GALLERY: McArthur’s six-point effort helps lead Rock past Vikings

Timmins Rock forward Brant Romaniuk deposits a backhand shot into the Elliot Lake net for the first of his two goals on the afternoon while cutting between Vikings defender Gabriel Manseau and goalie Sam Keene. Romaniuk’s 22nd and 23rd goals of the season helped the Rock earn an 8-3 win over the Vikings in the final game of the NOJHL regular season for both squads. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Kaeden McArthur scored once and setup five other goals as the Timmins Rock rolled over the Elliot Lake Vikings 8-3 at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS, Ont. – It was the final regular-season game for the Rock who dropped an uninspired 7-2 decision to the Soo Thunderbirds on home ice Friday night.

The Rock, who finished in top spot in the NOJHL’s East Division standings, will now have a week of practice before opening their best-of-seven semifinal series against the Iroquois Falls Storm at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

With nothing but pride on the line Sunday afternoon, the Rock sat out their two leading scorers — Harry Clark and Mason Svarich — as well as fellow forward Lucas Lowe for “maintenance,” while forward Nolan Ring served the fourth game of his five-game suspension and injured blue-liners Kyle Trottier, Aiden Trottier, Elijah Pool and Ethan Albert continued to recuperate from various injuries.

In addition, forward Liam Wells, who scored his 30th goal of the season, left the contest before the puck dropped to start the second period and did not return.

“We tried not to play Freddie (Felix Cadieux-Fredette) and Tee (Tenzin Nyman) as much as we usually do back there, but it was a maintenance day for a lot of guys,” Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry said.

That obviously presented an opportunity for a number of players to step into the limelight.

“I thought everybody played well today,” Perry said.

“We got some great minutes out of our affiliate players, Travis (Poan) and Ian (Lachance) up front and Jacob (Drobny) on the back end. They were unbelievable and fit in seamlessly. The scored a couple of goals and played our systems like they had been doing it all year.

“They were great and I just thought our whole team was great. It was just a good game today.”

The Rock roster was bolstered by the addition of Lachance, Poan and Drobny, as their Timmins U18 Majors were off on the weekend preparing for the Great North U18 League playoff tournament that gets underway in Sudbury on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Vikings — who were playing their third game in two-and-a-half days — only dressed 14 skaters and two goalies.

Hayden Rynard’s power-play marker, his 13th goal of the season, got the Rock on the scoreboard first, at the 2:02 mark of the opening period.

Lachance’s first goal of the season then doubled the home side’s lead.

The Vikings were able to cut into the Rock lead 12 seconds later when Gavin McLenaghan scored his 25th goal of the season.

Wells’ 30th goal of the campaign sent the Rock to the dressing room for the first intermission up 3-1.

Poan’s first career NOJHL goal, 1:34 into the middle frame, added to the advantage and would eventually prove to be the game-winning marker.

“Ian Lachance got the puck to me right in the slot and just roofed it (up and over the goalie),” he said.

“I saw the spot open and I decided I was going to shoot the puck right there.”

Poan, who was playing his first game with the Rock this season after getting into a pair of games as an affiliate player during the 2022-23 campaign, admitted being on a line with Lachance made things a lot more comfortable for him.

“We have played together all season (with the Majors) and created a lot of goals,” he said.

Poan and Lachance each scored 26 goals with the Majors this season, so the success the duo enjoyed Sunday afternoon shouldn’t be too surprising.

His family was on hand to witness his first NOJHL goal and Poan admitted the fact it proved to be the game-winner makes it even more special.

Five-and-a-half minutes later, Brant Romaniuk netted the first of his two goals on the afternoon and 22nd of the season to make it a 5-1 hockey game.

The Vikings managed to close the gap on a Anthony Bertrand power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season, but the Rock added two more tallies before the second intermission.

Blue-liner Tenzin Nyman found the back of the net for his third goal of the campaign and Romaniuk followed with his second goal of the afternoon and 23rd of the season.

The two teams exchanged third-period goals, with McArthur netting his 22nd of the campaign for the Rock just past the midway point and David Parker countering with his third goal of the season for the Vikings two-and-a-half minutes later.

While Perry was happy to see his Rock end the regular season on a winning note, he downplayed any extra significance following Friday night’s setback against the Thunderbirds.

“Listen, we got 41 wins this season, we got beat bad, the penalty kill wasn’t there, we got six power-play goals scored against us, but those nights happen,” he said.

“Everybody hits the panic button, what’s wrong with the Rock? We are not immune to losing and we are not immune to losing bad. We lost some games bad at the beginning of the year, too. It was just one of those nights, things aren’t going your way, you can’t get things going.

“We were trying to make some adjustments on the PK (penalty kill), correct some things, everybody was just thinking a little too much, but it was just a loss, in a long season.

“Five-on-five, we pushed the pace, but it was just little things. We got to the 5-2 goal and all the momentum was with us, then we took a penalty and it was just something we shouldn’t have done.”

The Rock will now turn their full attention to getting ready to open their series against the Storm on home ice Friday night.

“We will take Monday off, get some rest, get some of these injured guys back on the ice, start skating and hopefully we will have a full lineup available come Friday night,” Perry said.

“We have a great group and the majority of our players have been through long playoff runs already and they will be ready to go Friday night.”

Dryden Riley stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced to earn his 21st win of the season for the Rock.

Vikings goalie Sam Keene, who turned aside 39 of the 47 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game Sunday were McArthur, Romaniuk and Poan … The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Vikings were 1-5 with the man advantage Sunday … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday was 1,035 … Sunday’s only other contest saw the Lumberjacks knock off the Soo Thunderbirds 6-2 in Hearst … The Rock will host the Iroquois Falls for Game 1 of the NOJHL’s best-of-seven East Division semifinal series on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.