In the last two weeks of play, the Rex Red Army relaxed its grip on second place long enough for OK Tire to pump itself up and seize it, as the Trail Commercial Hockey League regular season wrapped up on the weekend and teams get set for playoffs tonight.
The Tire is running hot of late, as they bumped off league-leading Re/Max 8-3 Thursday, before rolling over Firebird 7-1 Sunday to take sole possession of second spot in the TCHL.
Shaun Venturini and Darren Williams led the Tire over Firebird, as the two combined for nine points in the game.
After Shaun Venturini made it 1-0 eight minutes into the first, Williams tallied what proved to be the winner 90 seconds later when he converted a nice setup from Troy Palmer and Venturini.
The Tire made it 4-0 at the end of the first with goals from Shane Drake and Williams’ second. Palmer added one of his own to go with two helpers, before Williams popped his third.
Venturini rounded out the second with a fine individual effort, scoring his second of the night shorthanded to go along with three assists. Arguably the hottest player in the league, Venturini’s five-point night comes on the heels of 6-point outburst, where he scored four and added two assists against Re/Max.
Travis Drake whispered a reply for the Firebird late in the third.
The Rex meanwhile enters the playoffs on less than a positive note, giving up two goals in the third period for the 4-4 tie with Arlington.
Down 4-2 early in the third period, the Big A’s Darrell Zol scored twice in less than 20 seconds to even the score.
Arlington jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, when Kelly Shippet set up Kris Kent, however five minutes later Andrew Jenner did it all by himself, scoring on a pretty goal to knot it at one.
Arlington scored on a powerplay to go up 2-1, but the Army would fire back, scoring three straight goals. Jenner netted his 30th of the season to put the Rex up 3-2 and Stu McFarlane netted a short-handed marker to put the Rex up by two, before the third-period collapse.
Re/Max, the regular season champs, also limps into the playoffs. Following the 8-3 loss to OK Tire, the realtors’ Dallas Stanton scored in the dying seconds of the third period to salvage a tie with Firebird 4-4 on Saturday.
The first playoff games go tonight with Re/Max taking on Firebird at 7:15 p.m. and OK Tire rolling up against the Rex at 8:30 p.m. at the Cominco Arena. Game 2 of the best-of-three series go Sunday at 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 respectively.