Can Rock upset Voodoos?

If the Timmins Rock hope to upset the Powassan Voodoos in their best-of-seven NOJHL East Division semi-final series, they will have to shut down high-scoring forward Tyson Gilmour. The son of former NHL star Doug Gilmour, who finished third in the NOJHL’s regular-season scoring race, scored two goals and assisted on 11 others in eight games against the Rock this season. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAIILY PRESS

By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)

POWASSAN – Rock fans won’t have to wait as long as originally anticipated to cheer on their NOJHL squad in Game 3 and Game 4 of their East Division semi-final series with the Powassan Voodoos.

The NOJHL announced late Thursday night the dates for those two games at the McIntyre Arena — originally set for Thursday, March 22, and Friday, March 23 — have been changed to Tuesday, March 20, and Wednesday, March 21.

In addition, Game 5 of the series, if necessary, will now be played at the Powassan Sportsplex on Friday, March 23.

Game 6, if necessary, will now be played at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, March 25, and Game 7, if necessary, will now be played at the Powassan Sportsplex on Tuesday, March 27.

All seven of the contests — should they all be required — are scheduled to be 7 p.m. starts.

In a press release issued late Thursday night, the league did not specify any reasons for the changes.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven East Division semi-final series was played Friday night at the Powassan Sportsplex, but details from that contest were not available at press time.

The Powassan Sportsplex will also be the scene for Game 2 of the series on Saturday night.

On paper, the series between the Voodoos and the Rock appears to be a mismatch of biblical proportions — with Powassan (45-7-1-3, first in the East Division standings and first overall) playing the roll of Goliath and Timmins (19-31-3-3, fifth in the East Division standings and 10th overall) being the sling shot toting David.

Forget for a second that 50 points separated the Voodoos from the Rock at the conclusion of the NOJHL’s 56-game schedule, but consider Powassan’s high-octain offence produced 299 goals (No. 1 in the NOJHL) this season compared to the 142 (No. 11) scored by Timmins.

In other words, the Voodoos scored more than twice as many goals as the Rock this season.

And while the recently dispatched Lumberjacks outscored the Rock during the regular season, Timmins had a superior defensive record than Hearst.

That cannot be said of this matchup, however, as the Voodoos allowed just 171 goals (No. 6 in the NOJHL) this season compared to the 184 (No. 8) surrendered by the Rock.

When it comes to special teams, the gap is just as wide, with the Voodoos’ power play ranking No. 2 in the NOJHL after scoring 74 goals in 341 opportunities for an efficiency rating of 23.1%, while the Rock sat at No. 11, with 43 power-play goals in 309 opportunities for an efficiency rating of 13.9%.

Things are a little closer when you look at the penalty kill, where the Voodoos were ranked No. 2 in the NOJHL with an efficiency rating of 86.4% (41 goals allowed in 301 opportunities), while the Rock were No. 6 with an efficiency rating of 83.5% (49 goals allowed in 297 chances).

Even when you compare shorthanded goals scored to shorthanded goals allowed, it is advantage Voodoos (15-8) over Rock (7-11).

When you look at individual offensive weapons, you will find the Voodoos have one 30-plus goal scorer — NOJHL rookie of the year Harrison Israels (51, 38-31-69, 28) — five 20-plus goal scorers — Tyson Gilmour (55, 25-53-78, 44), Cade Herd (52, 22-35-57, 36), Shane Beaulieu (54, 21-46-67, 14), Tomas Yachmenev (53, 20-32-52, 10) and Aaron Dickson (54, 20-13-33, 43) — plus five more 10-plus goal players — Quintin Loon-Stewardson (53, 19-25-44, 79), former Rock winger Ryan Theriault (53, 18-26-44, 38), Kobe Desmond (45, 16-18-34, 33), Dylan D’Agostino (32, 16-16-32, 41) and Nicolas Case (50, 15-26-41, 8).

And that’s not counting the totals put up by blue-liner Dayton Murray (36, 17-21-38, 38) prior to his departure for the Temiscaming Titans, of the GMHL.

The Rock, meanwhile, did not have any 30-goal scorers during the regular season, or even any 20-goal snipers.

C.J. Bradburn (43, 17-15-32, 34) came close to cracking the 20-goal plateau and if he hadn’t missed 13 games due to injury he might well have hit that milestone.

Jordan Picard (57, 16-25-41, 54) — even with an extra game thanks to the imbalance of the French River Rapids and Timmins Rock schedules at the time of his trade — came up short, as well.

The only other Rock snipers to crack the 10-goal barrier during the regular season were forwards Derek Seguin (41, 12-16-28, 53), who missed 15 games due to injury, and Tyler Gilberds (52, 11-14-25, 65), who scored six of his goals with the Voodoos prior to being traded to the Rock.

Wayne Mathieu (48, 9-19-28, 30), Stewart Parnell (27, 9-11-20, 14) and Evan Kentish-Stack (49, 9-5-14, 24) each fell one goal short of the mark.

The Rock scored 10 goals during their East Division quarterfinal series against the Lumberjacks, with Mathieu (3, 2-3-5, 0), Kentish-Stack (3, 2-0-2, 0), defenceman Jared Hester (3, 1-1-2, 20.67) and Seguin (3, 1-1-2, 4) all making significant offensive contributions.

The Voodoos used seven goaltenders during the regular season before finally settling on the duo of Christian Cicigoi (1,640:00, 23-3-0-2, 1, 2.89, .913) and Julian Galloway(888:00, 10-3-0-1, 0, 3.04, .915).

Current Rock goalie Tyler Masternak (179:00, 2-1-0-0, 0, 3.68, .823) started the year with the Voodoos, as did Shayne Battler (120:00, 2-0-0-0, 0, 3.00, .922), now with the Cochrane Crunch.

Also seeing action the Powassan net this year were Graham Dynes (463:00, 6-0-1-0, 0, 2.98, .913) and affiliate puck stoppers Joel Rainville (30:00, 0-0-0-0, 0, 2.03, .889) and Ty Sparling (91:00, 2-0-0-0, 0, 1.33, .949).

Eric Jackson (1,766:00, 10-15-2-2, 0, 2.99, .895) was a workhorse for the Rock during the regular season, but he was bitten by the injury bug on a couple of occasions.

The addition of Masternak (1,109:00, 6-9-1-1, 2, 2.87, .907) certainly helped to take some of the pressure off Jackson.

Affiliate goalies Dylan Dallaire (50:00, 0-0-0-0, 2.42, .920) and Jordan Yaremchuk (174:00, 1-2-0-0, 0, 4.13, .871) made contributions, as well.

The play of Masternak (186:00, 2-1-0-0, 1, 1.62, .959) during the playoffs is one of the big seasons the Rock were able to get past the Lumberjacks in their East Division quarterfinal series.

Head-to-head, the Voodoos won seven of their eight encounters with the Rock, but one of those victories required double overtime and another overtime and the two teams battled to a 3-3 draw in another.

It should be noted, as well, the Rock held leads in a number of those contests they were unable to hold.

The first meeting of the two teams, at the Powassan Sportsplex on Oct. 16, saw the Rock blow 1-0 and 3-2 leads en route to a 7-3 loss.

On Nov. 17, also at the Powassan Sportsplex, the Rock never led in a game they would go on to lose 4-1.

Back at the McIntyre Arena, on Nov. 26, the Rock blew a 2-0 lead in a game they went on to lose 5-2 after surrendering four unanswered third-period goals.

Then, on Dec. 17 at the McIntyre Arena, the Rock blew 1-0 and 2-1 leads in a game they would go on to lose 3-2, surrendering a pair of unanswered third-period goals.

Perhaps the most frustrating loss for Timmins fans, however, was the 6-5 overtime loss the Rock suffered at the hands of the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena on Jan. 21.

In that contest, the Rock blew 4-0 and 5-1 leads while giving up three unanswered third-period markers.

On Feb. 16, at the Powassan Sportsplex, the Rock could not hold a 3-1 first-period lead in a game they went on to drop to the Voodoos 4-3 in double overtime.

Finally, on March 3 at the Powassan Sportsplex, the Rock surrendered a 1-0 lead in a game they would go on to loss 4-2 to the Voodoos.

It is worth noting during those head-to-head match ups, Gilmour led all Voodoos’ skaters with a pair of goals and 11 assists for 13 points.

Israels and Beaulieu were next with nine points apiece, with Israels notching a club-best eight goals.

Loon-Stewardson was close by with eight points to his credit.

Picard, with eight points — including a team-high five goals, was the Rock’s leading scorer against the Voodoos.

Bradburn was next with seven points, while Seguin and Gilberds had four each.

On paper, everything seems to point to the Voodoos sweeping the Rock in four-straight games, but this series will be played on ice and the Rock have proven they have the ability to take leads against Powassan on multiple occasions this season.

All it will take is for them to prove once that they are capable of holding a lead against the NOJHL’s regular-season champs to sow the seeds of doubt necessary for an upset special.

After being swept by the Voodoos in last season’s East Division final, the Rock would like nothing better than to gain a little revenge on Powassan in this year’s East Division semi-finals.