NOJHL announces playoff dates

The NOJHL has announced the East Division semi-final series between the second-place Timmins Rock and the third-place Hearst Lumberjacks will begin at the McIntyre Arena on Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m.

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Game 2 in the best-of-seven series will also be played at the McIntyre Arena on Friday, March 13, at 7 p.m.

The series will then switch to the Claude Larose Arena in Hearst for Game 3 on Sunday, 15, at 7 p.m., and Tuesday, March 17, at 7 p.m.

If necessary, Game 5 will be played at the McIntyre Arena on Thursday, March 17, at 7 p.m.

Game 6, if necessary, would be played at the Claude Larose Arena on Saturday, March 21, at 7 p.m.

Should the series go the full seven games, the deciding contest would be played at the McIntyre Arena on Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m.

During the 2019-20 regular season, the Rock finished with a record of 42-11-2-1, good for second place not only in the East Division, but also in the NOJHL’s overall standings.

The Lumberjacks, meanwhile, compiled a record of 31-18-4-3, leaving them eight points behind the Rock in the standings.

With 100 goals allowed on the season, the Rock had the best defensive record in the NOJHL, while the Lumberjacks, with 177 goals allowed ranked No. 7 in the 12-team league.

Offensively, the Rock — with 231 goals to their credit — were the NOJHL’s third-most explosive team, while the Lumberjacks ranked No. 6 with 202 goals.

The Lumberjacks (528 minutes) and the Rock (629 minutes) were the NOJHL’s two least penalized squads in 2019-20.

That could be an important factor in a seven-game series, with the Lumberjacks (second, at 22.4%) holding an advantage on the Rock (fifth, at 18.8%) in terms of power-play success.

The Rock, at 88.7%, tops in the NOJHL, of course, have a distinct advantage on the penalty kill, but he Lumberjacks are not too far behind, at 84.2% — good for fourth place.

Head-to-head, the two teams split the four games played at the McIntyre Arena, with the Rock winning 3-0 on Oct. 5 and 9-4 on Dec. 15 and the Lumberjacks coming out on top 4-2 on Sept. 25 and 3-2 on Dec. 1.

At the Claude Larose Arena, the Lumberjacks took three of the four regular-season meetings, winning 5-1 on Nov. 14, 5-2 on Nov. 29 and 6-3 on Feb. 22. The Rock’s lone victory in Hearst was 4-0 decision on Oct. 22.

If the Rock need any extra incentive in their East Division semi-final series they need look no further than the 2019 playoffs.

After sweeping the Cochrane Crunch 2-0 in the best-of-three play-in series, the Rock were eliminated by the Lumberjacks 4-3 in a series they at one point led 3-1.