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Clark, Rock deep-six Crunch

Timmins Rock forward Harry Clark, shown here in action earlier in the series at the Tim Horton Event Centre, scored a pair of goals and set up four others Sunday afternoon to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 10-1 victory over the Cochrane Crunch. It was the ninth meeting of the two teams, with the two sides scheduled to conclude their 10-game set at the McIntyre Arena on Tuesday, at 8:30 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Harry Clark scored two goals and set up four others to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 10-1 win over the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre Sunday afternoon.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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The 2003-birth-year Timmins native (21, 9-11-20, 4), who is now averaging almost a point a game in his rookie NOJHL campaign had an assist in each of the first two periods before exploding in the final frame.

“Going into the third period, I was up with (Tyler) Schwindt and (Nicolas) Pigeon,” he said.

“We always play good together and on our first shift we got a goal. After that, I was like, ‘yah, it is going great.’

“All three of us are pretty hard workers and we just seem to click. I am not sure exactly what it is that makes us so effective.”

Clark agreed his four-point outburst was likely his best period of hockey, at any level.

“I wasn’t trying to focus on it too much, but I definitely knew what was happening,” he said.

“We were getting the right bounces in the third period and we were capitalizing on our chances.”

Counting his totals from Sunday afternoon, the Timmins Majors grad now has 12 points in his past five games.

“I have started getting into a groove and I am feeling a lot more comfortable,” he said.

Sunday’s victory was the eighth in nine tries for the Rock against their East Division rivals in this COVID-19-shortened season, with one more contest remaining between the two sides Tuesday night in Timmins.

Early on, the contest looked like anything but a blowout, however, and the Rock emerged from an evenly played first period nursing only a 1-0 lead.

The Rock enjoyed a 14-11 shots on goal advantage, but Graeme McCrory’s third goal of the season was the lone scoring play in the opening 20 minutes.

Three unanswered second-period goals allowed the Rock to open up a 4-0 advantage.

Blue-liner Evan Beaudry got the puck rolling when he netted his third goal of the season at the 3:38 mark.

Captain Derek Seguin then followed with a pair of goals, his 21st and 22nd of the season, with the first coming on the power-play.

Three goals in the span of two-and-a-half minutes to start the third period allowed the Rock to open up a 7-0 lead.

Tyler Schwindt found the back of the net with his 13th goal of the season at the 2:40 mark.

Zach Smith then added his seventh goal of the season 1:36 later and Tyler Gilberds followed with his eighth goal of the season at the 5:17 mark.

By that point the only question remaining to be answered was whether or not Rock goalie Tyler Masternak would add to his NOJHL-best 17 career shutouts.

That would not be the case, however, as the Crunch finally got on the scoreboard at the 6:24 mark when Sebastien Ouimet struck for his 11th goal of the season.

Clark, who to that point had accumulated three assists, added a pair of goals, his eighth and ninth of the season, just over three minutes apart to increase the Rock advantage to eight goals.

Having hit the nine goal mark three times earlier in the series, the Rock made it to double figures Sunday afternoon when blue-liner Eric Moreau added his fifth goal of the season to make the final score 10-1 in favour of the Rock.

Rock assistant coach James Daschuk admitted his squad got off to a bit of a slow start Sunday afternoon.

“Considering the start we had, we definitely didn’t think it was going to turn out to be a game like this,” he said.

“We were flat, we were sloppy, we couldn’t control the puck, we were making weird decisions. It was very out of character for us.

“I would even go so far as to say they had us on our heels a little bit even though we had the 1-0 lead.”

The assistant coach agreed Masternak make some big saves to keep the Rock in the game before they were able to kick their offence into high gear.

“That was certainly the topic of discussion in the coaches’ room after the first period,” Daschuk said.

“We were very thankful to have him back there because the guys sometimes need their goalie to make a few big saves. It allowed us to relax a bit and calm down, get our feet underneath us.”

A sign of a well-balanced attack, only three Rock skaters were held off the scoresheet Sunday afternoon.

“That is what makes us such a great hockey team,” Daschuk said.

“If you look back to Game 5, they held our big line off the scoresheet and we beat them 9-1. Our secondary scoring is phenomenal. It is not even secondary scoring, because our guys can all score.

“A sign of any great team is its depth. Top to bottom, our 12 forwards today were phenomenal. You might shut one line down, or even two but we just keep coming in waves.”

Clark is one of those guys who is normally considered a secondary scorer, but given his statistics in the past five games that might not be the case for much longer.

“The guys are lining up to play with him right now,” Daschuk said.

“He played with Pige (Pigeon) and Schwinny (Schwindt) out there today and it was easy for those guys. They were having fun and their puck possession was phenomenal.

“They were just playing the game the right way, too, nothing individual. That line, as a whole, played fantastic hockey.”

Even the Rock blue-liners got into the act Sunday afternoon with Beaudry and Moreau each finding the back of the net.

“Those guys are fantastic,” Daschuk said.

“They play on our power play and Ricky (Moreau) is our go-to-guy on the PK (penalty kill). The offensive game Beauds has found and the leadership of those guys. They have both taken steps again this year. Those guys are logging a lot of minutes for us.”

Two other blue-liners who caught their assistant coach’s eye Sunday afternoon were Lucas Branch and Bode Dunford, who each had a pair of assists.

“Lucas and his partner (Cole Williamson) had probably there best games of the series,” Daschuk said.

“It is hard to get recognized if you are not putting up points but certainly those two guys were appreciated on the PK today. Even when the scoresheet doesn’t show their name, they efforts are appreciated by the guys in the room and the coaching staff.

“Dunner (Dunford), who is getting the chance to play with Beauds on the back end, probably played one of his best games.”

While he was denied another shutout, Masternak stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced to earn his NOJHL-leading 12th win of the season.

Crunch goalie Michael Nickolau, who turned aside 49 of the 59 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars were Clark, Beaudry and Moreau … The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-4 with the man advantage … Rock forward Pierre Racicot was held off the scoreboard in his first NOJHL contest … Sunday’s only other contest saw Thunderbirds get past the Blind River Beavers 7-5 in a West Division battle in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock and the Crunch will conclude their 10-game set at the McIntyre Arena on Tuesday, at 8:30 p.m.