Photos: Turnbull’s Northern Photography
IROQUOIS FALLS — Harry Clark scored five goals to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 7-5 win over the Storm at the Jus Jordan Arena and a sweep of their weekend home-and-home series.
Friday night, the Rock rallied to defeat the Storm 3-2 at the McIntyre Arena.
Mason Svarich, normally the trigger man on the Rock’s top line, set up four of Clark’s goals and one scored by the third member of the unit, Liam Wells.
“I don’t think so,” Clark said, when asked if he has ever scored five goals in a game before, even in minor hockey.
“This is definitely a first. I would say after the third goal I had a hunch this could be a pretty special night. There was still some time left in the game.
“We just got a few power plays and capitalized on our chances.”
Earlier in the season, Clark struggled to find the back of the net even though he was collecting assists at an impressive rate. He had just one goal in his first seven games and two in his initial 11 contests. And after scoring five goals in three games, he didn’t have any in the four games leading up to Saturday night.
“I owe a lot of credit to guys giving me the puck and finding me in the spots,” he said. “It was nice to change things around for once.”
The combination of Clark and Svarich, has Rock fans reminiscing about the 2022-23 combination of Nicolas Pigeon and Brady Haroun.
“It is awesome having him (Svarich) on the line,” he said.
“He has a great shot, but he also looks to pass it here and there, so it’s really nice to have him out there with me.”
Normally, the third member of the Rock’s top line is Nolan Ring, but an upper-body injury kept him out of action Saturday night and Wells was called upon to take his spot.
“It was some big shoes to fill, but I think Liam did a wonderful job,” Clark said.
Only Lucas Signoretti (51), of the Espanola Paper Kings, has more points than Clark (48) this season.
Just like Friday night, the Rock had to dig themselves out of a 2-0 hole before their top line kick started the offence.
A Lucas Peever shorthanded marker, his fourth goal of the season, got the Storm on the scoreboard first, 1:54 into the contest.
Max Jugnauth’s fifth goal of the season then doubled the home side’s advantage.
Clark then struck for the first two of his five goals, his 11th and 12th of the season, with the second marker coming on the power play, to tie things up at 2-2.
Wells then added his 15th goal of the season just over a minute later to put the Rock in front 3-2.
Clark then completed his hat-trick when he scored his 13th goal of the season with 1:17 remaining in the opening period to send the Rock to the dressing room sporting a 4-2 advantage.
It briefly appeared the Rock had added a fifth goal before time had expired, but it was ruled the puck had entered the net after the buzzer had sounded.
The Storm were able to cut into the Rock lead at the 12:39 mark of the middle frame, thanks to Mathieu Roy’s power-play marker, his second goal of the season.
Three minutes later, Clark answered with a power-play marker for the Rock, his fourth goal of the game and 14th tally of the season.
That gave the Rock a 5-3 lead heading to the second intermission.
Kaeden McArthur added his 13th goal of the season 6:36 into the third period to increase the Rock advantage.
The Storm battled back to make it a one-goal hockey game, however, with Jugnauth and Peever each adding their second markers of the game.
Then, in the final minutes of the contest, they pulled goalie Connor Hatfield in favour of an extra attacker, but the move backfired when Clark deposited his fifth goal of the game and 15th of the season into the empty Storm net with four seconds remaining in regulation.
With the win, the Rock (15-8-2-0) moved into a tie with the Powassan Voodoos (15-8-0-2) atop the East Division standings.
Meanwhile, the Storm (7-20-0-1) sit in fifth place, one point behind the Gold Miners (6-14-3-1) and Kirkland Lake has four games in hand.
While Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was happy to see his squad sweep the home-and-home series, he knows they could have played much better in both games.
“I don’t even know how to describe the last two games,” he said.
“There were some good moments for us, obviously, but some really bad moments, as well.”
The coach was happy to see the offence supplied by the Clark-Svarich combination.
“Harry just kind of took the game over,” Perry said.
“He is an exceptional player and we needed him and he stepped up.
“(With Mason’s five assists), you would think that would be the other way around but that line really got us going.”
The coach was also impressed with the effort he saw from another Rock player, as well.
“I thought Ryan Armitage was our best player,” Perry said.
“He played hard all night, was physical, hard on pucks, got a lot of scoring chances.”
Armitage was held off the scoresheet, but got in a third-period scrap with Roy, one of the biggest players on the Storm roster. Both players received five-minute fighting majors and game misconducts, while Armitage also assessed a two-minute high sticking penalty.
While the Rock had a full week off to practice prior to the home-and-home series, they were missing six players who were part of the NOJHL East squad that took part in the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge.
“It was a weird week of practice, not having those six guys there, but no excuses, we just weren’t sharp,” Perry said.
“We are super happy with the four points, obviously. There were some really good moments in the two games. Dryden Riley was fantastic Friday night.”
Rock goalie Patrick Boivin stopped 25 of the 30 shots he faced to earn his eighth win of the season.
Hatfield, who turned aside 53 of the 59 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of Saturday’s contest were Clark, Peever and Svarich … The Rock went 2-8 on the power play Saturday, while the Storm were 1-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday was 656 … Saturday’s other action saw the Lumberjacks dump the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-1 in Hearst, the Greater Sudbury Cubs thump the Rapids 9-2 in French River and the Beavers best the Soo Eagles 5-1 in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they will host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel