GALLERY: GAME 2 – Rock blank Rapids, grab 2-0 lead in East semifinal

Timmins Rock goalie Jacob Brown works to control the rebound of a shot as referee Derik Gratton and blue-liner Kyle Trottier look on during the second period of Game 2 of the NOJHL East Division semifinal series at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night. Brown stopped all 19 shots he faced as the Rock went on to blank the Rapids 7-0 and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series, with Game 3 set for the Noelville Arena on Monday, at 7 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Jacob Brown stopped all 19 shots he faced to earn his first career NOJHL playoff shutout as the Timmins Rock blanked the French River Rapids 7-0 at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – Jacob Brown stopped all 19 shots he faced to earn his first career NOJHL playoff shutout as the Timmins Rock blanked the French River Rapids 7-0 at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night.

The 16 year old goalie, who posted an NOJHL-best seven shutouts during the regular season, admitted to feeling some nerves throughout the contest.

“Honest, it just felt good to get in there and get rid of the playoff nerves since it was my first ever playoff game in Junior ‘A’ hockey,” he said.

“It was good to get in there and kind of get it out of the way.”

So, just when did the nerves go away for Brown and at what point did he settle into it just being another game, like any other?

“With me, the nerves never really go away,” he said.

“I think honestly my nerves were the worst between the second and third period because I had fewer goals against (than creasemate Patrick Boivin allowed Friday night) and I wanted to keep that, but at the end of the day it is all about the win.”

Brown appreciated the shot-blocking efforts of the blue-liners playing in front of him, as well as many of the team’s forwards.

“I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate our defencemen,” he said.

“Kyle Trottier probably made more saves than I did and Freddy (Felix Cadieux-Fredette) made a couple of huge blocks and Beardo (Thomas Beard) made a couple of nice ones up front, too.

“It was a great, all-around effort from everybody.”

Saturday night’s victory gave the Rock a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven East Division semifinal series after they opened with an 8-2 triumph on home ice Friday night.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was a lot happier with the way his squad started Saturday night’s contest, but still felt something wasn’t quite right.

“Little bit (better),” he said.

“I don’t know, something is still off a little bit. It just wasn’t as clean as it should have been, but I thought we got better as the game went on.

“I think if it was one thing tonight, it was D Zone. I wasn’t extremely happy with the way we played in our own end, but it is another win. That’s two and we have 10 more to go.”

Lucas Lowe’s first goal of the playoffs at the 10:52 mark of the opening period stood up to be the game-winning tally.

Brady Harroun added the first of his two goals on the night and third of the post season four minutes later to send the Rock to the dressing room for the first intermission up 2-0.

The Rapids opted to make a goaltending switch to start the second period, with Ben Gustafson coming on in relief of Matthew Perdue.

The Rock added three unanswered markers in the middle frame to increase their advantage, even though they only outshot the Rapids 12-11 in the period.

Harroun netted his second goal of the game and fourth of the playoffs at the 7:46 mark.

Beard followed with his first of two goals on the night and the playoffs six minutes later.

And captain Nicolas Pigeon converted on a power-play opportunity for his first goal of the playoffs with just over a minute remaining in the period.

Special teams once again came up big for the Rock early in the third period, with Beard netting a shorthanded marker, his second goal of the night and playoffs.

Blue-liner Christophe Petit, better known for his work in the defensive zone, then closed out the scoring when he netted his first goal of the playoffs 10 minutes later.

The Rock coach was pleased with the play of his young goalie Saturday night.

“He was really good, really solid in there and I was super happy for him,” Perry said.

“He is 16 years old and making his first playoff start in front of a crowd like this you would expect some nerves, but not with him.”

The Brown, the coach was pleased with the shot-blocking display put on by his defenders.

“What a game by Chris (Petit) tonight and Trotts (Trottier) is just a model of consistency,” Perry said.

“The effort is always the same, he is always battling and blocking shots. Everything he does is for the team. He does nothing for himself and you win with guys like that.

“Both of those guys were fantastic again tonight.”

After getting a goal from an affiliate play in Friday night’s contest, the Rock got a pair from a player who is technically an affiliate on Saturday.

“I don’t consider Thomas (Beard) to be an affiliate,” Perry said.

“He has been a part of our team all season long and I was super happy for him.

“I can imagine how tough his year was, especially getting the unwelcome news he was going back to U18, but he came in these last two games and even when we called him up earlier, he has been fantastic.

“Friday night, he played a really good game, as good as I have seen him play all season and tonight he was obviously solid again and got rewarded with two goals.

“It was a big night for him, a special night.”

There was no shortage of other Rock players who made a positive impression in the contest, as well.

“Up and down the lineup, take your pick, I thought everybody was good,” Perry said.

“Justin Charette, even though he was a little snake-bitten, was really good and Kenny (Kenyon Nyman) and Tee (Tenzin) Nyman were really sharp back there (on the blue-line).

“Individually, I liked our effort. As a unit, I just thought we could have been a little cleaner.

“I am super happy for the guys to get two wins at home, now let’s go close this thing out on the road.”

Given the number of injuries the Rock have been dealing with, finishing off the Rapids quickly and getting a chance to rest and get healthy would be a blessing.

They lost affiliate player Ryan Armitage to an upper-body injury during Saturday night’s contest and he joins a lengthy list of players currently out of the lineup.

That list includes forwards Lucas Piekarczyk, Kaeden McArthur, Ethan Pool and Yan Bessette, all of whom are currently listed as day-to-day.

The Rock will get a boost for Game 3, however, with the return of Liam Wells after he sat out the 10th game of his 10-game suspension Saturday night.

“He is built for playoff hockey,” Perry said.

Brown’s 19-save shutout also earned him his first win of the playoffs.

Perdue, who blocked 12 of the 14 shots the Rock directed his way in his 20 minutes of work, was tagged with the loss.

Gustafson turned aside 22 of the 27 shots he faced in his 40 minutes of relief.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Brown, Petit and Beard … The Rock went 1-7 on the power play and for the second-straight game scored a shorthanded goal, while the Rapids were 0-2 win the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 805 … Saturday night’s other action saw the Powassan Voodoos double up the Lumberjacks 8-4 in Hearst to take a 1-0 lead in that best-of-seven East Division semifinal, while the Soo Thunderbirds held on to edge the Beavers 5-4 in Blind River to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven West Division semifinal series … The Rock will travel to French River for Game 3 of their East Division semifinal series at the Noelville Arena on Monday, at 7 p.m.