Photos: Marc Johnson
HEARST, Ont. – The Timmins Rock broke open a tie game with a trio of tallies in the back-half of the third period to defeat the Hearst Lumberjacks 6-3 Sunday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff action at Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
With the outcome, this best-of-seven East Division Final is now tied at two games apiece, with the clubs getting right back at it Monday night with a 7:30 p.m. start at McIntyre Arena in Timmins.
Going to the power play mid-way through the first period, the visitors capitalized at 10:41 when Harry Clark put a pass over to Tyler Schwindt, who cruised into the left circle and proceeded to fire one over the shoulder of Hearst goaltender Liam Oxner, to put the guests on top.
Answering back though, the Lumberjacks drew level two and a half minutes later when Tyler Patterson struck shorthanded as he knocked down a clearing attempt in the neutral zone then came come the right wing where he neatly picked the short side corner on Rock netminder Gavin McCarthy.
Holding Hearst at bay, who had a lengthy two-man advantage to begin the second stanza, Timmins built on that and retook the lead at 7:56 while down a skater.
That came when Nicolas Pigeon forced a turnover and darted in on the left side and was impeded with a slash that brought about a penalty shot call.
With his opportunity, Pigeon slowly skated in and outwaited Oxner before going right and snapping in a go ahead marker over the goalkeeper’s pad.
Returning to the power play though, the Lumberjacks tied it once more when Jaden Raad was set-up by his D-partner Dylan Ford and moved in on the left and fired the equalizer through McCarthy at 11:43.
However, the Rock countered quickly as Landon Deforge neatly redirected Felix Cadieux-Fredette’s shot from the point to send the puck the other direction and into the open side.
An action-packed finish to the period saw each side have glorious chances to score, featuring Oxner coming up with a huge save on a breakaway by Timmins’ Tyler Gilberds with just a couple of seconds remaining.
In the third, the hosts got another tying tally to knot the affair at 3-3 with 11:32 left in regulation after Alex Hunt kept a play onside at the blueline where eventually Zachary Demers converted with a nice wrist shot from the right faceoff dot.
Regaining the lead in the back half of the third, the Rock’s Nolan Ring skated over the line and put an attempt on net that fooled Oxner and sailed into the top left corner, in what proved to be the eventual game-winner.
Going back to a man advantage after that, Timmins got some insurance with 4:48 to go as Schwindt dished one out from behind the net to an open Clark in the slot, who quickly whipped in his third of the postseason to help secure the road victory.
Hearst did get their goalkeeper out for an extra skater after that, but Timmins finished off the scoring with a Nicholas Frederick empty netter.
NOJHL East Division Final
Timmins Rock vs. Hearst Lumberjacks
Best-of-seven series tied 2-2
Game 1: Rock 6 Lumberjacks 1
Game 2: Lumberjacks 5 Rock 3
Game 3: Lumberjacks 6 Rock 5 (OT)
Game 4: Rock 6 Lumberjacks 3
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)