SUDBURY, Ont. – It’s down to the final four in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League with both division finals getting underway Friday evening.
Here’s a look at the East Division match-up featuring the Cochrane Crunch and Timmins Rock.
SCHEDULING NOTE: There has been a start time change for Game 6 of this best-of-seven affair in this series, should it be required.
If needed the contest would now get underway at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 8 at McIntyre Arena in Timmins instead of originally scheduled 3 p.m. start.
HOW THEY ARRIVED: Cochrane earned their way in after handling the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in five games in their East semifinal series.
Surprising Timmins meanwhile upset the defending NOJHL champion and 2018 playoffs top seeded side, the Powassan Voodoos, in six contests after finishing 50 points behind them in regular season play.
Overall the Rock are 6-3 in the playoffs to date while the Crunch are 4-1.
Timmins has supplied a league-high 28 goals in the postseason to date, which includes a first round series win over Hearst. They have allowed 23 against.
As for Cochrane, they have 21 tallies to their credit through their first five outings and have only given up eight.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The two competing clubs met eight times during the course of the 2017-18 campaign with the Crunch taking the season set with six victories along with one defeat in regulation and a setback in double overtime.
In those six triumphs Zach Hayes of Cochrane supplied two game-winning tallies and helped set-up another with teammate and league leading point getter Kyle Herbster dished out four assists on game deciding markers.
Cochrane also outscored Timmins 39-21 in those eight meetings.
POINT PRODUCERS: Herbster’s 16 points against the Rock paced his side as he scored three times along the way and doled out 13 helpers.
Levi Johnson and NOJHL Most Valuable Player and Top Defenceman award winner Connor Lovie were next on the Crunch in offensive numbers vs. Timmins with six goals and four assists each.
Then you had Hayes and Nicolas Flanders with eight points apiece while Austin Stauffer and Austin Whelan notched seven. Stauffer’s half dozen markers matched Johnson and Lovie for the club lead in goals.
Derek Sequin led the Rock in scoring against the division final opponent with seven points.
He had a team-best five tallies to go with a pair of assists.
Following him was Grant McClellan and Jordan Picard with five points each with Stewart Parnell, Paul Spadafora, C.J. Bradburn and Tyler Gilberds chipping in with four.
Postseason play sees Sequin leading all NOJHL skaters in playoff goals with seven and is tied for first in scoring with nine points.
Riley Robitaille of the Rock is right behind him with eight points while veteran forward Wayne Mathieu has seven.
Herbster leads Cochrane offensively with six points in five playoff games played.
Hayes, Stauffer, Lovie and Flanders are right behind him with five picked up in the series triumph over Kirkland Lake.
THE GOALTENDERS: In six appearances against Timmins, Cochrane goaltender Taylor Unruh was 4-0-1 against them with a 2.87 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage.
Shayne Battler was 1-0 in net for the Crunch vs. the Rock.
Eric Jackson saw the bulk of the work between the pipes for his side vs. Cochrane and won twice against three defeats.
As for Tyler Masternak, he was 0-3 in games against Cochrane.
In the playoffs though, Masternak leads all league netminders in victories with six and sports a solid .934 save mark.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Cochrane power play was solid in games vs. Timmins this season as they tallied 11 times in 41-man advantage opportunities for a 27% success rate.
The Rock clicked at 13% while up a skater vs. the Crunch by six times in 46 chances.
Neither squad scored while shorthanded in the eight get togethers.
WHAT’S NEXT: The winner of this series will advance to the NOJHL final where they will take on either the Rayside-Balfour Canadians or Soo Thunderbirds for the league title.
The NOJHL champion will also move on to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, May 1-5, in Dryden, Ont.
East Division Final
No. 2 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 5 Timmins Rock
Game 1: Friday, March 30 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 2: Saturday, March 31 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 3: Monday, April 2 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 4: Wednesday, April 4 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 5*: Friday, April 6 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 8 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game7*: Tuesday, April 10 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
*- if necessary
All NOJHL playoff games are streamed online at HockeyTV.com.
With files from NOJHL Statistician & Historian David Harrison
Photos courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)