It was two very different semifinal games in the Trail Commercial League Hockey action last week, but in the end, the two top teams in the regular-season emerged and will play for the TCHL final tonight at the Cominco Arena.
Top seeded OK Tire scored with a minute remaining in regulation to defeat the upstart fourth seed Firebird team 2-1, to take its semifinal series two games to one, while number two seed Re/Max blew the doors off All Star Maintenance, 10-2, to take its series.
The Tires Jeremy Webber scored the winner with exactly 60 ticks left on the clock when he converted a nice passing play from Shaun Venturini and Mike Fudge, firing it by goaltender Mike Kooznetsoff who was brilliant between the pipes for the Bird.
Firebird shocked the Tire with a 3-0 win in Game 2 to tie the series and force the third and deciding game.
The Tire’s Darrin Williams started the scoring, after the Bird’s Eric Hill took a roughing penalty at 7:11 of the first. The deceptively mobile veteran defenceman Kevin Chartres started the play, passing to Venturini who saucered a gift to Williams who made no mistake in beating Kooznetsoff.
Despite power-play chances by both teams through the second, the game would remain tied thanks to the stellar goaltending from former Beaver Valley Nitehawk Rocky Dickson and Castlegar native Kooznetsoff.
It would stay that way until late in the third when with three minutes remaining Travis Drake finally solved Dickson, ruining the shutout on a pretty setup from Mike Boisvert and Gord Aiken, before Webber would end it with his last-minute marker.
In the other matchup between Re/Max and Allstar Maintenance, the realtors ran away with it in the second, downing Allstar 10-2 to advance to the final against OK Tire.
Defenceman Luke Russell had a massive night for Re/Max scoring what proved to be the winner at 7:44 of the opening frame. The nimble blue liner took a Paul Barclay offering and fired it by Allstar goalie Tim Wiley to make it 3-1.
Russell ended the night with a hat trick and an assist to lead the realtors charge to the final, where they will look to exact some revenge on the Tire for taking their league title in the final month of the season.
Allstar’s Dan Devito would narrow the margin to 3-2 at 6:48 of the first but Re/Max would net seven straight unanswered markers to coast to victory.
Dave Eccles’ hat trick and three assists led the realtors in scoring on the night, while finesse forward Gaudet pitched in with five points on a goal and four assists.
The physical game ended on a feisty note when frustrated forward Graham Proulx dropped the gloves with Allstar defenceman Tim Bouchier.
The one-game, winner-takes-all final goes tonight at the Cominco Arena at 7:15 p.m.