TIMMINS, Ont. – The Hearst Lumberjacks built up a four-goal lead then had to withstand a comeback bid by the Timmins Rock before eventually prevailing with a 5-4 victory in Game 6 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division semifinal Monday, with 1,268 fans on hand, at McIntyre Arena.
This means the best-of-seven set is now tied 3-3 with Game 7 going Wednesday night at Claude Larose Arena in Hearst at 7 p.m.
Picking up an early power play, it was the visitors that were quick to capitalize as Max Johnson connected with help from Cameron Clark and Daniel Fisher at 3:15.
The Lumberjacks then went up by a pair later in the first period after generating a couple of chances from behind the net that eventually saw Bradley Golant left alone on the left side where he lifted a backhander over a sprawled Timmins goaltender, Tyler Masternak, at 13:35.
They then came right back on the next shift add added another off a dump in that resulted in Blaise Arkle firing a cross-crease feed to Clark, who was left with a tap in 18 seconds later.
Gaining some momentum, the Rock got one back late in the frame as Matt Capisciolto broke in on a three-on-two and calmly worked his way in on Hearst starter Nicholas Tallarico and snapped a shot that trickled through his legs and found its way in at 17:53 to make 3-1 after 20 minutes.
The Lumberjacks restored their three-goal cushion 7:50 into the middle stanza after breaking out of their own zone, as Sebastien Doucet dished a pass over to Garett Giertuga, who slid in his first of the playoffs underneath Masternak.
They then added another midway through the session to go up be four after intercepting a clearing attempt than saw Max Johnson walk in and tuck in his second of the evening and resulted in the Rock replacing Masternak shortly afterwards at the mid-period timeout with Jean-Marc Brisson coming in and going the rest of the way.
A late man advantage helped the home side make it 5-2 with Keegan McMullen snapping one in from the right side at 18:28.
Timmins drew closer early in the third as they used some crisp passing that resulted in McMullen chipping in his second of the night and NOJHL-leading ninth of the playoffs three and a half minutes into the session.
Going to the play once again, the Rock added another to pull within one after Tallarico was knocked over in a pile of players during a goal-mouth scramble, that allowed Capisciolto to shovel his second of the night into the open right side with 11:55 remaining in regulation.
Hearst however held on from there to secure the pivotal road triumph and send the series to a deciding match-up Wednesday.
Shots on goal were 32-30 in favour of the Lumberjacks with Tallarico picking up the win.
Masternak suffered the setback allowing the five against on 19 attempts with Brisson handling all 13 shots he saw in relief.
East Division semifinal
No. 1 Hearst Lumberjacks vs. No. 4 Timmins Rock
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
Game 1: Hearst 6 Timmins 3
Game 2: Timmins 6 Hearst 2
Game 3: Timmins 2 Hearst 1 (OT)
Game 4: Timmins 2 Hearst 1 (OT)
Game 5: Hearst 5 Timmins 3
Game 6: Hearst 5 Timmins 4
Game 7: Wednesday, March 27 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Arena)