GALLERY: Rock celebrate 2023 accomplishments with Timmins fans

Members of the 2023-champion Timmins Rock hoist some of the hardware the team accumulated during a campaign that wrapped up with a 2-2-0 record at the 2023 Centennial Cup in Portage la Prairie, Man., earlier this month. A parade, followed by festivities at Hollinger Park Friday night, allowed the Rock a chance to share their accomplishments with their fans after they won the title in Sault Ste. Marie and then travelled to Manitoba for the Centennial Cup tournament. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, apsmc

After winning an NOJHL championship in Sault Ste. Marie and going on an impressive 2-2-0 run at the 2023 Centennial Cup in Portage la Prairie, Man., the Rock finally got an opportunity to celebrate with their fans in Timmins Friday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – After winning an NOJHL championship in Sault Ste. Marie and going on an impressive 2-2-0 run at the 2023 Centennial Cup in Portage la Prairie, Man., the Rock finally got an opportunity to celebrate with their fans in Timmins Friday night.

With a police escort, the Rock — led by mascot Mac — were paraded from the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre to Hollinger Park, with hundreds of fans, many wearing Rock jerseys despite the warm temperatures and sunny skies, lining the route.

Following the team bus, the players rode on a flatbed trailer, taking turns waving Timmins Rock flags and hoisting some of the hardware the team won along the way: The Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy (for winning the NOJHL championship), the Gary Hall Memorial Award (as top team in the East Division during the regular season) and the James Aspin Trophy (as top team in the NOJHL overall standings).

Upon arrival at Hollinger Park, the festivities moved to the band shell, with Rock play-by-play announcer Shawn McArthur serving as master of ceremonies, accompanied by the NOJHL squad’s No. 1 fan, Mike Blick.

The players, as well as members of the coach staff, training staff and board of directors were all introduced.

Team President Ted Gooch then offered some words on behalf of the organization, suggesting this season’s championship run calls for an encore performance in 2023-24.

Ward 2 Coun. Lorne Feldman, wearing a white No. 74 Timmins Rock jersey, brought greetings on behalf of the City of Timmins and Mayor Michelle Boileau.

Former mayor George Pirie, now Timmins MPP and Ontario’s minister of Mines, followed suit, sharing his moment in the spotlight with many of the Rock’s younger fans.

It was the players the fans had come to see, however, and they did not disappoint, starting with Captain Nicolas Pigeon, a 20-year-old Aylmer, Que., product and three year veteran of the Rock program.

“2023 champs, baby, are you kidding?” he said, firing up the crowd.

“This is awesome, this is awesome. I am from Ottawa and people are always asking me, ‘why are you coming to Timmins?’

“This is why, this is awesome. You guys are amazing.

“I just want to say thank you to the coaches, thank you Robie (assistant coach Erik Robichaud), thank you Beezer (assistant coach Marc Bisson), thank you Dazz (James Daschuk), thank you Perrs (coach and general manager Brandon Perry), thank you Ted (Gooch), everyone.

“It has been a hell of a ride. My billet family has been unreal.

“(Strength and Conditioning/Power Skating Coach) Lisa (Tremblay), where are you, not so much thank you.

“She was pretty hard on us. Are you kidding me, Lisa, cross-fit before a game? That’s crazy, but that’s why we won, right?

“Nobody worked as hard as us.”

The NOJHL’s leading scorer and regular-season MVP also expressed appreciation to his Rock teammates.

“Boys, you guys are amazing,” Pigeon said.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group. I speak (English with a) French (accent), but none of the boys made fun of me this year.”

Assistant Captain Felix Cadieux-Fredette, affectionately known to his teammates as Freddie, was a man of few words.

“I have not much to say, I love the boys here,” he said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group. I thought we had the group every year to win it, but I guess we needed something else to win and I felt like we were all a family this year.

“I just love all the boys here and thank you to the city, thank you for being here for us. I love you all.”

Like Pigeon, Cadieux-Fredette, an Ottawa product, has been part of the Rock program for three seasons.

While this was the captain’s final year, however, the veteran blue-liner still has one more season of Junior ‘A’ eligibility remaining.

Assistant Captain Nicholas Frederick, a forward better known in the Rock dressing room as Slick, likely hasn’t been at a loss for words since he first learned to talk.

“My first time coming to Ontario, was right here in Timmins,” he said.

“Coach Brandon Perry picked me up at the airport, and that day changed my hockey career, forever.

“Look where we are now, two years later, we are NOJHL champions, so get your beers and let’s celebrate!”

For the record, there were no alcoholic beverages sold or consumed during the festivities.

Frederick, who hails from North Vancouver, B.C., spent two seasons in a Rock uniform and quickly became a fan favourite after first stepping on the ice at the McIntyre Arena.

Assistant Captain Kenyon Nyman, a Maple Ridge, B.C., product, was one of six members of the Rock who took part in the 2022 Centennial Cup in Estevan, Sask., and one of five who wore the uniform of the SIJHL-champion Red Lake Miners that season.

“First off, I just want to thank all of you guys (Rock fans) and especially my billet family and all the other billets who took our boys in,” he said.

“Nothing could have happened without you guys.

“Secondly, I am thankful for all the boys. This is a special group. I went to the Centennial Cup last year and this year was even more special.

“Thanks again to you guys. My time in Timmins is a moment I will never forget.”

Nyman, like Frederick, is too old to return to the Rock next season, but fans will be hoping his younger brother Tenzin, also a blue-liner, will be back in the maroon and gold.

Perhaps the loudest applause was reserved for Rock goalie Patrick Boivin, one of the stars of the 2023 Centennial Cup.

“Are you kidding me Timmins?” he asked.

“I want to thank all these boys, all these fans for being here all year. Let’s run it back next year baby.”

Boivin, who posted a 1.90 goals against average and .950 save percentage at the 2023 Centennial Cup, as one more year of Junior ‘A’ eligibility remaining and it certainly sounded on Friday like he intends to spend it helping the Rock defend their NOJHL crown — music to the ears of any Timmins fan.

In addition to Pigeon, Kenyon Nyman and Frederick, the Rock will also be saying goodbye to blue-liners Brandon Rossetti and Christophe Petit, as well as forward Brady Harroun (whose 50 goals led all NOJHL snipers), Lucas Piekarczyk and Ethan Pool.

Once the formal festivities were concluded, Rock players spent time signing autographs for their fans.

ColdWater – The Band provided musical entertainment and fans had an opportunity to purchase refreshments and souvenirs to mark the most successful season in franchise history.

The new Canadian Junior Hockey League year begins on June 1, when the Rock and other NOJHL squads can begin to sign players for the 2023-24 campaign.