Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The Timmins Rock rode the strength of a four-goal second period barrage, then withstood a late comeback bid, before picking up a 7-4 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds Monday night in Game 4 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League final for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy, at John Rhodes Community Centre.
The outcome evens the best-of-seven series at two wins apiece, heading into Game 5 Wednesday in Timmins at 7 p.m. and on HockeyTV.com.
The visiting Rock took the lead with the lone tally of the first period when captain Nicolas Pigeon danced around a Sault Ste. Marie defender and put one past netminder Landon Miller.
Drawing even while on a man advantage just over five minutes into the middle stanza, Dharan Cap collected his NOJHL-leading ninth marker of the playoffs as he took a cross-ice pass from Kaden Dundas and snapped it by Timmins’ goalkeeper Jacob Brown from the slot.
Coming right back, Ethan Pool put the visitors in front once more moments later as he finished off a nice passing play with help from Nicholas Frederick and Kenyon Nyman.
Liam Wells then made it 3-1 at 16:02 as he countered in transition and sped down the left wing and fired one through Miller.
Getting one back a couple of shifts later, Brock Santa Maria brought the hosts to within one while going hard to the net and jamming the puck across the goal line off a pile-up in the crease.
However, the Rock scored twice in the final 18 seconds of the period to go up by three after 40 minutes.
Brandon Rossetti made it 4-2 as he pinched in from the point and put a shot by Miller from in close.
Timmins then added another moments later and saw Pool pot his second of the night by finishing off a rebound from a Harry Clark rush.
Opting to make a goaltending change to begin the third, Kolton Bourret entered the contest for the Soo to make just his second postseason appearance.
Getting closer, Thunderbirds’ affiliate player Callum McAuley bagged his first league playoff marker at 8:15 when he whipped one in from between the circles.
Getting Bourret out for an extra attacker, the T-Birds’ Tyler Boudreau put one upstairs on Brown from the top of the right circle with 2:16 to play.
Pressing to tie it and force overtime, the Soo looked to level the proceedings in the late going, but the Rock’s Brady Harroun snagged a loose puck in his end of the ice and sent it the length of it into an empty net.
They then saw Wells wrap-up the scoring with another empty netter in the final moments.
Awaiting the NOJHL champion will be a berth to the Centennial Cup, May 11-21, in Portage la Prairie, Man.
Timmins Rock vs. Soo Thunderbirds
Game 1: Rock 4 Thunderbirds 0
Game 2: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 0
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Rock1
Game 4: Rock 7 Thunderbirds 4
Game 5: Wednesday, April 26 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6: Sunday, April 30 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, May 2 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Best-of-seven series tied 2-2
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel