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Playoff series preview: Hearst Lumberjacks vs. Timmins Rock

SUDBURY, Ont. – Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff action resumes tonight at McIntyre Arena as the Timmins Rock host the defending champion Hearst Lumberjacks in Game 1 of their best-of-seven East Division semifinal that features a 7 p.m. start.

SEASON SET: During the course of the regular season, while the Rock finished ahead of the Lumberjacks in the standings, the overall season set between the two teams ended up 5-3 in Hearst’s favour.

Seven of those get togethers came before the New Year and the Lumberjacks also outscored the Rock by a narrow 27-26 margin.

With Timmins only allowing 100 goals against all season long, 27 percent of those markers allowed were provided by the Lumberjacks.

The Rock did shutout Hearst in two of their meetings with the clubs splitting their four get togethers at Claude Larose Arena while the Lumberjacks went 3-1 at the Mac.

SCORING: A well spread-out offensive attack saw Timmins produce 10 players with 30 or more points during the campaign.

Leading the way were veteran forwards Josh Dickson and Derek Seguin.

Dickson, the NOJHL’s Most Improved Player, and Seguin, the league’s Top Defensive Forward, had 57 and 54 points respectively and the duo tied for the club lead in goals with 26 each.

Defenceman Josh Anderson was next on the squad with 47 points while Stewart Parnell played at nearly a point-per-game pace with 46 in 47 outings at forward.

A trio of 50-plus point men led Hearst offensively.

Max Griffioen was tops on the Lumberjacks with 57 points followed closely by Dominic Dumas, who had 56, and Jake Desando’s 52.

Griffioen also lead the way with 26 tallies while Dumas, Desando and Olivier Cloutier-Faucher had 21 goals apiece.

BETWEEN THE PIPES: The one-two punch of Tyler Masternak and Vance Meyer racked up 40 wins for the Rock with both netminders finishing with a goals-against average under 2.00 during the campaign.

Masternak also broke his own NOJHL record for shutouts in a season with eight while Meyer had four of his own.

Liam Oxner saw the bulk of the time in net for Hearst as he had 41 appearances while going 21-13-3-1 and playing the second-most minutes in the league in 2019-20 with 2,188.

WHAT’S NEXT: The winner of this series will meet either the Powassan Voodoos or Cochrane Crunch in the East Division Final.

NUMBERS GAME: Timmins once again led the NOJHL in attendance, drawing over 900 spectators per game to McIntyre Arena. … Hearst meanwhile was second in this category averaging 728 per night at Claude Larose Arena. … Max Griffioen of the Lumberjacks and the Rock’s Josh Dickson led their teams in scoring with 57 points apiece, which tied them for 11th overall in the league. … Timmins’ Tyler Gilberds was knotted for second in the NOJHL in game-winning goals with seven. … Tyler Masternak of the Rock led all league netminders in goals-against average at 1.66 while teammate Vance Meyer was next at 1.80. … Masternak was also the leader in shutouts with eight while Meyer followed with four. … Masternak finished second in league wins with 24 and boasted the second-best save percentage at .932. … The Lumberjacks’ David Gobeil was seventh in rookie scoring with 48 points in 52 outings and was second among first-year players in assists with 34. … Timmins’ Josh Anderson’s 49 points placed him third in NOJHL D-man scoring while Hearst’s Justin Miron was 10th having 30 points. … When scoring first the Rock were a solid 34-4-0-1 with the Lumberjacks going 22-4-3-1 in the same category. … The Lumberjacks boasted the second-best power play in the league at 22.4% while the Rock tied for fifth at 18.8%. … Timmins was tops on the penalty kill in the 12-team NOJHL at 88.7% and Hearst finished in fourth at 84.2%. … When leading after two periods, the Rock were nearly unbeatable by going 37-1-0-0. … As for the Lumberjacks, they sported a 22-1-2-0 mark when up after 40 minutes.

ONLINE VIEWING: All NOJHL playoff games can be watched online, via a pay-per-view basis, at HockeyTV.com.

East Division semifinal
No. 2 Timmins Rock vs. No. 3 Hearst Lumberjacks
Best-of-seven series
Game 1: Wednesday, March 11 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 2: Friday, March 13 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 3: Sunday, March 15 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Arena)
Game 4: Tuesday, March 17 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Arena)
Game 5*: Thursday, March 19 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Saturday, March 21 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Arena)
Game 7*: Monday, March 23 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
*-if necessary

With files from NOJHL Historian, David Harrison