Timmins Rock blue-liner Kyle Trottier grimaces as he slides across to block a pass off the stick of Espanola Paper Kings forward Grant Booth in front of goalie Patrick Boivin during the first period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. The Rock overcame a 2-0 deficit and went on to edge the Paper Kings 5-4. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
Mason Svarich scored a pair of goals, including his team-leading 19th of the season, as the Timmins Rock outlasted the Espanola Paper Kings 5-4 at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
The victory allowed the Rock (19-9-2-0) to strengthen their hold on top spot in the NOJHL’s East Division standings, moving four points ahead of the Powassan Voodoos (17-11-0-2), who dropped a 4-3 decision to the West Division-leading Greater Sudbury Cubs Friday night.
It was the third-straight win for the Rock who will take on the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake on Sunday, at 2 p.m.
Things didn’t start out too well for the Rock Friday night, as they had to dig themselves out of a 2-0 hole.
Jack Lynes’ 11th goal of the season seven minutes into the opening period gave the Paper Kings the early advantage in the contest.
Owen Fergusson then added a power-play marker, his 20th goal of the season, six minutes into the middle frame.
It took the Rock just over a minute to get that one back, however, as Brant Romaniuk scored his fifth goal of the season.
The Paper Kings carried a 2-1 advantage into the third period, but the Rock fought back to tie things up and then take their first lead of game.
Lucas Lowe’s power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season, deadlocked the score four minutes into the frame.
Four minutes later, Svarich added another power-play marker, his 18th goal of the season, to make it a 3-2 hockey game.
“Wellsy (Liam Wells) did a good job getting the puck into the zone on the power play,” Svarich said.
“I picked it up on the half wall, looked up, had a lane to the net, so I just took what was available, put a shot low blocker, around the D-man.”
The Paper Kings battled back to tie things up and then take a 4-3 lead in the contest.
Graydon Guthrie was the author of both of those goals, his seventh and eighth of the campaign, 52 seconds apart.
Svarich’s second power-play marker of the night and his team-leading 19th goal of the season, got the Rock back on even terms with 3:24 remaining in regulation.
“We were moving the puck around the outside a little bit, had a few chances and Brant ended up hitting me in the slot,” Svarich said.
“It was a little bit of a knuckle puck and it just found its way in.”
With overtime looking like a real possibility, Kaeden McArthur scored his 17th goal of the season 45 seconds later.
The Paper Kings pulled goalie Jake Marois in the game’s final minute in hopes of gaining the equalizer, but time ran out of the Espanola, leaving the Rock with the 5-4 victory.
Svarich was confident once the Rock took that final one-goal lead they were going to be able to hold it.
“Patty (Rock goalie Patrick Boivin) did a good job of not letting that next one in,” he said.
“The boys stayed positive on the bench and we kept rolling through. Lowesie did a good job putting one in in the third period and then did a good job defensively.
“For our PK (penalty kill) to hold them to only one goal on the five-minute penalty was huge. It kept us in the game.”
Svarich acknowledged the Top 5 teams in the West Division are all capable of putting up a tough fight, a point proven by the effort put forth by the Paper Kings Friday night.
“It is super fun playing any of the teams from that side,” he said.
“They are all consistently good, so you have to bring it every night.”
With Nolan Ring still out of the lineup due to an upper-body injury, Romaniuk was once again the third member of the Rock’s top line with Svarich and Harry Clark.
“Brant has been playing awesome for a young guy,” Svarich said.
“He likes playing with us and we like playing with him. Obviously, it sucks not having Ringer out there with us, but Brant is doing a great job.”
The two newest members of the Rock, forward Jack Kelly and blue-liner Ethan Albert, made their debuts during Friday night’s contest and Svarich was impressed with what he saw from his new teammates.
“Both of them looked really good tonight,” he said.
“Bert looked awesome on defence and Kells made a huge play at the end to set up K-Mac.”
Boivin stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced to earn his 10th win of the season.
Marois, who turned aside 38 of the 43 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Svarich, Guthrie and Romaniuk … The Rock went 3-5 on the power play, while the Paper Kings were 1-3 with the man advantage … Rock blue-liner Elijah Pool was ejected from the game in the second period after being assessed a five-minute major penalty for slew-footing … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 942 … Friday’s other action saw the Greater Sudbury Cubs edge the Voodoos 4-3 in Powassan and the Blind River Beavers dump the Eagles 4-1 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. … The Rock will travel to Kirkland Lake for a game against the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex on Sunday, at 2 p.m. The next home game will be on Friday when the Rock will host the Iroquois Falls Storm at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel