VIDEO / GALLERY: Charette’s late goal lifts Rock to victory over Gold Miners

Timmins Rock goalie Patrick Boivin gets his left pad in front of a wrap-around attempt off the stick of Kirkland Lake Gold Miners forward Benjamin Armatage during the second period of Tuesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Boivin stopped all 16 shots he faced to record his NOJHL-leading sixth shutout of the season as the Rock blanked the Gold Miners 1-0. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Justin Charette converted a cross-crease pass from Nicolas Pigeon with 4:17 remaining in regulation to lift the Timmins Rock to a 1-0 victory over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – Justin Charette converted a cross-crease pass from Nicolas Pigeon with 4:17 remaining in regulation to lift the Timmins Rock to a 1-0 victory over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night.

It was the only blemish on an otherwise stellar goaltending performance by Gold Miners goalie Ethan Barron who turned in a 51-save effort that almost allowed the visitors to upset the NOJHL East Division-leading Rock for the first time in 2022-23.

And given the Gold Miners are in a desperate fight with the French River Rapids and Cochrane Crunch for the final playoff berth in the division, the two points would certainly have come in handy.

Instead, the Rock secured their 11th-straight win and improved to 12-0-0 against the Gold Miners this season — with eight of those victories coming by way of shutouts.

And heading into a tough road game in Powassan on Saturday, the Rock (37-6-3-2) now boast a 13 point lead on the Lumberjacks (32-11-2-0) atop the East Division standings — although Hearst has three games in hand.

Rock goalie Patrick Boivin was nowhere near as busy as Barron, but he stopped everything the Gold Miners fired his way to record his NOJHL-leading sixth shutout of the season and the 11th for the Rock as a team.

It was the victory, not the shutout, which put the biggest smile on the goalie’s face.

“The W means everything, 1-0 or 12-1, it doesn’t matter,” Boivin said.

“The shutout doesn’t mean anything, if we don’t win.”

In Junior ‘A’ hockey, 1-0 games are pretty rare.

“Cochrane, I guess, when the other goalie (Jake Dubinsky) made 73 saves (during a Rock 2-1 shootout win),” Boivin said when asked the last time he had been involved in a similar game.

“Tonight felt really great, but the other goalie (Barron) played a spectacular game.”

Boivin admitted watching Barron at the other end of the rink he was wondering if the Rock were ever going to get one past him.

“It didn’t look like it was coming,” he said.

“We finally got one at the end and we were very happy to have it.”

While Boivin’s six shutouts give him the NOJHL lead, his creasemate, Jacob Brown, is tied for second with five whitewashes.

“Brownie has been great all year,” he said.

“We just want to keep things going down the stretch and into the playoffs.”

Barron noted he was seeing the puck clearly during Tuesday night’s contest.

“Before the game, I was throwing balls against the wall and I try to formulate my game around my vision,” he said.

“That’s definitely what I was focused on tonight.”

The goalie was quick to give credit to his teammates for how well they played in front of him.

“Our coach (Richard Schoeneich) is always hard on our guys to make sure they keep the puck to the outside and that makes it a lot easier for me,” Barron said.

“Today, they really executed it well and I am really proud of them for that.”

The goalie really didn’t have much chance on the play in which the Rock finally got one past him, with Pigeon holding the puck until the last second before slipping it over to Charette, who buried his 14th goal of the season.

“It was a nice shot, so I really can’t be mad about that one,” Barron said.

Trailing the Rapids by five points and the Crunch by three points, the Gold Miners need every point they can get, but while they were unable to pick any up in Timmins the goalie confident the way they played will give them a big boost.

“I would say our team is at our highest right now,” Barron said.

“We need to have the same effort we had tonight, battle hard and start putting pucks in nets things are going to start going our way and we are going to win some games here.

“This is the best game I have played in this league this season and I am hoping I can replicate it.”

Despite the loss, the Gold Miners coach was pleased with the effort he saw from his players Tuesday night.

“We played well defensively, sure we gave some scoring chances to Timmins, but they are such a good team,” Schoeneich said.

“We just tried to work and compete, get better each game.”

Given the Gold Miners’ difficulty putting the puck in the net this season, the game plan Tuesday night was to try and shut the Rock attack down and keep things close.

“We wanted to play well defensively and as soon as we had a chance put pucks on net and go and crash the net,” Schoeneich said.

The coach acknowledged he could ask much more of his goaltender than Barron delivered Tuesday night.

“Ethan was amazing,” Schoeneich said.

“He gave us a chance to win this game. He did a very good job.”

Other than his goaltender, the coach indicated he couldn’t name any other individuals who stood out because he was pleased with all of them.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was happy to see his team pick up the two points, but noted they weren’t at their sharpest in some aspects of the game.

“I was wondering if this was going to be the night where we drop one, but we got through it,” he said.

“I think it was just a little mental for us tonight. Our D to D passes were just rolling and soft.

“Our execution on things, missing pucks on two-on-ones, not hungry in the blue paint, maybe we just thought it was going to be easier than we thought it was going to be.

“It wasn’t an effort thing. For the most part, we consciously worked hard and put effort forth. I just think it was little things, missing pucks, missing picks and missing reads, not hitting where we wanted to on entries.

“That being said, give them a ton of credit, they played hard and their goalie played fantastic.

“Patty (Boivin) had to make some big saves.”

Even though the Rock currently have a 13-point lead in their division, the coach noted they have some big games coming up against tough opposition down the stretch.

“Every single point is so important this time of year,” Perry said.

“We just have to be a little bit better. We have some really good teams to play in the next two weeks, starting with a big road test Saturday in Powassan.

“They have been playing fantastic, so we have some work to do.

“We want to secure home ice throughout the playoffs. That’s our goal right now.”

The coach didn’t think any of his skaters were overly impressive Tuesday night, but he did single out a few key contributors.

“I thought Justin Charette had a good game,” Perry said.

“He probably could have had three goals. Nolan Ring was competing, but just fighting it a bit tonight.

“Kyle Trottier was battling all night. Nicholas Frederick was working all night. Nicolas Pigeon is always going.”

The Rock lost forward Ethan Pool during the first period due to a recurring lower-body injury.

And forward Lucas Piekarczyk served the first game of his four-game suspension for the butt-ending infraction he picked up at the end of Saturday night’s contest in Cochrane.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Charette, Barron and Boivin … The Rock went 0-4 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 641 … The Rock will take on the Voodoos in Powassan on Saturday, at 7 p.m., while the Gold Miners will return to action on Friday when they take on the Lumberjacks in Hearst, at 7 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel