Blind River Beavers goalie Patrick Boivin peers around a group of players in front of his crease during an NOJHL game against the Timmins Rock at the McIntyre Arena on March 13. The Rock have acquired the 2003-birth-year netminder from the Beavers in exchange for a player development fee. Boivin is expected to compete for the No. 1 job in the Rock crease in 2022-23. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
After dealing away two key members of their 2021-22 squad, the Timmins Rock have acquired a veteran of three NOJHL campaigns to help bolster their crease.
Patrick Boivin, a 2003-birth-year left-hand catching goalie, was acquired from the West Division Blind River Beavers on Monday in exchange for a player development fee.
The 5-10, 178-pound Blind River native started the 2021-22 campaign with the West Division Espanola Express (1,284:00, 8-13-2-0, 1, 3.51, .908) before being acquired by his hometown Beavers (756:00, 6-4-2-0, 2, 3.17, .889) at the Jan. 10 CJHL trade deadline.
He saw playoff action with the Beavers (178:00, 1-2, 0, 2.70, .925), who were eliminated in semifinal action by the eventual NOJHL champion Soo Thunderbirds.
During the 2019-20 campaign, Boivin got into one game with the East Division’s Hearst Lumberjacks (23:00, 0-0-0-0, 0, 0.00, 1.000).
He did not see any action at all during the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 NOJHL season.
Boivin broke into the NOJHL during the 2018-19 campaign, playing in a pair of games with the Beavers (17:00, 0-0-0-0, 0, 3.47, .875).
Prior to graduating to the NOJHL, he saw time in the Great North U18 League with the Kapuskasing Flyers and, prior to that, Sudbury.
Current Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry, who swung the deal to acquire Boivin was the coach of the GNU18L’s Timmins Majors at the time and is quite familiar with his work.
“We expect him to bring some experience to our team,” Perry said.
“He is a kid I have known for a while, with our teams playing against him when I was with Majors and he was in Kap.
“I am certainly glad he is on our side now. He is a very good goalie, who has experience in our league.
“We are certainly excited to get Patrick in here and see if he can help us get over the hump and win a championship.”
Boivin got into both games the Rock played against the Beavers during the 2021-22 campaign, both victories for Timmins.
On March 4, during a game at the Blind River Community Centre, he allowed four goals on 10 shots during 22:04 in relief Gavin Disano in a game the Beavers went on to lose 10-0.
Things went a lot better for Boivin during the Beavers only visit to the McIntyre Arena on March 13, as he turned aside 39 of the 42 shots the Rock directed his way, although Blind River dropped a 3-2 decision.
Boivin’s arrival creates a bit of a logjam in the Rock crease, at least for the time being, with three other goalies still on the roster.
Gavin McCarthy (2,300:00, 23-8-5-2, 3, 2.53, .902) was one of the top netminders in the NOJHL last season and primary backup Konrad Simard (600:00, 10-0-0-0, 2, 2.10, .902) won all 10 of his starts.
Simard, however, left the Rock during the playoffs and did not return.
And then there is Josh Briand (0:00, 0-0-0-0, 0, 0.00, 1.000) who did not see any game action, but dressed as the backup on a number of occasions.
Perry was tightlipped about how things will playout in goal, beyond stating Boivin and Briand will be part of the equation.
“We expect Patrick to come in here and compete for the No. 1 job,” he said.
“Josh looked good at training camp over the weekend, in Whitby.”
The Rock held their annual three-day tryout camp at the Iroquois Parks Sports Centre in Whitby on the weekend.
The Rock fully expect a number of the players who took part in that camp to be eventually signed, although they currently don’t have anybody “signed signed, physically on the (Junior ‘A’ Player or Goaltender) card.”
“We have commitments from returning players,” Perry said.
“We have Nicolas Pigeon (38, 12-35-47, 23) coming back, who in my mind will be the best player in the league. It won’t even be close.
“We have Nolan Ring (34, 9-13-22, 16) coming back and he looked fantastic on the weekend. He will be ready to take another step, offensively.
“Liam Wells (46, 13-10-23, 45) is coming back and I think everybody saw how explosive he was last year, as a rookie.
