TIMMINS, Ont. – A late first period power play goal by Timmins Rock defenceman Brandon Rossetti proved to be the game-winner Wednesday in a 3-2 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds in the fifth contest of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League final for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy, in front of a season-high 1,640 spectators on hand at McIntyre Arena.
With the outcome, the Timmins now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 and will have the opportunity to win the NOJHL title Sunday evening in Game 6 in Sault Ste. Marie, and on HockeyTV.com.
Wednesday’s tilt saw the Rock open the scoring just 50 seconds into the proceedings when Harry Clark banged in a rebound off a Kenyon Nyman point shot that Thunderbirds netminder Landon Miller could not control.
Extending their edge with a man advantage marker late in the first, Justin Charette jammed in a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble at 18:09.
Up a skater once more before the period expired, Timmins went up 3-0 after 20 minutes of play thanks to Rossetti pumping one in from the top of the left circle, with only 4.8 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.
Action in the second stanza saw the Soo power play convert to get them on the board at 16:33 as Dharan Cap picked up his NOJHL-leading 10th tally of the playoffs when he took a Jackson Truchan feed and fired a second chance attempt off the leg of a Rock defender and past Patrick Boivin in the Timmins net.
Moving to the third, the T-Birds pulled Miller for an additional skater with three minutes remaining, which helped them pull to within one as Brock Santa Maria went to the net and stuffed in a Youssef Chaouachi effort from the right of the crease at 17:41.
Getting their goalie out once more in an effort for force overtime, the Soo pressed hard for the equalizer, but the Rock held firm defensively to secure the home ice triumph.
The NOJHL champion will move on to represent the league at the Centennial Cup Canadian Jr. A championship, May 11-21, in Portage la Prairie, Man.
Timmins Rock vs. Soo Thunderbirds
Game 1: Rock 4 Thunderbirds 0
Game 2: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 0
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 1
Game 4: Rock 7 Thunderbirds 4
Game 5: Rock 3 Thunderbirds 2
Game 6: Sunday, April 30 @ Soo 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, May 2 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Timmins leads best-of-seven series 3-2
Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel