TIMMINS, Ont. – A 4-2 victory for the Timmins Rock Sunday afternoon at McIntyre Arena, versus the Soo Thunderbirds, saw them capture the 2022-23 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season title.
This marks the first season crown for the community since the then Timmins Golden Bears accomplished the feat back in 1994-95.
In Sunday’s match-up, some crisp puck movement by Sault Ste. Marie, during a power play, helped them open the scoring 12 minutes into the contest.
The set-up saw Brock Santa Maria put a pass in front that was eventually knocked in by a Dharan Cap backhand past Timmins starter Patrick Boivin.
Countering quickly, the Rock tied it with a man advantage effort of their own at 13:12 as Nicolas Pigeon made a smart cross-ice feed over to Nicholas Frederick, who went top shelf with a snap-shot, one-timer, high over Thunderbirds’ netminder Landon Miller.
The assist for Pigeon gave him at least one point in 21 straight outings and had him etch his name on the game sheet in 40 of his past 41 contests.
The home side then added another, by striking late in the period, and take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
That saw defenceman Kenyon Nyman bank the puck high off the glass, which was chased down by Frederick, and in turn sent over to a hard-charging Lucas Piekarczyk, who whipped his chance high over Miller.
In the middle stanza, Timmins went up by a pair at 6:15 thanks to Christophe Petit, who saw a Hayden Rynard attempt bank off him and slip past the Soo goalkeeper, with a jumble of players jammed in front.
The T-Birds pulled back to within one with another man advantage effort from Cap near the five-minute mark of the third.
Helping put the game away and wrap-up the No. 1 overall seed heading into the playoffs, Brady Harroun slammed in his league-leading 50th goal of the season with 7:52 to go, to finish off a power play.
With that, Harroun becomes the first 50-goal scorer in the NOJHL since back in 2015-16 when Logan Fredericks (Kirkland Lake Gold Miners) and Hunter Atchison (Cochrane Crunch) notched 51 and 50 tallies respectively in 53 games played.
Timmins was solid defensively the rest of the way to collect the triumph and finish with a NOJHL-best 95 points and a record of 45-8-3-2.
With the loss, the Thunderbirds finished up with a 36-15-3-3 mark.
Both clubs will now begin preparations for the upcoming playoffs, which get underway in the coming days.
Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel