GALLERY / GAME 1: MacMillan’s OT heroics lift Voodoos to win over Rock

Powassan goalie Daniel Dirracolo prepares to embrace teammate Mathieu MacMillan after his goal lifted the Voodoos to a 3-2 overtime win over the Timmins Rock at the McIntyre Arena in Game 1 of the NOJHL’s best-of-seven East Division final series Thursday night. MacMillan’s second goal of the game and seventh of the playoffs provided the margin of victory. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS, Ont. – Mathieu MacMillan’s second goal of the game 15:14 into the first overtime period lifted the Powassan Voodoos to a 3-2 win over the Timmins Rock in Game 1 of the NOJHL’s East Division final at the McIntyre Arena Thursday night.

It capped off a spirited comeback that saw the Voodoos score twice in the final two-and-a-half minutes of regulation to force overtime.

“Timmins turned it over and my teammate, Reyth Smith, made a great shot, low pad, which pretty much gave me an open tap-in, back door,” MacMillan said, describing how the play developed for his second goal of the night and seventh of the playoffs.

The Rock took a 1-0 lead during the first period of play, with Kaeden McArthur scoring his third goal of the playoffs with just under five minutes remaining in the frame.

Following a scoreless second period, the Rock doubled their lead early in the third period on Liam Wells’ power-play marker, his first goal of the playoffs.

The Rock held onto that 2-0 advantage until late in regulation when MacMillan scored the first of his two goals on the night and sixth of the playoffs with Voodoos goalie Daniel Dirracolo on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.

“It was almost the same goal, we were working in the offensive zone and the puck went up to Reyth Smith and it was another low pad shot, with another backdoor finish for me,” MacMillan said.

Just over a minute later, Tucker Shields added his third goal of the playoffs to tie things up and force overtime, setting the stage for MacMillan’s dramatic game-winning goal.

“We really wanted this game, we had been working all year for it,” he said.

“When we were down 2-0, it really motivated us to keep going and pull out the victory.”

By beating the Rock in Game 1, the Voodoos now have home-ice advantage in the series, but MacMillan and his teammates are determined to win Game 2, as well, to take command heading home for Game 3 and Game 4.

“Our start in Game 2 is going to be massive, it is going to depend on the first 10 minutes, if we can win the first 10 minutes, we will be looking good,” he said.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was disappointed with how his team lost the contest, but remains confident they will emerge victorious.

“To go down like that, it was a tough one,” he said.

“We got up 2-0 and we kind of took our foot off the gas and that was that, we just didn’t do a good enough job. I thought we dominated this game the first two-and-a-half periods. They didn’t really have an answer for us, but we got complacent.”

The coach felt heading into the series it would be a long one, given the strength of their opponent, and he doesn’t see any need to panic after the Game 1 setback.

“We will watch the video, clean up the mistakes we made, make a couple of adjustments and go back at them Friday,” Perry said.

“I don’t think anybody in our locker room thought this series was going to be over in four (games). It was unfortunate to lose this one on home ice, but we have an opportunity to get one back Friday.”

The Rock lost a pair of key contributors during Game 1 of the series, as both McArthur (upper-body) and blue-liner Kyle Trottier (upper-body) left the contest with injuries.

“McArthur is day-to-day at this point, but Trottier’s season is probably done,” Perry said.

Voodoos coach Peter Goulet was happy to see his squad emerge victorious from Thursday night’s contest.

“Our boys played hard and believed (in themselves) until the end,” he said.

“The game isn’t over until that final buzzer goes and we just kept going. The players did a great job, my staff did a great job, with a couple of little changes here and there, an unbelievable job by everybody, the whole organization.

“It was a battled out there, right from the beginning. They played hard, they came at us. Both goalies were solid.”

The coach was happy with his entire team following Thursday night’s victory.

“MacMillan was great, everyone was great, this was not a one-guy effort,” Goulet said.

“There is always a first star, second star, third star, but it takes 20 guys to win it, it takes an organization, it takes a great coaching staff, we all worked at it together.

“The boys listened and, hey, it is going to be a hell of a battle. They have a great team over there and Brandon is a great coach. I look forward to the next game.”

The coach conceded getting a win early in the series will provide his Voodoos with a little extra confidence, especially given the Rock swept all four games during the regular season.

“Of course it was important, no different than us getting the first win in Hearst (during the East Division semifinals),” Goulet said.

“You have to be ready to go every hockey game. Hearst had a great hockey team and this is a good hockey team we are playing. The other game on the other side (West Division final) was a 2-1 hockey game and that must have been a hell of a game, too.

“The final four teams are here for a reason and we have just got to keep going.”

Dirracolo, who turned aside 40 of the 42 shots the Rock directed his way, picked up his fifth win of the playoffs.

Rock goalie Patrick Boivin, who stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced, was tagged with his first loss of the playoffs.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were MacMillan, Dirracolo and Boivin … The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 1,087 … Thursday’s other contest saw the Greater Sudbury Cubs edge the Beavers 2-1 in Blind River in Game 1 of the West Division final … The Rock will host the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena in Game 2 of the East Division final on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.