UPDATE / VIDEO / GALLERY: Timmins hits win column in Powassan

Timmins Rock blue-liner Ethan Albert keeps a close watch on Powassan Voodoos forward Will Rivet as the pair of No. 7s await the puck drop during Game 3 of the NOJHL’s East Division final at the Powassan Sportsplex Sunday night. After dropping the first two games of the series on home ice, the Rock posted a 4-1 victory over the Voodoos. They will be looking to even things up in Game 4, before heading home for Game 5 on Thursday. NOJHL NETWORK jpg, TD, apsmc

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

Photos: voodooshockey.com

POWASSAN — The Timmins Rock combined stellar goaltending from Patrick Boivin with some timely goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the Voodoos at the Sportsplex Sunday night.

Despite the setback, the Voodoos continue to lead the best-of-seven NOJHL East Division final 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for the Sportsplex Monday night.

For the third-straight game, the team that scored the game’s first goal ended up going down to defeat — although overtime wasn’t required for the first time in the series Sunday night.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was not convinced, however, spotting the Voodoos a lead would be the best path toward success moving forward.

“I am not sure that’s the best recipe for success, but things seem to be going that way,” he said.

Interestingly, it also marked the third-straight game in which the two teams combined to score five goals.

The Rock outshot the Voodoos 15-12 during the first period of play, but it was the home team that got on the scoreboard first, as Zach Turner netted his third goal of the playoffs.

Mason Svarich’s fifth goal of the playoffs, 33 seconds into the middle frame, got the Rock back on even terms, as they outshot the Voodoos 14-9 in the period.

Jack Anderson, who had sat out Game 1 and Game 2 of the series, then gave the Rock a 2-1 lead when he scored his second goal of the playoffs, an unassisted effort, at the 12:43 mark of the third period.

In the game’s dying minutes, the Voodoos pulled goalie Daniel Dirracolo in favour of an extra attacker in hopes of tying things up an forcing overtime.

Unlike Game 1 of the series, when that strategy resulted in a pair of goals, however, it was the Rock who struck for two more tallies to put the contest out of reach.

Harry Clark netted the first of those two markers, his sixth goal of the playoffs, with 1:07 remaining in regulation.

Thomas Beard then added his first goal of the playoffs with just 32 seconds remaining on the clock.

While the Rock coach was pleased with the outcome of Sunday night’s contest, he still feels there is room for improvement.

“We had a lot of heart, but I just thought, execution wise, on some stuff we weren’t exactly sharp,” Perry said.

“They have a great team over there and they are obviously not going to let us do what we want, so we have to take advantage of the opportunities we get. We left a lot on the table tonight, but I am certainly happy with the win.”

The Rock made a few adjustments between Game 2 and Game 3 of the series, but Perry downplayed the role chose changes played in the outcome of Sunday night’s contest.

“Not anything super significant, we tweaked a few things, here and there, but the biggest thing, obviously, is we have to score (more goals),” he said.

“We had a ton of chances in the first two goals and we are not a team that (normally) scores two goals a game. We just have to find a way to score more goals. Even tonight, we had a lot of chances, two-on-ones, missed some empty cages, missed some rebounds and the power play wasn’t executing cleanly.

“We just have to find a way to find the back of the net. Dirracolo is playing great, their team is playing great, but we have to capitalize on our chances.”

One of the positives for the Rock — even during Game 1 and Game 2 of the series — has been the improved play of the penalty kill to this point in the playoffs, operating at an efficiency rating of 89.5 per cent, tops in the entire NOJHL.

“It has been absolutely fantastic in the playoffs,” Perry said.

“It struggled during the regular season, but Beersy (former Rock coach Corey Beer) has been helping us out with it and it has been really sharp.”

Another positive for the Rock to this point in the playoffs has been their ability to keep the puck out of their net, allowing just 13 goals in their first seven games.

“(Goalie) Patrick Boivin was our best player tonight, by far, and you need that during the playoffs,” Perry said.

“Look what Dirracolo has been doing for those guys at the other end of the rink. Our goalies have been great, but we really needed that one tonight.”

The coach certainly wasn’t second-guessing his decision to insert Anderson into the lineup for Game 3.

“He has the ability to (score some big goals), that’s for sure,” Perry said.

“He wasn’t in Game 1 or Game 2 and that could go one of two ways, he could have either pouted or felt sorry for himself, or capitalized on his opportunity and that’s exactly what he did and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Another addition to the lineup was blue-liner Thomas Sefton, an affiliate player who was making his first appearance in the series.

“He played a fantastic game for us, he was really good,” Perry said.

The coach was also happy to see two of the team’s big guns, Svarich and Clark, hit the scoresheet.

“Svarich got us one early and Clark got us an empty-netter, but it is hard for those guys,” Perry said.

“They are playing them tough, they are playing them strong, but we count on them to produce. It is, obviously, a good sign when those two guys are scoring for us.”

The Rock don’t necessarily count on Beard to score goals, but the coach was pleased to see him net his first of the playoffs, as well.

“He has been so great, all season long,” Perry said. “He wins every single race to every single loose puck. He is strong, a great skater and shows up every day to do his job.

“I liked his game even before he scored that goal, he was just so good.”

There was no shortage of other Rock players earning a little extra praise, either.

“I thought Brant Romaniuk played a really tenacious game, did a little better job of managing the puck than he did in Game 1 or Game 2,” Perry said.

“Nolan Ring shows up every single night and competes. Felix Cadieux-Fredette, what more can we say about him. Everybody, honestly, just everybody played a solid, ugly road hockey game.”

Boivin stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his third win of the playoffs.

Dirracolo, who turned aside 34 of the 36 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Anderson, Boivin and Dirracolo … The Rock went 0-4 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 365 … Game 4 of the series will be played at the Powassan Sportsplex, on Monday, at 7 p.m. Game 5 will be played back in Timmins, at the McIntyre Arena, on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel