COCHRANE — Tyler Gilberds scored a pair of goals and added an assist to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 6-2 victory over the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night.
The victory allowed the Rock (37-9-1-1) to keep pace with the Powassan Voodoos (38-7-1-0) in the battle for top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings.
The Voodoos, who lead the Rock by a single point but have a pair of games in hand on their East Division rivals, needed overtime to knock off the Lumberjacks 5-4 in Hearst Friday night.
In Cochrane, the Rock jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back.
Josh Dickson got the visitors on the scoreboard first when he notched his team-leading 25th goal of the season at the 3:21 mark of the opening period.
Three-and-a-half minutes later Phil Caron added his 16th goal of the season to give the Rock a two-goal cushion heading into the first intermission.
Three unanswered second-period goals allowed the Rock to blow the game wide open.
Brendan Boyce got the puck moving at the 2:41 mark when he scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal. It was the fifth tally of the season for the blue-liner who was filling in up front in the contest.
Just over six minutes later, Gilberds netted the first of his two goals on the night, his 17th of the campaign.
Gabinien Kioki then closed out the scoring in the frame when he netted his ninth goal of the season. It marked the third-straight game in which the Attawapiskat native has found the back of the net.
Trailing 5-0 heading into the third period, the Crunch pulled starting goalie Zach Wickson, with Tomi Gagnon coming on to finish up the contest between the pipes for Cochrane.
The netminding change did not pay immediate dividends, however, as Gilberds ripped a slap shot past the new puck stopper for a power-play marker at the 4:32 mark of the third period.
It was the second goal of the night and 18th of the season for the 18 year old.
The Crunch were finally able to give their fans something to cheer about just past the nine-minute mark when Nicholas Grandy spoiled the shutout bid of Rock goalie Vance Meyer with his 17th goal of the season.
Then, just over a minute later, Dakota Seaman added his third goal of the season for the Crunch to close out the scoring.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Gilberds, Caron and Rock forward Riley Brousseau (two assists) … The Rock did not dress forwards Riley Robitaille (serving the first game of a six-game suspension) , Cameron Kosurko (upper-body injury) and David Laroche (lower-body injury), as well as blue-liner Quinn Schneidmiller (upper-body injury) … The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-2 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Tim Horton Event Centre was 250 … Friday night’s other action saw the Gold Miners double up the French River Rapids 6-3 in Kirkland Lake, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians edge the Wildcats 5-4 in overtime in Elliot Lake and the Blind River Beavers top the Express 5-2 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Sunday afternoon when they take on the Express in Espanola. The next home game for the Rock will be on Tuesday night when they host the Crunch at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.