By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
POWASSAN – The Timmins Rock’s four-game winning streak was snapped Friday night as the Voodoos completely shut down the visitors’ high-flying attack.
Goalie Nate McDonald made 34 saves to earn his third shutout of the season and have the Voodoos their first victory over the Rock in three attempts this season.
With the win, the Voodoos remain tied with Cochrane Crunch — who earned a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wildcats in Elliot Lake Friday night — atop the NOJHL East Division standings. Each team has 27 points on the season, with the Voodoos having played one more game.
Friday’s loss drops the Rock’s record to 11-4-0-0 and with 22 points on the season, the third-place club now has a three-point advantage on the Gold Miners who edged the French River Rapids 5-4 in Kirkland Lake Friday night. The Rock still have three games in hand, however.
Rhys Brown scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal just 1:52 into the first period when he beat Rock goalie Matthew Nixon for his third marker on the season.
The Voodoos increased their lead to 4-0 with just over four minutes remaining in the opening frame when Andy Baker scored his 16th goal of the season.
Three unanswered second-period goals allowed the Voodoos to take total control of the hockey game.
Gary Mantz beat Nixon for his 10th goal of the game, a power-play marker, at the 7:19 mark of the frame.
Defenceman Dayton Murray added another power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season, less than two minutes later.
Baker then potted his second goal of the game and NOJHL-leading 17th of the season with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second period.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the final 20 minutes of play even though the Rock fired 17 shots at McDonald in hopes of trying to get back into the hockey game.
The Voodoos goalie stood tall, however, and picked up his eight win of the season.
Nixon, making his third-straight start for the Rock, turned aside 31 of the 36 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
The Rock will continue their two-game road trip Saturday night when they travel to French River for a game against the Rapids.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Baker, McDonald and Tyson Gilmour, son of former NHL star Doug Gilmour … Newly acquired defenceman Patrick Gazich played his first game in a Rock uniform Friday night, wearing No. 7 … The Rock went 0-9 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 2-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 195 … Friday night’s other NOJHL game saw the Eagles derail the Espanola Express 12-3 in Sault, Mich.