VIDEO / GALLERY: GAME 1 – Boivin records shutout, two assists

Timmins Rock goalie Patrick Boivin prepares to make a save on a shot off the stick of Soo Thunderbirds forward Daniel Beaupre during the second period of Game 1 of the best-of-seven NOJHL final at the McIntyre Arena Thursday night. Boivin stopped all 20 shots he faced to record his second shutout of the season and chipped in with a pair of assists at the Rock blanked the Thunderbirds 4-0. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Patrick Boivin stopped all 20 shots he faced and earned a pair of assists as the Timmins Rock blanked the Soo Thunderbirds 4-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NOJHL final at the McIntyre Arena Thursday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – Patrick Boivin stopped all 20 shots he faced and earned a pair of assists as the Timmins Rock blanked the Soo Thunderbirds 4-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NOJHL final at the McIntyre Arena Thursday night.

And Boivin’s second assist, on Lucas Piekarczyk’s empty-net tally, might have been the goalie’s first career NOJHL goal with a little luck and a more fortuitous bounce.

Shutouts, assists and missed goals aside, there was only one statistic Boivin was worried about after the game.

“It feels good to get the win and that’s one of four,” he said, while acknowledging it was the first time in his career he has posted a shutout and earned a pair of assists, as well.

“I tried for it (goal), but I just didn’t get enough on it. It (scoring a goal) is in the back of my mind, but I don’t worry about it too much.”

Perhaps Boivin’s toughest stop of the night came in the second period, with the Rock leading 2-0.

A shot appeared to be heading past him five-hole, but the goalie managed to get his pad down and across in time to keep the puck out of his net.

“I just stretched across and I was happy I was able to make the save,” Boivin said.

“The guys were there for me all game, so I wanted to make one for them, too.”

The Rock are now three wins away from an NOJHL championship and Boivin feels it is important to keep the pressure on the Thunderbirds and not let them get any momentum.

“It is important for us to keep going and play the way we did tonight,” he said.

“It is what we have been doing all year.”

Boivin is confident the Rock will be able to ride the wave of momentum they established Thursday night into Game 2 of the series.

“We had a good crowd tonight, so we just need to keep going,” he said.

Rock speedster Ethan Pool extended his goal-scoring streak to five-straight games when he notched what would prove to be the game-winning marker 6:14 into the opening period.

The unassisted tally, the first of two on the night, was Pool’s fifth of the playoffs.

Just over four minutes later, Lucas Piekarczyk netted the first of his two goals in the contest and third of the playoffs.

The Rock carried that 2-0 advantage into the dressing room for the first intermission.

Pool added a little more insurance shortly after the midway point of the second period when he streaked down the wing, with a Thunderbirds defender draped all over him, and slipped the puck past Soo goalie Landon Miller for his second goal of the night and sixth of the playoffs.

The Rock held onto that 3-0 lead until late in the third period when the Thunderbirds pulled Miller in favour of an extra attacker, hoping to spoil Boivin’s shutout bid.

Instead, the goalie rifled the puck down the ice, with Nicholas Frederick picking it up and sliding it across to Piekarczyk who deposited his second goal of the night and fourth of the playoffs into the empty Thunderbirds cage.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was happy to see his squad earn its ninth win in 10 playoff outings, but felt they could have been sharper.

“I didn’t like our game too much,” he said.

“We were good enough, we weren’t good. I thought we were a little sloppy.

“Obviously, they probably feel the same way.

“It is going to be a lot better game tomorrow, but we need to clean some stuff up.

“Happy to get this one, it is a great way to start the series, but I just think we could have been a lot better in a couple of areas.”

The penalty kill was one part of the Rock game the coach was happy with Thursday night.

“It was exceptional, really, really good,” Perry said.

“It has been exceptional all season and it was really good tonight, probably a difference maker.”

As with most nights, the goaltender (Boivin) was one of the keys to the Rock’s success on the penalty kill.

“You talk about the penalty kill, your goalie has to be your best penalty killer,” Perry said.

“He was fantastic tonight, really solid between the pipes and I was really impressed with his game.”

The coach also liked what he saw from Pool and Piekarczyk in Thursday night’s contest.

“He (Pool) has been so good, so good,” Perry said, when asked if he thought the speedster could continue his two-goal-a-game pace in the final.

“He gives us the depth we need and I am happy for him. It is nice to see the pucks going in because I know he was frustrated a lot this season.

“(Piekarczyk) is a heck of a player. He is really, really good and he has got some bite to his game.

“He has great skill and great offensive instincts. I just liked the whole line, with him, Slick (Frederick) and Ringer (Nolan Ring). They have been fantastic for us.”

The coach also had praise for the Rock blue-line, although there were some aspects of their game he thought could have been better.

“All six of our guys back there were really good individually,” Perry said.

“I didn’t like our D Zone (play), I thought it was just a little scrambly. We were not picking up on reads and not as good as we have been all season.

“It was good, don’t get me wrong. Individually, all six D played fantastic. I would just like, as a unit, to play a little better defensively.

“We had a great compete level, I just thought systems wise we were a little messy.”

In addition to recording his second shutout of the playoffs, Boivin’s 20-save performance earned him his fifth win of the post season.

Miller, who turned aside 28 of the 31 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Boivin, Pool and Piekarczyk … The Rock went 0-7 on the power play, while the Thunderbirds were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 1,382 … Game 2 in the series will be played at the McIntyre Arena on Friday, at 7 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel