VIDEO / GALLERY: Pigeon’s four-point afternoon helps Rock blank Rapids

Timmins Rock goalie Jacob Brown goes into the butterfly to stop a shot off the stick of French River Rapids forward Connor Picard during the second period of Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Brown stopped all 15 shots he faced to earn his sixth shutout of the season as the Rock blanked the Rapids 8-0. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Captain Nicolas Pigeon’s four-point afternoon helped the Timmins Rock blank the French River Rapids 8-0 at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – Captain Nicolas Pigeon’s four-point afternoon helped the Timmins Rock blank the French River Rapids 8-0 at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday.

It was the fourth-straight win for the Rock and their 16th in the past 17 games in the wake of their 6-3 triumph over the Soo Eagles at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

The four-point effort left Pigeon one shy of the century mark on the season.

The Aylmer, QC, product was at a loss for words when asked what recording 100 points would mean to him.

“I am just focused on the game,” he said.

“It would be a hell of an honour to do it with the teammates I have this year.

“It’s my third year in the league, but I don’t know … just game by game, I guess.

“It’s just the W that matters and that the boys are playing right.”

And Pigeon’s linemate, Brady Harroun, is just five goals shy of the 50 mark for the campaign after he scored twice in the one-sided contest.

“It would be more impressive for him to get 50 goals (than for me to get 100 points,” he said.

“He has an elite shot, but he is a great guy in the (dressing) room, also.

“To have him on my line is incredible.”

With regular linemate Lucas Piekarczyk with an injury (day-to-day), Nolan Ring filled in as the third member of the line during the weekend, after Yan Bessette had been in that spot in recent games.

“We have a deep team this year,” Pigeon said.

“The same thing goes off the ice, too. The boys are always hanging out together. We are so tight in the room and that reflects on the ice.

“We are comfortable playing with anyone on this team.”

From a team perspective, the Rock (42-7-3-2) also inched closer to clinching top spot in both the NOJHL’s East Division and overall standings.

Following Sunday’s action, the Rock have a seven-point lead on the Lumberjacks (40-11-2-0) in the East Division, although Hearst has one game in hand, and a three-point cushion on the West Division-leading Greater Sudbury Cubs (42-10-2-0).

“It would mean a lot for us to finish first overall,” Pigeon said.

“It is what we are focused on right now as the first step toward our main goal (winning an NOJHL championship).

“It (having home-ice advantage) would be huge for us in the playoffs.”

The Rock were in control of Sunday afternoon’s contest from start to finish, building up a 3-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Bessette’s first of two goals on the afternoon and 20th of the season got the Rock on the scoreboard at the 4:19 mark of the opening period.

Nicholas Frederick followed with his 19th goal of the campaign shortly after the midway mark in the frame.

And Evan Grigor added his seventh goal of the season 49 seconds later.

The Rock scored three more goals in the second period to double their advantage to 6-0.

Bessette’s second of the afternoon and 21st of the season, a power-play marker, got the puck rolling.

Pigeon followed with an unassisted marker, his 23rd goal of the season, and seven minutes later added his second tally of the afternoon and 24th of the campaign.

Rapids starting goalie Matthew Perdue received the hook after the first of Pigeon’s two goals, with Ben Gustafson coming on in relief.

A pair of Harroun goals, his 44th and 45th of the season, eight minutes apart in the third period closed out the scoring, leaving the final 8-0 in favour of the home side.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry returned to his normal spot behind the bench Sunday afternoon, having completed his three-game suspension Friday night.

“I thought we did a really good job today,” he said.

“There weren’t very many negatives. Obviously, there are times when you think we could have been a little cleaner but it was a pretty solid effort out of our group.”

While the coach is pulling for Pigeon to hit the 100-point plateau and for Harroun to reach the 50-goal standard, he stressed the focus remains on team accomplishments.

“We are just focused on winning games,” he said.

“I hope they get it and I think there are enough games left for them to do it, with the pace they have been on all season, but I think they would tell you the same thing, we are focused on winning games.

“We are just taking one game at a time, thinking about Friday now.”

There were a number of Rock players who caught their coach’s eye Sunday afternoon.

“(Bessette) has been great since he has been back,” Perry said.

“He is a strong kid, got good hands, a good shot and a knack for finding good spots in front of the net.

“He is not afraid to go to the blue paint. He was brought in here to provide some secondary offence and that is exactly what he is doing.

“Nolan (Ring) has been so great all season long and he has had a hunger about him the last two or three weeks. He has elevated his game to a new level.

“I thought Tenzin Nyman was great this afternoon, not just on the defensive side of the puck. He was moving across the blue-line really well and getting his shots through.

“He was sharp and had a really good game.

“Up and down our lineup, I thought everybody was good. Brownie (goalie Jacob Brown) was solid when he had to be.

“Christophe Petit was so good back there on the blue-line. He has been so good all season, blocking shots on the PK (penalty kill).

“Another guy we talk about a lot because of how good he is, is Kenyon Nyman who was fantastic this afternoon. Every game when I single players out, he could be one of them.”

Brown stopped all 15 shots he faced to earn his sixth shutout of the season, leaving him tied with teammate Patrick Boivin and Blind River netminder Charlie Burns for the NOJHL lead, and his 17th win.

Perdue, who turned aside 21 of the 26 shots the Rock directed his way in his 30:53 of work, was tagged with the loss. Gustafson blocked 16 of the 19 shots he faced in his 29:07 of relief.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars on Sunday were Pigeon, Harroun and Brown … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play Sunday, while the Rapids were 0-2 with the man advantage. Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday was 689 … Sunday’s other action saw the Paper Kings dump the Powassan Voodoos 4-1 in Espanola and the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners double up the Crunch 6-3 in Cochrane … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they take on the Crunch at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls, at 7 p.m. The next home game will be on Friday, March 17, when the Rock host the Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel