VIDEO / GALLERY: Pool’s goal lifts Rock to Centennial Cup OT win

Timmins Rock goalie Patrick Boivin peers around Yarmouth Mariners forward Reid Vos as he tracks the puck during Friday afternoon’s game at the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament in Portage la Prairie, Man. Vos scored a pair of goals in the contest, but the Rock — backstopped by Boivin’s 46-save performance — defeated the Mariners 4-3 in overtime. The Rock will take on the LHJQ-champion Cobras de Terrebonne on Sunday, at 4:30 p.m. EDT. ERICA PERREAUX/HOCKEY CANADA IMAGES jpg, TD, apsmc

Photos: Erica Perreaux / Hockey Canada Images

Ethan Pool’s goal 4:14 into overtime lifted the NOJHL-champion Timmins Rock to a 4-3 win over the Maritime Hockey League-champion Yarmouth Mariners at the 2023 Centennial Cup Friday afternoon.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN. — Ethan Pool’s goal 4:14 into overtime lifted the NOJHL-champion Timmins Rock to a 4-3 win over the Maritime Hockey League-champion Yarmouth Mariners at the 2023 Centennial Cup Friday afternoon.

It was perhaps fitting that Pool was the goal scorer given he was the player pulled down by the Mariners while attempting to clear the puck from the front of the Timmins net, allowing Reid Vos to score the game-tying goal with 21.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

Rock fans watching the contest, and even broadcasters Tyler King and Peter Loubardias, speculated a penalty might have been called on the play, negating the Mariners’ scoring chance.

Instead, the game went to a five-minute three-on-three overtime period, with the Rock having two excellent opportunities to end it before Pool’s heroics.

On the first, Captain Nicolas Pigeon stole the puck at the Yarmouth blue-liner and went in all alone on a breakaway just over a minute into the extra frame, but got in too tight and couldn’t get off a shot.

Still, he was able to get the puck out front to Harry Clark and the two Rock forwards and several swipes at the puck but were unable to get it past Mariners goalie Joey Lovullo.

Then, with 2:20 remaining in the period, Pigeon fanned on a one-time attempt after taking a pass from blue-liner Brandon Rossetti on a two-on-one.

That set the stage for Pool’s game-winning dash down the left wing after he took a drop pass from blue-liner Kenyon Nyman, used his speed to cut in front of Lovullo and then jammed the puck past the Yarmouth goalie.

Even though the two teams combined for seven goals, neither squad was able to find the back of the net during the open 20 minutes of action — although the Mariners outshot the Rock 20-9.

Goalie Patrick Boivin was Rock steady, however, as he allowed his teammates to overcome their jitters and settle into what was the first Centennial Cup contest for the majority of them.

“It was our first game, so I knew I had to make a couple of good saves, but then we came back with 18 shots in the second, so it (making 20 saves in the first period) felt great, for sure,” Boivin said, during a post-game interview with Dave Dawson.

Describing one of his toughest saves, Boivin added, “I just slid across, saw it go off a foot onto his stick and I was super happy it went in my glove and not in the net.”

It was the Mariners who drew first blood, however, as Ryan Semple was left all alone in the slot in front of the Timmins net and made no mistake, picking the top corner on Boivin’s blocker side 1:43 into the middle frame.

But the Rock tied things up less than a minute later when Nolan Ring’s shot deflected off Yarmouth blue-liner Patrick Hurley and fell just over the goal-line.

The Mariners retook the lead, 2-1, one second after Rossetti exited the penalty box, with Reid Vos grabbing the puck from in front of Boivin’s left pad and depositing the first of his two goals into the Timmins net.

Clark’s power-play marker, on a tip of blue-liner Felix Cadieux-Fredette’s point shot, at the 9:18 mark, once again tied things up for the Rock.

And just over two minutes later affiliate player Thomas Beard gave the Rock their first lead of the contest, as he took a pass from Lucas Lowe, chipped the puck past a Mariners defender, cut around him and raced in all alone to beat Lovullo over his glove hand.

It appeared that might be the game-winner, until Vos’ second goal of the game with 21.2 seconds remaining in regulation sent the contest to overtime.

“With less than 30 seconds left, they score and it sucked, but we had to come back, it was 3-3,” Boivin said.

“We went into overtime, got a couple of good chances and then Pool went down on the breakaway and scored, so we were very fortunate to have the goal.”

The goalie made it clear he feels opponents and broadcasters alike shouldn’t take the Rock too lightly when it comes to their ability to be a serious Centennial Cup contender.

“We came here for a reason, we didn’t come here to lose,” Boivin said, during a post-game interview with .

“We came here to win. Just because we are from the NOJHL doesn’t mean we are not a good team.

“It shows on the scoreboard why we came out here, for sure.”

While Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was happy with Friday’s overtime victory, he noted the team has some stuff to clean up before their second game.

“We were just so nervous, to be honest with you,” he said.

“I would be lying if I said the coaching staff wasn’t nervous, as well. We were the second-last team to play a game. We had been watching everybody play, watching the other guys practice and we could hear the other guys talking, ‘Oh, these guys are so good, these guys are so good,’ and we were like, ‘We are pretty good, too, you know.’

“That first period, the guys were so nervous. It was one of the worst periods of hockey we have played in a long time, turnover after turnover after turnover.

“We had four clean three-on-twos and couldn’t do anything with them.

“We average 21 shots against in a game and we gave up 20 in the first period, but our goalie stood on his head.

“We just had to take a deep breath and start playing and that’s what we did in the second.”

The Rock demonstrated a great deal of resiliency time and again in the contest.

“With that one-goal lead late in the game, we started to squeeze our sticks a little bit,” Perry said.

“Listen, we did a lot of uncharacteristic things, turned a lot of pucks over, we were panicky with pucks, giving pucks away for no reason. All it was, was just nerves.

“We have got to clean up some things and get on video

“Obviously, it was a big win for us and hopefully our guys can take a deep breath and realize we can play with these guys and get ready for Quebec.”

While the Mariners did a good job of shutting down the Rock’s dynamic duo of Pigeon and Brady Harroun, their teammates stepped up to get the job done offensively.

“They were matching their top line against Pigeon’s line and that resulted in two of the top players in the country going against each other,” Perry said.

“There wasn’t much room or time and space out there but our depth really stepped up.

“It was the guys you expect to be nervous who had the most poise and who were making plays out there.

“Lucas Lowe and Thomas Beard and Hayden Rynard were fantastic. They got a big goal. Lowe made a great play off the wall and Beard made a power move around the D and buried his shot.

“For those three guys to get that goal was huge and I think our depth really played well.”

The coach was not surprised to see Boivin come up big in the Rock net Friday afternoon.

“We played a game in the Cottage Cup (pre-season tournament) in Collingwood and won 1-0 and he stopped so many shots,” Perry said.

“I didn’t think I would see another performance like that but he certainly match or exceeded it this afternoon.

“He was just so dialed in and so solid.”

As good as Boivin was, the save of the game was actually made by blue-liner Chase Longhurst, who got his stick down to stop a shot heading into the wide open net after the goalie had slid to one side while stopping an earlier attempt.

“Chase Longhurst had a heck of a game, as well,” Perry said.

“Our D was good. We did a lot of uncharacteristic things but Kyle Trottier is going to play as hard as he can every single shift.”

Boivin stopped 46 of the 49 shots he faced to earn his first victory in his first Centennial Cup start.

Lovullo, who turned aside 36 of the 40 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

CENTENNIAL CUP NOTES — The Player of the Game for the Rock was Boivin, while Semple was chosen for the Mariners … The Rock went 1-2 on the power play, while the Mariners were 0-3 with the man advantage … Friday’s early contest saw the Ottawa Jr. Canadians (CCHL) edge the Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJQ) 2-1 in overtime … The Rock will return to action on Sunday, when the will take on the Cobras at Stride Place, at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

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