“He brings a bid, physical aspect to our lineup.
“Justin Charette (47, 11-13-24, 2), who played as a 16 year old last year, will be looking to take another step in his development.”
The Rock have also added 6-0, 163-pound, 2005-birth-year, left-shooting forward Thomas Beard, a South Porcupine product who spent the 2021-22 campaign with the Majors (25, 10-10-20, 28), to the roster.
“We are still waiting to hear back from Nicholas Frederick (33, 9-15-24, 16) and Harry Clark (13, 9-8-17, 8) and we have four commitments to forwards from the camp over the weekend,” Perry said.
“We committed to three defencemen at our camp, as well, and we are just waiting for those commitments to be returned.
“Things certainly look good. We are in a good spot right now.”
In a bit of a surprise move, prior to camp the Rock dealt blue-liner Bode Dunford and forward Christopher Engelbert to the OJHL’s Toronto Patriots in exchange for a player development fee.
Dunford was coming off a stellar 2021-22 campaign (45, 8-29-37, 28), his second in a Rock uniform, and a solid 2022 playoff run (11, 0-6-6, 8).
The 6-0, 175-pound, 2002-birth-year, left-shooting Peterborough native broke into the NOJHL with the Rock during the 2020-21 season (20, 1-10-11, 4).
His departure leaves the Rock a little thin on the blue-line, with only left-shooting Felix Cadieux-Fredette (47, 0-14-14, 36) and right-shooting Chase Longhurst (37, 3-9-12, 10), set to return, as well as the three commitments made during the weekend tryout camp.
“That one’s going to hurt, big time,” Perry admitted.
“He was a fantastic player, a fantastic person and a great leader in our dressing room.
“We have Felix and Chase coming back and that’s basically it. We have some big holes to fill on the back end.
“We do have some commitments out there to some defencemen, just waiting for those commitments to be returned.”
Perry noted the trade was made to honour Dunford’s desire to finish up his Junior ‘A’ career a little closer to his hometown.
“At the end of the day, we don’t want players who don’t want to be here,” he said.
“They think the grass is greener somewhere else, but that is not always the case.
“Bode gave us two good, solid seasons here, he requested to be traded and we fulfilled that request.”
Meanwhile, Engelbert was coming off a solid 2021-22 rookie campaign (44, 17-22-39, 13) and 2022 playoff run (9, 2-4-6, 6) and he appeared poised to assume even more offensive responsibility.
The 6-0, 165-pound, 2003-birth-year, left-shooting Cobourg product was acquired from his hometown Cougars, of the OJHL, prior to the start of the season.
Perry is confident, however, the Rock won’t have any difficulty finding the offence Engelbert potentially could have generated in 2022-23.
“We have returning guys who are ready to step up, just like Engelbert, who was ready to take that next step,” he said.
“He was very good for us. He was a very responsible player, smart, who could contribute offensively, penalty kill and play power play.
“He played a shutdown roll against other teams’ top lines during the playoffs and he was a Top 6 forward for us.
“He is going to leave a big hole to fill, but again we don’t want guys who don’t want to be here.
“We brought him in, gave him an opportunity, put him in positions to be successful as a player and now he wanted to move.
“We wish him the best, but we have some good players returning who want to be part of the Timmins Rock organization and are very proud to be part of the Timmins Rock organization.
“That’s where we are setting our focus.”
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock are not the only team making moves in preparation for the 2022-23 campaign. In addition to shipping Boivin to the Rock, the Beavers traded forward Ryan Doucette to the SIJHL’s Kam River Fighting Walleye, shipped goalie Jeremi Delaquis to the NOJHL’s Greater Sudbury Cubs and blueliner Nolan Connolly to the OJHL’s Pickering Panthers. The Cochrane Crunch acquired goalie Jacob Dubinsky from the KIJHL’s Okanagan Knights. The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners traded forward Ryan Evenhuis to the OJHL’s Aurora Tigers and shipped forward Luciano Supino to the OJHL’s Trenton Golden Hawks. The French River Rapids shipped goalie Cole Sheffield to the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. The Soo Thunderbirds acquired forward Matt Spence from the SIJHL’s Sioux Lookout Bombers.