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GALLERY: Boivin backstops Rock to one-sided win over Crunch

Timmins Rock goalie Patrick Boivin makes a save on a shot off the stick of Cochrane Crunch forward Cooper Moore during the second period of Wednesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Boivin stopped all 23 shots he faced to backstop the Rock to a 9-0 win over the Crunch. The two sides will face-off in the second half of their home-and-home series at the Tim Horton Event Centre on Friday, at 7 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Patrick Boivin turned aside all 23 shots he faced to backstop the Timmins Rock to a 9-0 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – Patrick Boivin turned aside all 23 shots he faced to backstop the Timmins Rock to a 9-0 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday night.

The victory, their fourth-straight, allowed the Rock (30-6-3-2) to increase their lead on the Lumberjacks (28-9-2-0) atop the NOJHL’s East Division standings to seven points, although Hearst has a pair of games in hand.

It was the seventh-straight win for the Rock against the Crunch during the 2022-23 campaign and the 15th-straight dating back to the start of last season.

Despite the one-sided final score, it took the Rock almost half a period to get on the scoreboard, with blue-liner Brandon Rossetti netting a power-play marker for his fifth goal of the season.

That goal would stand up to be the game-winner, although the Rock added plenty of insurance to back it up.

Brady Harroun notched his team-leading 29th goal of the season just over a minute later and Justin Charette added his ninth goal of the season before the end of the frame.

Five unanswered second-period goals allowed the Rock to break things wide open.

Ethan Pool scored the first of his two goals on the night and fifth of the season 5:17 into the frame.

Captain Nicolas Pigeon was then “officially” credited with a natural hat-trick, with the three-straight goals coming four minutes apart, but he acknowledged after the contest that one of those markers was actually scored by Hayden Rynard, No. 44 not No. 24.

Regardless, Pool added his second goal of the game and sixth of the season to send the Rock to the dressing room sporting an 8-0 lead.

The Crunch made a goaltending change to start the third period, with Jake Dubinsky coming on in relief of Marcus Ouellet.

It took Nolan Ring just 1:20 to greet the new goalie with his 13th goal of the season but Dubinsky was able to shut the door the rest of the way.

Pigeon, who leads the NOJHL in scoring with 67 points, is known as a pass-first forward, as his 51 assists would attest, but it seemed like everything he was shooting in the second period was going in the net.

“I have some great teammates and I was fortunate to get some lucky bounces,” he said.

“I scored two goals, the other one was Rynard’s. He had a hell of a night and I think he should have scored five or six.”

If the NOJHL corrects the scoring play, Rynard will have three goals on the season.

The Rock captain wasn’t surprised to see his teammates turn in such a strong effort Wednesday night.

“The boys have been practicing hard,” Pigeon said.

“This entire season, I don’t think there is another team that practices as hard as we do, on and off the ice, and I think we are seeing the results of all that training.

“In that second period our execution was perfect. The Ds were switching with the forwards and we had good movement.”

Pigeon noted he and his teammates are as proud of the shutout recorded by Boivin as they are the nine goals they were able to put up on the scoreboard Wednesday night.

“That was important, Patty is a brother and if we can help him (get the shutout) for sure we are going to do it,” he said.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was pleased with what he saw from his squad Wednesday night.

“It was a good effort, from start to finish,” he said.

“Obviously games like this are tough. You can get a little complacent, get a little selfish, but I thought for the most part our guys did a pretty good job.

“We worked really hard, down low, they were playing up high on our D, almost playing man-on-man in their zone, so it was just one-on-one hockey everywhere.”

The coach was once again impressed with the play of his captain.

“He is an exceptional player,” Perry said.

“He has high-end skill and it was nice to see him get rewarded tonight. He is not known for his goal-scoring ability. He has a pass-first mentality.

“He is our heartbeat. He is our soul, the leader of our ship.

“He takes a beating every single night and draws every tough matchup, plays against the best D every night.”

Pool, who is finally healthy, has three goals and six points in his past three games.

“You see how dynamic he is now that he is healthy,” Perry said.

“It seems like all season he had been battling something, whether it was his ankle or missing time due to a concussion.

“When he is healthy he is one of the most dynamic players in this league, based on speed. He has one of the best assets you can have as a player in today’s game.

“He has straight-up blinding speed and I have not seen too many players who can skate the way he does.”

The coach was also happy to see Boivin record his fourth shutout of the season and the team’s ninth.

“That’s the biggest thing in games like tonight,” Perry said.

“You always have to play for something more than yourself. You want to keep that team GAA (goals against average) low for both of your goalies, so they can get that award at the end of the year.”

There was no shortage of other Rock players who caught their coach’s eye, as well.

“Up and down our lineup, I thought everybody played well,” Perry said.

“Christophe Petit had a really good game, Lucas Lowe with has tenacity and feistiness.

“Juice (Charette) is a coach’s dream in terms of doing everything right and being a super smart player. He plays a big role on our team, especially on the penalty kill.

“It was nice to see him pot a goal because he has been battling some injuries.”

Perry realizes the Rock will likely see a much more determined Crunch team when they travel to Cochrane for the second half of their home-and-home series on Friday.

“I think it is just human nature, competitiveness and pride,” he said.

“You get beat like that and then you play the same team again you always come out and have a better effort.”

The Rock beat the Crunch 9-0 on home ice Nov. 29, but had to battle tooth and nail to earn a 4-1 win in the rematch in Cochrane on Dec. 2.

In addition to posting his fourth shutout of the season, Boivin’s 23-save performance earned him his NOJHL-leading 19th win of the season.

Ouellet, who stopped 27 of the 35 shots the Rock directed his way during his 40 minutes of work, was tagged with the loss. Dubinsky
turned aside 12 of the 13 shots he faced during his 20 minutes of relief.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Pigeon, Pool and Boivin … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 510 … Wednesday’s only other contest, between the French River Rapids and the Eagles in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was postponed due to an arena issue … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they will travel to Cochrane for a rematch with the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre, at 7 p.m. The next home game will be on Tuesday, Feb. 14, when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m.