Gavin McCarthy and his Timmins Rock teammates, from left, Chase Longhurst, Nolan Ring and Tanner Hamilton, shown here in action against the Crunch at the McIntyre Arena on Dec. 12, will have their eyes on the prize when they host Cochrane in the first home game of the second half of the NOJHL schedule on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Leading both the NOJHL’s East Division and overall standings, the Rock will hit the road for a game against the Express in Espanola Friday night before getting ready to welcome the Crunch. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
The NOJHL has announced a revamped schedule for the remainder of its 2021-22 campaign, with the race to the playoffs getting underway with a pair of games on Thursday.
Timmins Rock fans will have to wait an extra day, as their favourite NOJHL squad will hit the road for their first game against a West Division opponent on Friday, when they visit the Express in Espanola.
Instead of having to play five-straight games on the road before returning to the friendly confines of the McIntyre Arena, however, the Rock will now entertain the Cochrane Crunch on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m.
Heading into the second half of the NOJHL’s now 48-game (originally 56 games) campaign, the Rock (23-5-1-1) hold down top spot in both the NOJHL’s East Division and overall standings, one point up on the Powassan Voodoos (21-6-4-1) and two points ahead of the Hearst Lumberjacks (22-7-2-0).
The Rock, whose last regular season action saw them shutout the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 7-0 on home ice on Dec. 19, made a number of changes prior to the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Jan. 10 trade deadline.
Added to the roster were 20-year-old blue-liners Eric Moreau (acquired from the OJHL’s Lindsay Muskies) and Carson Cox (picked up from the Lumberjacks).
Leaving town were forwards Tyler Patterson (traded to the Lumberjacks in exchange for Cox) and Daniel Beaupre (shipped to the OJHL’s Trenton Golden Hawks), as well as blue-liner Riley Dubois (dealt to MHL’s Amherst Ramblers).
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, Moreau and Cox hit the ice with their new teammates for practice in preparation for Friday night’s game in Espanola.
The Rock’s remaining 18 games (nine at home and nine on the road) will see the squad play one home game and one road game against each of the West Division’s six squads, starting with Friday’s trip to Espanola.
The NOJHL’s regular season is scheduled to conclude March 28, with playoff competition beginning shortly after that.
Following is a breakdown of the Rock’s remaining 18 regular-season games:
• Feb. 8 (Tuesday) — Crunch vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 7 p.m.
• Feb. 21 (Monday) — Greater Sudbury Cubs vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 3 p.m.
• Feb. 25 (Friday) — Soo Eagles vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 7:30 p.m.
• Feb. 27 (Sunday) — Hearst Lumberjacks vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 3 p.m.
• March 11 (Friday) — Espanola Express vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 7:30 p.m.
• March 12 (Saturday) — Soo Thunderbirds vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 7 p.m.
• March 13 (Sunday) — Blind River Beavers vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 3 p.m.
• March 24 (Thursday) — Elliot Lake Red Wings vs Rock, McIntyre Arena, 7 p.m.
• Feb 4 (Friday) — Rock vs Espanola Express, Espanola Regional Recreation Complex, 7:30 p.m.
• Feb. 18 (Friday) — Rock vs Soo Eagles, Pullar Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
• Feb. 19 (Saturday) — Rock vs Soo Thunderbirds, John Rhodes Community Centre, 7:30 p.m.
• March 3 (Thursday) — Rock vs Greater Sudbury Cubs, Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, 7:30 p.m.
• March 4 (Friday) — Rock vs Blind River Beavers, Blind River Community Centre, 7 p.m.
• March 17 (Thursday) — Rock vs Cochrane Crunch, Tim Horton Events Centre, 1:30 p.m.
• March 18 (Friday) — Rock vs Hearst Lumberjacks, Claude Larose Arena, 7 p.m.
• March 20 (Sunday) — Rock vs Elliot Lake Red Wings, Centennial Arena, 7 p.m.
• March 25 (Friday) — Rock vs Hearst Lumberjacks, Claude Larose Arena, 7 p.m.
• March 27 (Sunday) — Rock vs Rapids, Noelville Community Centre, 3 p.m.