UPDATE / GALLERY: Rock break open close contest in third period, roll over Rapids

Timmins Rock forwards Mason Svarich and Jack Anderson watch as the puck bounce off the twine behind French River Rapids goalie Brady Dyer during the third period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Svarich’s 33rd goal of the season proved to be the game-winner, as the Rock went on to defeat the Rapids 6-2. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The Timmins Rock got two goals each from Harry Clark and Kaeden McArthur as they knocked off the French River Rapids 6-2 at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS, Ont. – It allowed the Rock (37-14-2-0) to maintain their 11-point lead on the Hearst Lumberjacks (30-15-3-2) and the Powassan Voodoos (31-18-1-2) atop the NOJHL’s East Division standings.

The Rapids gave the Rock all they could handle during the first two periods of Friday night’s contest before the home side broke things wide open in the final 20 minutes.

McArthur’s first of his two goals in the game and 19th of the season put the Rock in front 1-0 at the 16:41 mark of the opening period.

It took the Rapids just 30 seconds of the middle frame to get back on even terms, however, as Michael Christopoulos netted his sixth goal of the season.

Clark’s first of two goals in the contest and 35th of the season put the Rock back in front 54 seconds later.

The Rapids battled back to tie things up at 2-2 before the second intermission, with Dominic Bzdyl netted his 12th goal of the season.

The game remained deadlocked until the 10:47 mark of the third period when Mason Svarich scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his 33rd tally of the campaign.

McArthur followed with his second goal of the game and 20th of the season just over two minutes later.

Lucas Lowe then added the first of two Rock power-play markers, his 15th goal of the season.

And Clark closed out the scoring when he added his second goal of the game and 36th of the season, with the Rock enjoying the man advantage.

“The way our guys responded to some of the rough stuff in the third period, gave us a lot more energy,” Clark said, explaining what provided the Rock with a little extra energy.

“We rallied for the guys who had fought for us out there.”

McArthur and Rock blue-liner Tenzin Nyman, as well as Rapids blue-liner Gavin Haslam and forward Nolan Masson were ejected from the contest late in the third period after they were each assessed five-minute fighting majors and game misconducts.

Given the Rock boast the NOJHL’s No. 1 power play, with an efficiency rating of 33.1 per cent, opponents need to stay out of the penalty box, a lesson the Rapids learned the hard way Friday night.

“At the start of the game, we were not as clean on the power play as we would have liked, but we cleaned it up and made some adjustments and I think things worked out pretty good,” Clark said.

At the start of the season, Clark had just one goal in his first seven games and two in his initial 11 appearances, although the 15 assists he had during that time is proof he was still a productive member of the Rock offence. In the 41 games he has played since, he has found the back of the net 34 times.

“At the start of the year, I was getting so frustrated with myself and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, with regard to me scoring but my linemates kind of helped me, (Brant) Romaniuk and Svarich, and (Nolan) Ring, and lately things have been a lot better,” he said.

Clark noted the Rock are playing with a lot of confidence as the playoffs draw near and the serious business of defending the NOJHL championship they won in 2023 kicks into high gear.

“We just have to take these opportunities to work on our game, make sure we are doing what we want to do heading into the playoffs,” he said.

Speaking of the playoffs, Clark is one of a number of Rock players who have begun to cultivate playoff beards.

“I have been working on it quite some time, it takes me a little while, so I had to get a head start,” he said.

“Right now, Lucas Lowe probably has the best playoff beard in our room, but some of these guys who were here last year can grow some pretty nice beards.”

Rock goalie Dryden Riley stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced to earn his 19th win of the season.

Rapids netminder Brady Dyer, who turned aside 44 of the 50 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Clark, McArthur and Lowe … The Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Rapids were 0-1 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 870 … Friday’s other action saw the Powassan Voodoos edge the Paper Kings 4-3 in Espanola, the Lumberjacks hold off the Blind River Beavers 4-3 in a shootout in Hearst and the Soo Eagles top the Elliot Lake Vikings 3-2 in Massey … The Rock will take on the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex on Saturday, at 7 p.m. The next home game will see the Rock host the Iroquois Falls Storm at the McIntyre Arena on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.