GALLERY: GAME 1 – Clark nets pair of goals to ignite Rock attack

Timmins Rock forward Harry Clark backhands a shot past Iroquois Falls Storm goalie Connor Hatfield for one of his two third-period power-play goals during Game 1 of their East Division semifinal series at the McIntyre Arena Friday night. Clark’s goals helped lift the Rock to a 5-1 victory over the Storm. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Harry Clark scored a pair of goals and set up another to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 5-1 win over the Iroquois Falls Storm in Game 1 of their best-of-seven East Division semifinal series at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS, Ont. – The Rock’s lethal power-play — tops in the NOJHL during the regular season — proved to be even more deadly Friday night, converting on three of five opportunities.

It took just 2:49 to have an impact on the contest, as Jack Kelly drilled a shot past Storm goalie Connor Hatfield for his first goal of the playoffs, with the Rock on the power play.

The Storm were able to get back on even terms before the first intermission, however, as Timmins product Patrice Lafontaine drilled a shot past Rock goalie Patrick Boivin for his first goal of the playoffs at the 13:26 mark.

Mason Svarich scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his first of the playoffs, midway through the second period.

Three unanswered third-period tallies allowed the Rock to put the game away.

Clark’s first of two goals on the night, a power-play marker, made it a 3-1 hockey game 4:27 into the third period.

Brant Romaniuk added an unassisted marker, his first goal of the playoffs, just over four minutes later.

Clark’s second goal of the game, also a power-play marker, closed out the scoring seven minutes later.

“This was the first playoff game for a lot of our young guys, so there were a lot of nerves at the start but, I thought the back half of this game was one of the best games we have played as a team,” Clark said.

“We finished our checks, won battles and got pucks on net. I thought it was a great performance by everyone.”

Clark agrees it will be important for the Rock to stay out of the penalty box against the Storm.

“That’s going to be key to winning this series, keeping our heads on straight and not getting into that stuff, not taking stupid penalties,” he said.

“When they take penalties, we have to capitalize on our opportunities on the power play.”

Clark had a great deal of success playing on a line with Svarich and Romaniuk during the regular season and the trio was flying Friday night.

“It is real easy to play with those two guys, they are always making hard plays, nice passes,” he said.

“On my second goal, Brant found me backdoor and it was an easy tap in.”

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was happy with the final score Friday night, but not so much with how his squad started the contest.

“I thought it took us a little while to get going,” he said.

“You have to give them a lot of credit, they came out hard, played a tough style of game and things weren’t easy at the beginning of the game. We needed to play a little quicker and I thought that’s what we did in the back half of the game.”

The coach clearly liked what he saw from his No. 1 line of Clark, Svarich and Romaniuk Friday night.

“They were great tonight,” he said.

Another Rock skater who impressed the coach Friday night was Kelly, who was strong at both ends of the ice.

“He has been playing really good, especially in the last four or five games,” Perry said.

“We need him, he is a big part of this team and that’s why we brought him in here. He is a big body and he is strong on pucks.”

The coach also liked what he saw from his blue-liners Friday night.

“They were really good, all six of them,” Perry said.

“It was so nice to have Kyle Trottier back in the lineup. He adds so much to our lineup, but all six of those guys back there were really good.

“I thought everyone was solid in the back half of this game, it was a gritty team win.”

If the coach has one wish for Game 2 of the series it would be to have his team start on time.

“We just need to find out game quicker, play with a ton of speed and pace, be harder on pucks,” Perry said.

Boivin stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to earn his first win of the playoffs.

Hatfield, who turned aside 36 of the 41 shots the Rock directed at him, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Clark, Kelly and Svarich … The Rock went 3-5 on the power play, while the Storm were 0-2 with the man advantage … Rock forward Jaden Lyons left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 1,096 … Friday’s other action saw Lumberjacks edge the Powassan Voodoos 6-5 in Hearst to even their series at 1-1 and the Soo Thunderbirds fly past the Cubs 3-2 in overtime in Greater Sudbury to even their series at 1-1 … The Rock will host the Storm in Game 2 of their best-of-seven East Division Semifinal series at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 3 p.m.