VIDEO / GALLERY: GAME 4 – Rock sweep away Voodoos

Rock goalie Patrick Boivin and Powassan Voodoos forward Tucker Shields follow the path of the puck in the Timmins zone during Game 4 of the NOJHL’s East Division final at the Powassan Sportsplex Tuesday night. The Rock went on to defeat the Voodoos 5-3 and win the best-of-seven series 4-0. They will now play the winner of the West Division final, which currently has the Soo Thunderbirds up on the Greater Sudbury Cubs 3-1. NOJHL NETWORK

A 5-3 win over the Voodoos at the Sportsplex Tuesday night punched the Timmins Rock’s ticket to the NOJHL finals against either the Soo Thunderbirds or the Greater Sudbury Cubs.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

POWASSAN — A 5-3 win over the Voodoos at the Sportsplex Tuesday night punched the Timmins Rock’s ticket to the NOJHL finals against either the Soo Thunderbirds or the Greater Sudbury Cubs.

It gave the Rock a 4-0 sweep of their best-of-seven East Division final against a determined Voodoos squad that seemed to play with more desperation as the series progressed.

“It was a good win,” said Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry.

“It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty but we got the job done.

“Powassan played really well tonight, really hard. It was a physical game and their goaltender (Daniel Dirracolo) did a really good job.

“We weren’t at our best. Some of that was because of them and some of that was because of us, but they played a great game.

“I have a ton of respect for that team over there. They are a great hockey team and they are well-coached.

“The reason we played so hard is because we respect them a lot. It was a hell of a series.”

Trailing 3-2 heading into the third period Tuesday night, the Rock scored three unanswered goals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Lucas Lowe’s fifth goal of the playoffs, 5:31 into the frame, got the Rock back on even terms.

Ethan Pool’s power-play marker, his fourth goal of the playoffs, with five-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation then snapped the deadlock.

Pool, who missed the final six games of the regular season and all five of the Rock’s Round 1 series against the French River Rapids, returned to score a goal in all four contests in the East Division final against the Voodoos.

Nolan Ring then provided the Rock with a little insurance when he deposited his fourth goal of the playoffs into an empty Voodoos’ net with Dirracolo on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.

The hard-fought contest saw the Rock draw first blood, with Harry Clark scoring his second goal of the playoffs as the Rock outshot the Voodoos 16-10 in the first period.

In the middle frame, the Voodoos amped up their intensity to erase that one-goal deficit and twice take the lead while outshooting the Rock 16-10.

Rhys Smetham’s power-play marker, his fourth goal of the playoffs, tied things up at 1-1, 6:40 into the period.

Michael MacLean then gave the Voodoos their first lead of the night at the 11:48 mark when he netted his second goal of the playoffs.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as it took the Rock just over a minute to get back on even terms, with Nicholas Frederick notching a power-play marker, his fourth goal of the playoffs.

But Nicholas Liotino’s second goal of the playoffs, with just 39 seconds remaining on the clock restored the Voodoos one-goal advantage heading into the second intermission.

“We just took some bad penalties in that period and the puck ended up in the back of our net.

“The second goal they scored wasn’t a power-play goal, but they had been on the power play and just as the time expired our guy couldn’t even make it back into our zone before the puck was in the back of our net.”

MacLean’s tally came just nine seconds after Clark exited the penalty box.

“The PK (penalty kill) had been doing a good job and Patty (Rock goalie Patrick Boivin) was standing on his head,” Perry said.

Liotino’s goal could have potentially provided an even bigger momentum swing if the Rock had not been able to successfully shake off any lingering effects.

“Obviously, any time you get scored on in the last minute of a period it is a little disheartening, but we have got a resilient bunch,” Perry said.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and they weren’t going to lay down for us.

“We trailed in a couple of the games in this series, so it wasn’t anything new. We knew we just had to get the next one.”

That set the stage for the Rock’s third-period rally that advanced them to the NOJHL finals, while ending the Voodoos season.

“We had Lowesy (Lowe), Grigs (Evan Grigor) and Ryno (Hayden Rynard) out there, had a great face-off play and Lowesy tipped one up and over the blocker,” Perry said.

“It was a beautiful goal and such a needed goal at the time, but the guys who scored it made it even better, because they didn’t have a lot of minutes because it was a special teams game.

“So, for them to go out there and get us back in the game like that was pretty incredible. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys.”

Lowe had just nine goals in 51 regular season games, but he now has five tallies in nine playoff contests.

“He is a warrior,” Perry said.

“He just plays so hard. He is gritty, but he has some skill to go along with his grit.

“He is built for playoff hockey.”

The coach was also happy to see the speedy Pool continue his goal-scoring streak Tuesday night.

“He has been absolutely fantastic,” Perry said.

“It is so nice to have him back because he gives us so much depth. He has been playing great.”

The Rock’s balanced attack also saw Ring and Frederick net their fourth goals of the playoffs Tuesday night.

“Those two guys are so good and they play a lot together,” Perry said.

“They work so hard and they are so crafty. Nobody outworks Nic Frederick, nobody. He wins the race for every puck and when you do those kinds of things you are going to score goals.

“He goes to the front of the net and that’s how he got his power-play goal tonight.

“Then, you have a guy like Ringer who works equally hard. He is slippery and he has got this great hockey IQ, great skill to go along with it.

“They are a scary duo, for sure.

“You put Lucas Piekarczyk with them and man that was a hard line for Powassan to try and contain all series.”

Clark, who missed most of the regular season and playoffs while honouring his university commitments, also scored in his second-straight contest Tuesday night.

“He barely practiced, barely played all season and he came in and played like that,” Perry said.

“He is an incredible kid, an unbelievable talent. I have never seen anybody do things the way he does them.

“If we would have had him all year I think he would have been up there with (Rock captain Nicolas) Pigeon and (Brady) Harroun in MVP talks.”

The coach felt Tuesday’s victory was a “team victory,” with everybody contributing in one form or another.

“They were all so good and they all competed so hard,” Perry said.

“They are tired, they are beat up, they are sore, but I am super proud of this group.”

With the Thunderbirds leading the West Division final 3-1, Perry has no preference as to which team the Rock will meet in the NOJHL final.

“It doesn’t matter to us,” he said.

“Whoever it is, we will be ready.”

Boivin stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced to earn his fourth win of the playoffs for the Rock.

Dirracolo, who turned aside 29 of the 33 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Pool, Rock blue-liner Felix Cadieux-Fredette (one assist) and Voodoos forward Chase Strychaluk (two assists) … The Rock went 2-8 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 1-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 182 … While it remains to be seen whether the Rock will face the Thunderbirds or the Cubs in the NOJHL finals, the best-of-seven series will run from April 20 to May 2, if it goes the distance.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel