Timmins Rock forward Derek Seguin carries the puck up the ice while being pursued by the strong back check of Powassan Voodoos forward Dylan D’Agostino during Game 5 of their NOJHL East Division semi-final series at the Powassan Sportsplex Friday night. Seguin scored his NOJHL-leading seventh goal in the contest, but it was not enough as the Voodoos defeated the Rock 6-1 to cut the Timmins advantage in the best-of-seven series to 3-2. Game 6 will be played at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 7 p.m. DAVE DALE/POSTMEDIA NETWORK
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
POWASSAN – Cade Herd scored three second-period goals — including two on the power play — to help lead the Voodoos to a 6-1 win over the Timmins Rock in Game 5 of their NOJHL East Division semi-final series at the Sportsplex.
The victory allowed the Voodoos to stave off elimination in the best-of-seven series and force Game 6 at the McIntyre Arena Sunday night.
After dropping three-straight games to the Rock, who still lead the series 3-2, the Voodoos broke things open in the second period Friday night.
The two sides exchanged first-period goals, with Harrison Israels finding the back of the net for his second goal of the playoffs for Powassan and Timmins sniper Derek Seguin replying with his NOJHL-leading seventh marker of the playoffs.
But the middle frame was all Voodoos, with the home side finding the back of the net four times and chasing Rock starting goalie Tyler Masternak in the process.
Herd got the puck rolling early for the home side when he netted his second goal of the playoffs at the 1:42 mark.
Teammate Dylan D’Agostino increased the Voodoos lead to 3-1 two-and-a-half minutes later when he added his second goal of the playoffs.
Herd’s second goal of the night and third of the playoffs, just shy of the midway mark of the stanza, put the Voodoos in front by three goals and resulted in Masternak getting the hook in favour of Eric Jackson in the Rock goal.
Less than two minutes later, Herd proved it didn’t matter to him who was between the pipes for the visitors as he completed his hat-trick, making the score 5-1 in favour of the Voodoos.
Shane Beaulieu’s second goal of the playoffs, just 37 seconds into the third period, closed out the scoring and made the final 6-1.
Even though the Rock were outshot 13-9, coach Corey Beer was relatively happy with his squad’s play in the frame.
“We felt good about where we were at, being tied 1-1 on the road in a game where the other team was playing for its life,” he said.
“It was a back-and-forth period and we had a good response. Derek Seguin scored a gorgeous goal on a great feed from Riley Robitaille.”
The coach wasn’t, however, as pleased with home things went during the middle frame of the contest.
“We just weren’t able to match their desperation and their intensity the rest of the night,” Beer said.
“The second was just one of those periods. It had nothing to do with that whole second-period issue we had earlier in the playoffs.
“We just ran into a team that is the defending league champions and the top team in the league during the regular season and they played like it tonight.
“They had desperation in their game and we saw the full onslaught of their arsenal.
“It was probably foolish to be thinking we were going to win four-straight games against this team.
“That hadn’t happened to them all year and they came to play tonight.”
Indeed, the Voodoos suffered just seven regulation losses and one overtime setback during the course of its 56-game regular season.
The Rock can take some comfort from the fact they still have home-ice advantage on the Voodoos and two chances to close out the series.
“For us, it is going to be a matter of getting back to the drawing board, regrouping and trying to hold serve,” Beer said.
The Rock coach definitely saw an improvement in the way the Voodoos approached the game Friday night.
“If I was sitting there as a neutral observer, I would have absolutely loved the way they played with the puck tonight,” Beer said.
“Their pace was phenomenal. They were flash and dash got through us pretty good. Their backcheck was pretty good tonight, as well. They gave us no time and space.
“When you get into a series like this, the team that is down is going to be playing with their backs against the wall and unless you can equal that intensity, you are going to be left holding the wrong end of the cards.”
The Rock’s normally strong penalty kill was not quite as effective Friday night with two of the team’s top penalty killers — Evan Kentish-Stack (upper-body injury) and Linder Spencer Spencer (serving the first game of his indefinite suspension for spitting following a Game 4 incident) — not dressed.
“That certainly hurt and we were also missing (affiliate defenceman) Frederic Leclair-Pouw, who was down tonight with an illness, too,” Beer said.
“You take his instincts out of the mix on the back end and we were up against it for sure.
“You can’t really replace a guy like Kenty and the way he instinctively reads the penalty kill and really drives our guys.
“They were able to get in the shooting lanes on us tonight and they were opportunistic down low. They did a good job of winning puck battles.
“Unfortunately, when their power play gets going the way it can sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it.”
Beer opted to single out a couple of players for a little extra praise.
“Derek Seguin was a horse for us once again,” he said.
“Jace Soroko has been playing some really good hockey for us and Stewart Parnell has a really solid game. (Paul) Spadafora, playing in just his second game back from an injury, is starting to get his legs under him.”
Beer is confident his squad will rebound from Friday night’s loss when the puck drops on Game 5 Sunday night.
“We have a good group here that can respond to adversity,” he said.
“We have done it all year and this is just going to be another test for us.”
Voodoos goalie Christian Cicigoi turned aside 20 of the 21 shots the Rock fired his way to earn his first NOJHL playoff victory.
Masternak, who stopped16 of the 20 shots he faced prior to getting the hook, was tagged with the loss for the Rock. In his 30:07 of relief, Jackson blocked 23 of the 25 shots.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Herd, Voodoos blue-liner Eric Mondoux (two assists) and Beaulieu … In addition to Kentish-Stack, Spencer and Leclair-Pouw, the Rock were also missing forward C.J. Bradburn (upper-body injury) … The Rock went 0-6 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 3-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 301 … Friday’s other action saw the Canadians blank the Blind River Beavers 1-0 in Raysdie-Balfour to take a 3-1 lead in their West Division semi-final series and the Eagles blank the Soo Thunderbirds 3-0 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to take a 3-1 lead in the other West Division semi-final series … The Rock and the Voodoos will play Game 6 of their East Division semi-final series at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 7 p.m.