VIDEO / GALLERY: Rock knock off Lumberjacks, regain top spot in East Division

Timmins Rock Captain Nicolas Pigeon goes down on one knee while getting off a shot on Hearst Lumberjacks goalie Ethan Dinsdale during the first period of Tuesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Pigeon’s shot was off target, but he did pick up his NOJHL-leading 33rd assist later in the contest to help the Rock dump the Lumberjacks 3-1 and reclaim to spot in the East Division standings. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The Timmins Rock defeated the Hearst Lumberjacks 3-1 at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night to move into sole possession of top spot in the NOJHL’s East Division standings.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock defeated the Hearst Lumberjacks 3-1 at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night to move into sole possession of top spot in the NOJHL’s East Division standings.

Following Tuesday’s contest, the Rock (17-5-2-2) are two points up on the Powassan Voodoos (18-6-0-0) and the Lumberjacks (17-7-2-0).

It was also a bit of revenge for the Rock who dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the Lumberjacks in Hearst Thursday night after surrendering two goals in the final 7.6 seconds of regulation.

Rock goalie Patrick Boivin who earned his 26th career NOJHL regular-season win agreed Tuesday’s victory might have been his most important.

“We had to get one back from them and this was a good way to do it,” he said.

“It was a big win at home, the fans were loving it and the boys were loving it. We just needed the two points and it was a big one.”

The turning point of Tuesday night’s contest saw the Rock kill off a full two-minute five-on-three Lumberjacks power play shortly after the midway point in the third period, with the contest tied at 1-1.

Adding to the impressive special teams feat was the fact two of the Rock’s best penalty killers, forward Nicholas Frederick and blue-liner Felix Cadieux-Fredette, were the players in the sin bin.

Boivin admitted he, like most of the fans in attendance, breathed a sigh of relief once Frederick (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Cadieux-Fredette (tripping) returned to the ice.

“We had to kill them off and the guys really came up big for us,” he said.

“Then, we got those two goals right after and it felt super good.”

On the shift following the successful penalty kill, Lucas Piekarczyk made sure the shift in momentum did not go to waste, as he scored his 12th goal of the season with just over five minute remaining in regulation.

Blue-liner Kenyon Nyman then added his eighth goal of the season to put the Rock in front by a pair of goals 44 seconds later.

The Lumberjacks pulled goalie Ethan Dinsdale in favour of an extra attacker late in the contest, but even with more than two minutes on the clock they were unable to duplicate their game-saving heroics of Thursday night.

Frederick’s 13th goal of the season on a nifty cross-crease pass from Nolan Ring in the first period had staked the Rock to a 1-0 lead.

Following a scoreless middle frame, the Lumberjacks got back on even terms at the 6:33 mark of the third period on Andrew Morton’s sixth goal of the season.

Given the Rock’s struggles in overtime and shootouts this season, Boivin was happy to see his squad win it in regulation and deny the Lumberjacks any points.

“We needed the two points more than they did and we did not want to give up any points to them,” he said.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was pleased to see his squad continue its string of recent successes that has resulted in 13 of a possible 14 points in the past seven games.

“Momentum is a funny thing and our penalty kill has been fantastic all season (86.3 per cent, No. 3 in the NOJHL),” he said.

“Dazzer (Assistant coach James Daschuk) does a great job with it and the guys do a great job.

“Obviously, your best penalty killer has to be your goalie and I thought Patty was fantastic tonight.”

Piekarczyk, the right-winger on the Rock’s No. 1 line with Captain Nicolas Pigeon and Brady Harroun, was once again a workhorse Tuesday night.

“He is a really good player and he stepped up big time tonight,” Perry said.

“It was a great shot.”

Thomas Beard, not necessarily known for his offence, contributed a pair of assists in the victory.

“Thomas played great tonight,” Perry said.

“He got bumped up in the lineup with guys going down (due to injury and illness). Those opportunities don’t come often and when they do you have got to seize them, take advantage and prove to your coaches and your teammates you can play in those situations and handle those minutes.

“I thought he did that tonight.”

While happy with the win, the coach feels there is still room for improvement.

“I didn’t think we were at our best tonight, but give them some credit,” Perry said.

“They played hard but it is nice to get this one.”

With a number of regulars out of the lineup due to injury or illness, the Rock used affiliate forward Brant Romaniuk, of the GNU18L’s North Bay U16 Trappers.

“I thought he was fine tonight,” Perry said.

“It wasn’t an easy game for him to come into and play against a team like those guys but he gave us good minutes in the first two periods.

“He is a young kid and he has got a bright future. The experience will help him going back to his team and the next time we need a guy, if he is available, he will come back up.”

The coach was also pleased with what he saw from blue-liner Kyle Trottier Tuesday night.

“He was fantastic,” Perry said.

“And I thought Felix Cadieux-Fredette was fantastic on the back end, as well.”

Lumberjacks coach Marc-Alain Begin was naturally disappointed his squad was unable to pick up at least a point after they fought back to tie things up in the third period.

“The first 10 or 12 minutes of the third period, the boys battled back to tie the game but the momentum changer was obviously the five-on-three,” he said.

“They did a good job killing it, but at the same time we have got to be better when we have those kinds of chances.

“The next shift, you could see Timmins was hungry and they got two goals. That was the difference in the game.”

Begin was not surprised by the response from the Rock after Thursday’s heart-breaking game in Hearst.

“We knew they were going to come out hard,” he said.

“It is going to be a battle all season with them and Powassan for first place (in the East Division standings). So, it is going to be important for us to regroup.

“We have got a tough three-game road trip coming up (in Powassan Friday, French River Saturday and Kirkland Lake Sunday).

“We just have to put this one in the back of our minds and focus on Friday.”

The coach was pleased with his goaltending Tuesday night.

“We have a lot of confidence in Ethan and he gave us a chance to win tonight,” Begin said.

“When it was 1-0 he kept us in the game and made some nice saves.

“I think all six of our Ds played solid games, as well. Timmins is fast and relentless on the puck.

“We did a good job of moving the puck.

“Up front, when you score only one goal, there are not a lot of guys who stand out, but I thought Andrew Morton played probably his best game as a Lumberjack.

“It is nice to get him going and I have a lot of confidence our other forwards will regroup and have a good road trip.”

The Lumberjacks made a goalie swap with the French River Rapids this week, acquiring Cochrane product Kaleb Papineau in exchange for Matteo Gennaro.

“We really liked Matteo and he played in Game 7 (of the NOJHL championship series) for us last year but he requested a move and we granted him that wish,” Begin said.

“Moving forward, we are pretty happy with the two goalies we have going down the stretch.”

Dinsdale and Gennaro had split games pretty evenly this season, but the Lumberjacks opted to acquire a younger goalie in the 16-year-old Papineau to pair with their starter.

Boivin stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 12th win of the season for the Rock.

Dinsdale, who turned aside 23 of the 26 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Piekarczyk, Kenyon Nyman and Thomas Beard (two assists) … Rock forward Nicholas Moore served the seventh game of his eight-game suspension … The Rock were also without the services of forward Ethan Pool (upper-body injury), blue-liner Chase Longhurst (upper-body injury), forward Justin Charette (undisclosed) and goalie Jacob Brown (illness) … The Rock went 0-1 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 0-4 with the man advantage … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they will host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel