TIMMINS, Ont. – A Max Griffioen breakaway goal 16:36 into the second period proved to the game-winner as the Hearst Lumberjacks rallied for a 3-2 triumph over the Timmins Rock Monday evening in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division quarter-final in front of a boisterous crowd of 1,168 fans at McIntyre Arena.
As a result, this best-of-three series is now tied at 1-1 setting the stage for a third and deciding game Wednesday evening at the Claude Larose Arena in Hearst at 7 p.m.
Timmins got off to a solid start in Monday’s contest with Derek Seguin darting around a Hearst defender along the right side before cutting in and snapping a shot that beat Lumberjacks’ goalkeeper Matt Kustra five minutes in.
The Rock added to their cushion at 6:50 when A.J. Campbell connected from the slot to put the home side up by a pair after one period.
Hearst really pressed the pace in the middle stanza in an effort to get on the board as they carried the play for the majority of the frame.
They were first rewarded with a fortuitous bounce when Spencer Silver fired the puck toward the front of the net that deflected off a Timmins defenceman and into the open side that Rock starter Tyler Masternak had no chance on.
The visitors kept coming and drew level at 15:12 as they capitalized on a man advantage opportunity with Max Johnson backhanding in the tying tally off the rebound of an Alec Johnson point shot.
It was more Hearst before the middle session was complete as Dawson Waddell’s pass from his own zone sent Griffioen in all alone on a breakaway and he made no mistake as he lifted a backhand high over Masternak to give the guests the lead in what turned out to be the difference maker in the match-up.
Heading to the third, the Rock pushed hard in the late stages to try and tie it and force overtime, but Kustra stood tall to preserve the victory and send it back for Hearst for Wednesday’s finale.
Samuel Bourdages and Alec Johnson had two assists each for the Lumberjack on the night.
Shots on goal favoured Timmins by a narrow 32-31 margin with Kustra picking up the win while Masternak suffered the setback.
East Division quarter-final series
No. 4 Hearst Lumberjacks vs. No. 5 Timmins Rock
Best-of-three series tied 1-1
Game 1: Timmins 3 Hearst 2 (OT)
Game 2: Hearst 3 Timmins 2
Game 3: Wednesday, March 14 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Arena)
Photos courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)