COCHRANE, Ont. – The Cochrane Crunch picked up a pair of goals from Zach Hayes then withstood a valiant Timmins Rock comeback bid before prevailing 4-2 Friday in Game 5 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division Final Friday at Tim Horton Event Centre.
With the result, Cochrane wins the best-of-seven series 4-1 and will now advance to the NOJHL championship final vs. either the Rayside-Balfour Canadians or Soo Thunderbirds.
Neither side in Friday’s match-up would connect in a scoreless first period.
The middle stanza however saw the Crunch connect twice in a 34-second span as Cochrane’s Hayes tallied in rapid succession to put the home side up by a pair before the stanza was four minutes old.
They then added to their cushion four and a half minutes into the final stanza as Austin Stauffer notched his fifth of the playoffs to put them up by three.
Refusing to give up, Timmins struck twice in the latter stages of the contest to pull within one as Stewart Parnell scored on the power play at 15:10 before Wayne Mathieu made it 3-2 with 3:33 to go in regulation with an even strength goal.
The Rock then pulled goaltender Eric Jackson in an effort to tie it and force overtime, but Austin Whelan scored into an empty net for the Crunch to finish off the series.
Kyle Herbster dished out two assists to aid the Cochrane.
Shayne Battler made 32 saves to record the win while Jackson stopped 37 of 40 in the season-ending defeat for Timmins.
East Division Final
No. 2 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 5 Timmins Rock
Cochrane wins best-of-seven series 4-1
Game 1: Cochrane 6 Timmins 2
Game 2: Cochrane 3 Timmins 1
Game 3: Timmins 2 Cochrane 0
Game 4: Cochrane 1 Timmins 0
Game 5: Cochrane 4 Timmins 2
Photos courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)