Trail Commercial Hockey: OK Tire climbs to top

With a pair of weekend wins, OK Tire seized the former property of Re/Max Realty, the top spot in the Trail Commercial Hockey League.

With a pair of weekend wins, OK Tire seized the former property of Re/Max Realty, the top spot in the Trail Commercial Hockey League.

The Tire beat Allstar 7-5 Saturday, then squeezed out a 4-3 victory over Firebird Sunday to leap over Re/Max in the TCHL standings. The realtors tied Allstar Maintenance 4-4 Sunday and now sit one point back of the Tire with 40 points, heading into the final games of the season.

The Tire’s top scoring tandem of Shane Drake and Shaun Venturini teamed up in the dying seconds of the third period to break a 3-3 tie and lift the road huggers into first place.

OK’s veteran wonder Kevin Chartres fed Venturini whose tape-to-tape pass sprung a streaking Drake who made no mistake in beating Firebird’s Mike Kooznetsoff for the 4-3 win.

It was Drake’s second point of the night and his goal also vaulted him past Graham Proulx in the scoring race. Drake now has 22 goals and 40 assists for 66 points while former two-time scoring champion Proulx sits in second at 40-21-61, two points up on Venturini.

OK Tire’s Jeff Sidey, coming off a natural hat trick against Allstar Saturday, stayed hot Sunday opening the scoring on a Drake and Chartres setup at 5:53 of the first.

The Bird answered back midway through the first, when Nathan Stanton beat Rocky Dickson with a hard shot on the power play.

Venturini restored the the lead at 17:11, but Firebird forward Eric Hill would deposit a Mike Turner pass by Dickson to make it 2-2, and before the second-period buzzer sounded, Dan Lind finished a Craig Clare offering to make it 3-2 Bird heading into the third.

Cue the comeback.

Peter Sheets banged in a Troy Palmer pass with under four minutes remaining in the final frame, and with just 26 seconds left Drake beat Kooznetsoff for the winner.

In the other match Sunday, Allstar proved a spoiler of sorts and maintained a solid grasp on a playoff spot with a tie against Re/Max. Down 4-3, Re/Max took a tripping penalty with 33 seconds remaining in the game and Allstar made them pay. Allstar leading point getter, Jim Maniago, potted the tying goal with only 25 seconds left in regulation to steal a much-needed point from the Realtors as they battle for top spot in the TCHL with OK Tire.

Ryan Zanussi started the scoring beating Chris McIsaac at 16:41 of the first with Kris Koshey and Scott Davis getting the assists.

Gabe Gaudet would get it back for Re/Max, but Maniago restored the Allstar lead with 18 seconds still to go in the first.

Graham Proulx netted his 40th goal of the season to tie it once again, but Allstar’s Mark Hutchinson made it 3-2 at 6:39 in the second. Unfortunately, the determined Proulx would strike back setting up Stanton and Jason Vecchio on back-to-back markers to give Re/Max a 4-3 lead and Proulx four points on the night. But Maniago’s 26th goal would even it late.

Both Re/Max and OK Tire have two games remaining before the playoffs start, with an all-important head-to-head matchup going Thursday at 7:15 p.m. while Allstar will face Arlington at 8:15 p.m.

Firebird meanwhile clinched the fourth and final playoff berth Thursday with a 6-4 win over the Big A, and while the top-two seeds are still in question, Allstar Maintenance is fully ensconced in third spot and will face the second seed when the playoffs start Feb. 28.