GALLERY: Svarich’s four-goal effort helps power Rock past Storm

Rock forward Jack Kelly accepts congratulations from his teammates as he makes a pass in front of the Timmins bench after scoring his sixth goal of the season during the second period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Kelly’s goal stood up to be the game-winner as the Rock went on to defeat the Iroquois Falls Storm 8-2 in the first half of the home-and-home weekend series. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Mason Svarich scored four goals and set up another to help lead the Timmins Rock to an 8-2 win over the Iroquois Falls Storm in the first half of a weekend home-and-home series at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

It was also a preview of a likely NOJHL East Division semifinal matchup between the first-place Rock and the fourth-place Storm.

Early on, the contest was a lot closer than the final score might indicate.

Svarich’s 34th goal of the season gave the Rock a 1-0 lead at the 15:25 mark of the opening period.

But Landon Trethewey’s unassisted marker, his fourth goal of the season, with just 8.22 seconds remaining on the clock, allowed the Storm to escape the frame on even terms.

A Svarich power-play marker, his 35th goal of the season, put the Rock back in front early in the second period.

Once again, the Storm battled back to tie things up, however, as Krisjanis Fugalis was credited with an unassisted marker, his fourth goal of the campaign, on a play that appeared to see Rock goalie Patrick Boivin accidentally knock the puck into his own net.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, Jack Kelly netted what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his sixth tally of the season.

Brant Romaniuk added his 20th goal of the season just past the midway mark in the period, with Svarich earning an assist on the play.

Four unanswered third-period goals allowed the Rock to break the contest wide open.

Hayden Rynard got the puck rolling when he netted his 12th goal of the season three-and-a-half minutes into the frame.

Svarich then completed his hat-trick when he netted his 36th goal of the season and followed that up two-and-a-half minutes later with a power-play marker, his 37th tally of the campaign.

Liam Wells then closed out the scoring when he netted his 28th goal of the season in his first game back in the lineup after missing a month of action while on the injured list.

Svarich notched a pair of hat-tricks earlier this season, but he can’t recall ever netting four goals in a game before Friday night.

“This was probably a first for me tonight,” he said, noting even as far back as Novice he was unable to match the accomplishment.

“After that first one went in, I had a good feeling,” Svarich said.

“The boys did a good job of finding me out there and I probably could have had a few more but I think we did a good job of finishing things off in the third period.”

The Rock have now won all nine encounters with the Storm this season, but Svarich knew the importance of not letting Iroquois Falls gain any momentum or confidence from Friday night’s contest.

“We really just wanted to come out and assert our dominance,” he said.

“I don’t think we did a good job of that early on, but towards the end of the game we did a much better job.”

Special teams usually play an important role in the outcome of any playoff series, so Svarich understands the importance of the Rock staying out of the penalty box and capitalizing on man advantage opportunities when they arise.

“I thought our (penalty) killers did a good job tonight and our power play has been clicking all year long,” he said.

“We have built some really good chemistry with the guys we put out there and even when we have guys rolling through it has been effective. Getting Wells back was huge because he has such a strong net-front presence.”

Svarich normally plays on the Rock’s top line, but on the power play, he mans one of the two point positions.

“I am usually just trying to get pucks through to the net,” he said.

“Wells does a good job of getting in front of the goalie and if the puck finds its way through, there is a pretty good chance it is going to go in.”

Boivin stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced to earn his 20th win of the season.

Storm goalie Brodie Haylock, who turned aside 30 of the 38 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Svarich, Rock blue-liner Tenzin Nyman (two assists) and Wells … The Rock went 2-6 on the power play, while the Storm were 0-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 1,070 … Friday’s other action saw the Hearst Lumberjacks knock off the Beavers 6-2 in Blind River, the Voodoos dump the French River Rapids 5-2 in Powassan, the Eagles edge the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-3 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and the Greater Sudbury Cubs thump the Elliot Lake Vikings 9-3 in Massey … The Rock will take on the Storm at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls on Saturday, at 7 p.m. The next home game will see the Rock host the Soo Thunderbirds at the McIntyre Arena on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.