Brady Harroun scored a pair of goals and set up two others to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 6-1 win over the Rapids in NOJHL action at the Noelville Arena Saturday night.
FRENCH RIVER — Brady Harroun scored a pair of goals and set up two others to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 6-1 win over the Rapids in NOJHL action at the Noelville Arena Saturday night.
It was the sixth-straight victory for the Rock, who blanked the Cochrane Crunch 6-0 at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls Friday night, and their 18th in their past 19 games.
And it allowed the East Division’s Rock (44-7-3-2) to increase their lead over the idle West Division’s Greater Sudbury Cubs (44-10-2-0) in the battle for top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings to three points, with each team having two games left in their regular-season schedules.
“We got the job done and that’s all that matters,” said Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry.
“We were a little sloppy to start and then the usual suspects picked us up and got us going.
“I just thought we had a couple too many passengers tonight, until the third period.”
Harroun, whose two goals leave him just three short in his quest to hit the 50-goal mark, clearly was not one of those passengers, nor were his linemates.
For the second-straight game, the Rock’s No. 1 line of Harroun, Nicolas Pigeon and Nolan Ring came up big, accounting for four of the visitors’ six goals.
“They were absolutely fantastic,” Perry said.
“What more could you ask for from those three guys all season long and you could throw Nicholas Frederick into that group, you could throw Justin Charette into that group.
“They have been great all season and they don’t take nights off, or shifts off and they get rewarded for it.”
Pigeon, who topped the 100-point mark during Friday night’s victory, also had two goals and two assists in Saturday night’s triumph, while Ring, who scored five goals against the Crunch, chipped in with three assists.
Even though the Rock outshot the Rapids 16-10 in the opening period of play, the game remained scoreless through 20 minutes.
Pigeon’s 25th goal of the season, 4:54 into the middle frame, got the Rock on the scoreboard.
Harroun added his 46th goal of the season 16 seconds later and Pigeon followed with his 26th goal of the season to put the Rock in front 3-0 heading into the second intermission.
Lucas Lowe increased the Rock advantage to four goals 4:31 into the third period when he notched his ninth marker of the campaign.
The Rapids were finally able to get on the scoreboard just over two-and-a-half minutes later when Josh Russell netted a power-play marker, his 19th goal of the season.
Harroun got that one back 43 seconds later when he notched his 47th goal of the season.
And Yan Bessette closed out the scoring when he picked up his 22nd goal of the season at the 12:29 mark.
The Rock coach was pleased to see his squad clinch top spot in the division and take another step toward finished first overall.
“I am super happy for our guys and super proud of them for the work they have done all season,” Perry said.
“It wasn’t always, people look at our roster and they might think it was easy but we went through some hard times early on in the season.
“We figured things out and we have been rolling ever since. Our guys show up every day and they really compete. They are a really close group and they are fun to be around.
“It is a little contagious and it is fun coming to the rink.”
With two home games remaining in their regular season, the Rock will soon turn their attention to what they hope will be a long and productive playoff run.
“The real fun will start in a couple of weeks here,” Perry said.
“There is obviously one goal this team has and that’s to win a league championship.
“I think that is on everyone’s mind and we are super happy and proud with where we are at right now, the season we have had, but I don’t think anybody will be satisfied unless we accomplish our main goal.”
Injuries and suspensions forced the Rock to employ three affiliate players — Tyson Scott, Ryan Armitage and Zach Secord — in both weekend games.
“They (affiliate players) have been great for us all year and it was nice to see Tyson get in the lineup Friday night and get his first one (NOJHL goal) and get Zach in there, with those two guys getting their first taste of what it’s like to be up with us,” Perry said.
“It’s not just those two. Every time we seem to bring one of those (GNU18L Timmins) Majors kids up, or a kid from Kapuskasing (Flyers) or the young (Brant) Romaniuk kid from North Bay (U16 Trappers), they always seem to find a way to contribute.”
Already missing bodies, the Rock lost blue-liner Kyle Trottier after he was pasted into the boards by Crunch forward Mathieu Roy early in the second period of Friday night’s win in Iroquois Falls.
“He is day-to-day,” Perry said.
“We are just a thin group right now and a tired group, in the dog days. We need to get some rest, get some guys back from suspension and get healthy.”
It is expected forward Ethan Pool will miss another four to six weeks with a hand injury.
Rock blue-liner Felix Cadieux-Fredette’s indefinite suspension for his involvement in an end-of-game incident on Feb. 20 has now been set at seven games, meaning he has one more game to serve.
Forward Liam Wells, who earned a 10-game ban, will not be back until the third game of the playoffs.
Rock goalie Patrick Boivin blocked 32 of the 33 shots he faced to earn his NOJHL-leading 26th win of the season.
Rapids goalie Brady Dyer, who turned aside 43 of the 49 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game Saturday night were Pigeon, Ring and Russell … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play Saturday night, while the Rapids were 1-2 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Noelville Arena Saturday night was 110 … Saturday night’s other action saw the Red Wings double up the Hearst Lumberjacks 6-3 in Elliot Lake, the Eagles edge the Powassan Voodoos 3-2 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and the Paper Kings dump the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 7-1 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they host the Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.