VIDEO / GALLERY: T-birds top Rock in OT, but point streak reaches eight games

Timmins Rock forward Mason Svarich cuts between Soo Thunderbirds defenders Samuel Lake, left, and Kaden Dundas as he advances the puck during Saturday night’s NOJHL contest at John Rhodes Community Centre. Svarich scored a pair of goals, giving him 10 in seven games, but the Rock dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Thunderbirds, ending their seven-game winning streak. BOB DAVIES/FOR NOJHL NETWORK jpg, TD, apsmc

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

SAULT STE. MARIE — Glass half-empty Timmins Rock fans are lamenting the end of the team’s seven-game winning streak, while those who view it as half-full are celebrating the extension of their point streak to eight games.

After witnessing his squad drop a 5-4 NOJHL overtime decision to the Thunderbirds at John Rhodes Community Centre Saturday night, coach and general manager Brandon Perry can see the logic in both points of view.

“Obviously, I wanted the four points but big picture you get three of a possible four points against two good opponents on the road, we will certainly take it,” he said.

“Coming into the weekend, they were the first- and second-place teams in the West Division.”

The Thunderbirds (12-4-2-1) are now second to the Greater Sudbury Cubs (14-4-0-0), while the Soo Eagles (12-5-0-1), whom the Rock defeated 4-1 Friday night, sit in third place.

Mason Svarich’s power-play marker, his first of two goals on the night and ninth of the season, gave the Rock a first-period lead Saturday night, but that would prove to be their load advantage in the contest.

Samuel Lake tied things up for the Thunderbirds before the end of the opening period, as he scored his fifth goal of the season.

Jackson Truchan’s power-play marker, his 12th goal of the season, then put the home side in front just shy of the midway mark in the middle frame.

It didn’t take the Rock long to get the equalizer, however, as Harry Clark scored the first of his two goals of the night and sixth of the season seven seconds later.

The two sides then split four markers equally as the offensive outburst continued before the second intermission.

Callum McAuley’s third goal of the season, a power-play marker, and James Legler’s fourth of the campaign staked the Thunderbirds to a 4-2 lead.

But the Rock stormed back to tie things up on a pair of power-play markers, Svarich’s second goal of the night and 10th of the season and Clark’s second tally of the game and seventh of the campaign.

Those final two goals were scored in the last 28 seconds of the middle frame.

After combining for six goals in the middle frame, neither the Rock nor the Thunderbirds were able to find the back of the net in the third period.

That set the stage for Kolby Fellinger’s game-winning tally, his first goal of the season, with 40 seconds remaining in overtime.

Like many Rock fans, Perry is starting to see a lot of similarities between the current Clark (18, 7-27-34, 6)-Svarich (7, 10-3-13, 0) duo and the Nicolas Pigeon (58, 26-81-107, 32)-Brady Harroun (57, 50-46-96, 66) combination that drove the offence in 2022-23.

“They have been fantastic, obviously,” he said.

“Harry Clark is just a special player, the best player in the league, in my opinion. Obviously, I am a little biased but he shows up every day and I think that’s the biggest thing.

“There are a lot of good, talented players but they don’t show up every single day. Players like Harry are hard to come by and we are lucky to have him.

“He put on quite a show this weekend. The goals he scored Saturday were some of the nicest goals I have ever seen in hockey.

“Obviously, Mason has a nose for the net and a great shot. Those two guys are certainly doing their jobs. They are probably both on pace to surpass (Pigeon’s and Haroun’s) numbers, but time will tell.”

The third member of the Rock’s top line, Nolan Ring (17, 5-8-13, 14), doesn’t garner as much attention as the other two, but his coach knows his contributions are just as important.

“He kind of goes unnoticed a little bit, but he does all the little things and all the hard stuff right to create time and space (for Clark and Svarich),” Perry said.

“It has been a great trio.”

The coach was happy to welcome blue-liner Kyle Trottier, who had been out with an injury since Sept. 22, back to the Rock lineup for the weekend games.

“We needed it bad because there had been some guys eating up too many minutes back there,” Perry said.

“He was great. Obviously, he is a shot-blocking machine and his play inspires his teammates. He is just selfless and that radiates through our (dressing) room.”

A number of other Rock players made a favourable impression on their coach, as well.

“Thomas Beard has been playing some really great hockey,” Perry said.

“He got two big goals for us Friday night and Patty (goalie Patrick Boivin) was really good Friday night and Saturday, as well. We just had some special teams issues, on the penalty kill, in the Thunderbirds game.

“I thought everybody played good. There were certainly moments when we would have liked to have been better, but up and down the roster, I thought everybody was good.”

The Rock were missing leading goal scorer Liam Wells (17, 14-7-21, 16) Saturday night after he left Friday night’s contest with an upper-body injury.

“Obviously, that was a big loss for us up front,” Perry said.

“We’ll get him assessed, but hopefully he will be good.”

Kolton Bourret turned aside 23 of the 27 shots the Rock directed his way to pick up the win for the Thunderbirds.

Boivin, who stopped 31 of the 36 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss for the Rock.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the Saturday’s game were Truchan, Clark and Fellinger … The Rock went 3-3 on the power play Saturday, while the Thunderbirds were 2-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at John Rhodes Community Centre Saturday night 143 … Saturday’s other action saw the Rapids edge the Powassan Voodoos 5-4 in a shootout in French River, the Beavers double up the Espanola Paper Kings 6-3 in Blind River and the Greater Sudbury Cubs blank the Eagles 6-0 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. … The Rock will return to action on Thursday when they take on the Storm at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls, at 7 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel