UPDATE / VIDEO / GALLERY: Rock pull even with Voodoos

Forward Thomas Beard scored the game-winning goal as the Timmins Rock defeated the Powassan Voodoos 7-1 in Game 4 of the NOJHL East Division final at the Powassan Sportsplex Monday night, to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2. The Rock will host the Voodoos in Game 5 at the McIntyre Arena on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

Photos: voodooshockey.com

POWASSAN, Ont. – After being held to eight goals during the first three games on the NOJHL East Division final, the Timmins Rock erupted for a 7-1 victory over the Voodoos at the Sportsplex Monday night.

As a result, the Rock return home for Game 5 with the best-of-seven series tied at 2-2.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry, who called for his team to boost it offensive output following Game 3 on Sunday night, was obviously pleased with the increased firepower he witnessed.

“I think it was just a matter of time with the pressure we have been bringing and how well we have been playing,” he said.

“We got the job done, two wins on the road, got our home-ice advantage back, that was the goal, but there is still a lot of hockey left to be played.”

It took just 43 seconds for the Rock offence to get clicking Monday night, as Brant Romaniuk scored the first of his two goals in the contest and fifth of the playoffs.

The Rock carried that 1-0 advantage into the first intermission and then exploded for five second-period markers to take command of the contest.

And, like the first period, it didn’t take long for the Rock to start lighting the lamp behind Voodoos goalie Daniel Dirracolo, as Thomas Beard netted what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his second tally of the playoffs, 1:47 into the frame.

Just over three minutes later, Harry Clark struck for a shorthanded marker, his first of two goals in the game and seventh of the season.

Special teams continued to play a big role in the period just past the midway point, as Romaniuk collected a power-play marker, his second goal of the night and sixth of the playoffs.

Nolan Ring’s first goal of the playoffs then increased the Rock advantage to five goals less than two minutes later.

That spelled the end of Dirracolo’s night, as Miles Gordon came on in relief — marking the first time the Voodoos starter was not between the pipes since the playoffs started, other than when his team had pulled him in favour of an extra attacker late in games they were trailing.

The move barely slowed the Rock roll, however, as Mason Svarich added another power-play marker, his sixth goal of the playoffs to make it a 6-0 hockey game heading into the second intermission.

Reyth Smith gave Voodoos fans something to cheer about when he scored his eighth goal of the playoffs two minutes into the third period, spoiling the shutout bid of Rock goalie Patrick Boivin.

That would be as close as the Voodoos would come to getting back into the contest, though, as Clark added his second goal of the game and eighth of the playoffs with less than five minutes remaining on the clock.

Perry liked what he saw from the Rock special teams, on both sides of the puck, Monday night.

“We have been working hard at it, but they had been doing a great job on their penalty kill, giving our guys fits, but we finally found a way to break through tonight,” he said.

“I think we scored a power play goal in Game 1 and Game 2, as well, but we had too many chances where we left too many opportunities on the table, which is probably why we didn’t deserve to win in Game 1 and Game 2.

“I was super happy with our special teams tonight.”

After struggling on the penalty kill during the regular season, the Rock now boast the No. 1 unit in the playoffs, operating at an efficiency rating of 91.7 per cent (22 successful kills in 24 opportunities, with a shorthanded goal, as well).

The Rock’s No. 1 line, featuring Clark, Svarich and Romaniuk, accounted for five of the team’s seven goals Monday night.

“They were good, they played well,” Perry said.

The coach also like what he saw from his veteran goaltender, who is rounding into form at the opportune time.

“Patty was very good, so calm back there, made the saves he had to make to keep us in the game,” Perry said.

“We were pressing a lot, then took a penalty, but he did his job. He is playing fantastic hockey right now.”

The coach saved his biggest accolades for Beard, who found the back of the net for the second-straight game.

“Thomas Beard has arguably been our best player the last two nights,” he said.

“He just plays the game with such an edge and scored a beautiful goal tonight. He is just tenacious and works so hard. We need more guys to play like him. It has been really special to watch him go.”

The coach agreed the Rock simply wore out Dirracolo, who earlier on Monday had been named the NOJHL’s first star for the previous week.

“We just wanted to keep the pressure on him,” Perry said.

“He had stopped a lot of rubber lately, played in a lot of overtime games, started every single game, so we figured he would have to start getting a little tired.

“I think that’s what it was tonight, he was just a little mentally tired, but it was just one game. He will be back ready to go for Game 5 and so will we.”

The Rock coach understands it will be critical for his team to play with the same intensity in Game 5 that they did in the past two games in Powassan.

“We just have to get home, get rested, get back to it and keep getting better every single day,” Perry said.

“Even in a 7-1 win, we had some sloppy moments, especially at the beginning of the third period when we were up 6-0 and it felt like the game was over. We have got to tighten these things up if we want to win Game 5.

“That’s our mentality right now.”

The Rock broke one pattern in the series Monday night when they became the first team to win after scoring the game’s first goal. Now, they will be looking to secure the first home victory in the series Thursday night.

“It is super important to protect home ice,” Perry said.

“Winning these two games here (in Powassan) makes that three minutes of bad hockey we played (in Game 1) at home sting a little bit more.”

Boivin stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced to earn his fourth win of the playoffs for the Rock.

Dirracolo, who turned aside 23 of the 28 shots the Rock directed his way in his 32:13 between the pipes, was tagged with the loss. Gordon’s 27:47 of relief work saw him stop 10 of the 12 shots he faced.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Romaniuk, Clark and Boivin … The Rock went 2-5 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal, while the Voodoos were 0-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 339 … Game 5 in the best-of-seven series will be played at the McIntyre Arena on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel