KIRKLAND LAKE — The Timmins Rock knocked off the Gold Miners 5-3 at the Joe Mavrinac Community Centre Saturday night to strengthen their hold on third place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings — and keep their hopes of grasping second place alive.
While the Rock (33-19-3-0) were skating past the second-place Gold Miners (32-17-3-3), the East Division-leading Lumberjacks (33-16-6-1) edged the fourth-place Powassan Vooodoos 6-5 in overtime at the Claude Larose Arena in Hearst.
As a result, the Rock — who will close out their 2018-19 NOJHL regular season schedule against the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon — now have a three-point lead over Powassan (31-19-3-1).
So, a regulation victory over the Voodoos Sunday afternoon would clinch third place for the Rock and if it were combined with a victory by the French River Rapids over the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake on Wednesday, it would give Timmins second place in the East Division.
Finishing second or third, of course, would keep the Rock from having to take part in the best-of-three play-in round between the fourth place squad and the fifth place team when Round 1 of the NOJHL playoffs opens later this month.
Following a scoreless first period at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex Saturday night, the Rock scored three unanswered goals in the middle frame to take command of the contest.
Keegan McMullen got the visitors on the scoreboard when he notched his 15th goal of the season.
Owen Shier then followed with his seventh goal of the season to double the lead and blue-liner Josh Anderson made it a 3-0 hockey game when he added a power-play marker, his 11th goal of the season with just 27 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Gold Miners finally got on the scoreboard at the 5:45 mark of the third period when Gregory Trudeau-Paquet notched his 27th goal of the season.
Linden Spencer restored the Rock’s three-goal advantage just over two minutes later when he recorded his ninth tally of the season to make it a 4-1 contest.
Just 54 seconds later, the Gold Miners once again pulled to within a pair of goals when Patrick Murphy netted his eighth marker of the season.
Any hopes the Gold Miners had of completing a comeback were dashed at the 14:56 mark of the third period when Mahingan Decontie scored his sixth goal of the season to put the Rock in front 5-2.
Sam Ellwood found the back of the net for his 12th goal of the season with just 22 seconds remaining on the clock, but it proved to be too little, too late for the home side.
Not only did the 5-3 victory ensure the Rock still have a chance of catching the Gold Miners for second place in the division, it also dashed any hopes Kirkland Lake had of catching the Lumberjacks for top spot in the division.
Rock goalie Tyler Masternak stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced to pick up his NOJHL-best 29th victory of the season.
Dawson Rodin, who started the game in net for the Gold Miners, blocked 11 of the 13 shots he faced in his 37:38 between the pipes.
Gregory Brassard, who turned aside 14 of the 17 shots the Rock directed his way in his 22:22 in the Kirkland Lake net, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Rock forward Matt Capisciolto (two assists), Rock captain Derek Seguin (two assists) and McMullen … The Rock did not dress forwards Tyler Hutchinson (undisclosed) and Gage Tremblay (undisclosed) … The Rock went 1-1 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 0-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex was 558 … Saturday’s other action saw the Thunderbirds defeat the Soo Eagles 5-3 in Sault Ste. Marie and the Elliot Lake Wildcats edge the Beavers 2-1 in Blind River … The Rock will close out their regular season schedule when the host the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 2 p.m.