TIMMINS, Ont. – An Owen Power blast with 7:12 remaining in regulation proved to be the deciding tally as the Hearst Lumberjacks defeated the Timmins Rock 4-3 Friday in the seventh and deciding game of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s East Division Final in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,868 at McIntyre Arena.
The win gives the Lumberjacks the best-of-seven series 4-3 as they now move on to meet the Soo Thunderbirds in Game 1 of the NOJHL final, which goes Sunday at 7 p.m. at GFL Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Friday’s contest saw the home side strike first when Riley Brousseau forced a turnover at the Hearst blueline, then got it over to Gabinien Kioki, who set-up an open Carson Cox who blasted a one-timer from the right circle that Lumberjacks’ starter Liam Oxner could only get a piece before it trickled across the goal line.
Picking up a two-man advantage later in the first period, Timmins went up by a pair thanks to Nicholas Frederick, who took a cross-ice feed from Christopher Engelbert and calmly outwaited a diving Oxner before lifting it over the sprawled netminder at 15:06.
Getting one back early in the second stanza, Ryan Glazer did some solid work deep in Rock territory and put a pass out front that was quickly chipped in by a waiting Tyren Grimsdale past goalkeeper Gavin McCarthy.
The Hearst power play then leveled the proceedings at 12:42 as Glazer made a nice play once again and put a back hand over to Raphael Lajeunesse, who promptly whipped in the equalizer into the open side.
Building on their momentum, the visitors took the lead over a minute later when Andrew Potyk wheeled around the net and put the puck into the crease that was inadvertently knocked in by a Rock defenceman, who was trying to clear it away.
Timmins tied it 72 seconds into the third, thanks to Harry Clark setting-up Nicolas Pigeon in the slot, as he quickly whipped one upstairs on Oxner.
Getting the go-ahead marker in the back half of the session, Porter hammered one from the high slot that flew into the top right-hand corner.
Oxner and his teammates held firm from there to wrap-up the series that saw the visiting team come away victorious in each of the last four match-ups.
NOJHL East Division Final
Timmins Rock vs. Hearst Lumberjacks
Hearst wins best-of-seven series 4-3
Game 1: Rock 6 Lumberjacks 1
Game 2: Lumberjacks 5 Rock 3
Game 3: Lumberjacks 6 Rock 5 (OT)
Game 4: Rock 6 Lumberjacks 3
Game 5: Lumberjacks 3 Rock 2 (OT)
Game 6: Rock 3 Lumberjacks 1
Game 7: Lumberjacks 4 Rock 3
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel