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GALLERY: Gilberds leads Rock past Crunch

Timmins Rock forward Tyler Gilberds celebrates the second of his two goals against the Crunch during Friday night’s NOJHL game at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane. The second-period marker, Gilberds’ third goal of the season, proved to be the game-winner, as the Rock went on to defeat the Crunch 6-2. The two teams will play the second game fo their 10-game set at the Tim Horton Event Centre Saturday, at 6 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Tyler Gilberds scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 6-2 win over the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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It was the first action for the two sides since the NOJHL’s Christmas break, which was extended by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the first of a 10-game set for the East Division rivals.

Even though the Rock outshot the Crunch 16-8 in the opening frame, it was Cochrane that found the back of the net first.

Ryan Hunter got in behind the Rock defence and deposited the puck behind Timmins goalie Tyler Masternak for his seventh goal of the season at the 1:55 mark.

The Crunch would enjoy that advantage for just over two minutes, however, as Gilberds netted the first of his two goals on the night and second of the season to deadlock the contest at 1-1.

Then, less than four minutes later, Tyler Schwindt beat Crunch goalie Michael Nickolau for his seventh goal of the season, to put the visitors up by a goal heading into the first intermission.

Just under six minutes into the middle frame, Gilberds added his second of the night and third of the season to increase the Rock lead to 3-1.

The Crunch were not going to go down without a fighter, however, and Sebastien Ouimet netted his eighth goal of the season to cut the visitors’ advantage to a single goal.

But two-and-a-half minutes later the Rock were able to restore their two-goal lead when Zach Smith struck for a power-play marker, his third tally of the season, to make it a 4-2 hockey game.

A pair of third-period markers allowed the Rock to close out the scoring and make the final 6-2 in favour of the visitors.

Nicolas Pigeon netted the first of those two goals five-and-a-half minutes into the frame when he potted an unassisted tally, his first NOJHL goal.

Then, Josh Dickson picked up his eight goal of the season with just 17 seconds remaining on the clock.

Masternak turned aside 25 of the 27 shots he faced to pick up his NOJHL-leading eighth win of the season.

Nickolau, who blocked 51 of the 57 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars were Smith, Gilberds and Hunter … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-4 with the man advantage … Forward Graeme McCrory and blue-liner Cole Williamson made their Rock debuts Friday night … The second game of the 10-game series will be played at the Tim Horton Event Centre Saturday, at 6 p.m., with the third also in Cochrane on Sunday, at 3 p.m.