TIMMINS, Ont. – Riding a trio early period tallies and an eventual outburst later helped the Timmins Rock skate to a 6-1 triumph over the Hearst Lumberjacks Tuesday evening in Game 1 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division Final in front of 1,018 spectators at McIntyre Arena.
Needing less than two and a half minutes to start things off offensively, Timmins tacked on the initial marker of the series as they broke out on an odd-man rush and saw Henry Brock make a perfect cross-ice feed over to Nicholas Frederick, who promptly whipped a shot into the left-hand corner on Hearst netminder Liam Oxner.
The Rock had another great chance moments later, but Oxner came across and made a stellar stop to keep it 1-0 for the hosts early.
Boasting the league’s best power play proficiency during the course of the regular season, Hearst clicked again with the man advantage, just past the 11-minute mark, as defenceman Jaden Raad took a nice pass from Dylan Ford in the left circle and snapped one by Timmins’ goalkeeper Gavin McCarthy.
Regaining the lead early in the second stanza, while up a skater, Cameron Dutkiewicz used a little give-and-go with teammate Tyler Gilberds before firing one through a crowd from the top of the slot that beat a screened Oxer at 1:30.
Flying out of the gate to begin the final frame, Gilberds split the Hearst defence and went in alone on a breakaway where he made a crafty move to the backhand on a deke and lifted the puck over the outstretched pad of Oxner, just 35 seconds in.
The Rock then added some insurance at 6:47 as they forced a turnover in the neutral zone and came in with numbers with Christopher Engelbert finishing off the play by ripping one into the corner from the right side.
Breaking it open, Timmins tacked on two more in rapid succession to help secure the home ice victory.
Nicolas Pigeon, with a short side wrister, via the power play, made it 5-1 and also spelled the end of Oxner’s night in favour of back-up Matteo Gennaro.
The Rock were quick to greet Gennaro though as Riley Brousseau notched his second of the playoffs after driving down the left wing and also picking the short side for an even-strength effort at 9:01.
That was it for the night’s scoring as the hosts skated away with the victory.
Game 2 goes Wednesday back in Timmins and features a 7:30 p.m. start.
NOJHL East Division Final
Timmins Rock vs. Hearst Lumberjacks
Rock leads best-of-seven series
Game 1: Rock 6 Lumberjacks 1
Game 2: Wednesday, April 20 @ Timmins 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 3: Saturday, April 23 @ Hearst 7:30 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 4: Sunday, April 24 @ Hearst 4 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 5*: Monday, April 25 @ Timmins 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Wednesday, April 27 @ Hearst 7:30 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 7*: Friday, April 29 @ Timmins 7:30 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel