tire was pumped after taking the TCHL regular-season crown by two points over Re/Max, and after a bumpy start against Firebird in the playoffs, the mud-busting marauders would oust the Birds in three, paving their way to its fifth straight championship on Thursday.
Smooth-skating Shaun Venturini gathered a pass from Darrin Williams and beat Re/Max goalie Chris McIsaac at 4:23 of the second period netting what proved to be the winner, after being down 3-1 in the first period.
The Tire’s indefatigable D-man Darrin Kissock opened the scoring with a blast from the point, but Re/Max would strike back quickly.
First, former Beaver Valley Avalanche Paul Barclay snuck one by the Tire’s netminder Rocky Dickson to tie it, then 30 seconds later Kieran Hill converted a nice pass from Cohen Rutherglen to give the realtors the 2-1 lead.
Re/Max forward Jason Vecchio wired home a nice offering from two-time TCHL scoring champion Graham Proulx following a pin-point pass from an unassuming but always dangerous Grant Tyson to make it a two-goal lead, but the durable Tire would not be denied.
Venturini got the Tires rolling when he notched his first of two on the night after a sparkling setup from Drake. Power forward Kyle Boutin would then be on the finishing end of another Drake and Williams passing play to tie it at 8:23 of the middle frame before Venturini’s heroics netted the winner.
Drake would ice the game collecting his fourth point of the night, as he completed a surprisingly finesse play from the dynamic defensive duo of Kissock and Kevin Chartres. The Tire would ride Dickson, a former Beaver Valley Nitehawk, the rest of the way to claim the TCHL title.
Drake received the Most Valuable Player award in the playoffs and regular season scoring title, while the season MVP went to Craig Clare, best defenceman to Dallas Stanton, and best goalie to Mike Kooznetsoff.