Photo Credit: Freeze Frame Photos
A Nicolas Pigeon tally in the latter stages of the second period held up as the game-winner to help the Timmins Rock defeat the Soo Thunderbirds 4-2 Sunday, April 30th and win the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy championship at John Rhodes Community Centre.
With the outcome, the Rock takes the best-of-seven series 4-2 and will move on to represent the NOJHL at the Centennial Cup Canadian Jr. A championship, May 11-21, in Portage la Prairie, Man.
This marks the first league title for a Timmins-based franchise since back in 1995 when the then Golden Bears accomplished the feat.
Gaining the initial edge in Sunday’s contest, the visiting Rock skated to a 2-0 lead after one period of play on a pair of the markers in the back half of the session.
Harry Clark, who was named playoff MVP, put Timmins ahead at 12:54 as he wheeled into the Sault Ste. Marie zone, then pulled up in the left circle and whipped a quick shot past Thunderbirds’ starter Landon Miller.
Adding another three and a half minutes later, the league’s leading scorer during the course of the regular season, Brady Harroun, potted his sixth of the playoffs, off a turnover behind the net that allowed Lucas Piekarczyk to backhand a feed into the slot where the open Rock forward quickly finished off his glorious opportunity.
Moving to the middle stanza, the Rock went up by three at 15:14 when Piekarczyk used a give-and-go with captain Pigeon moving to the front of the net and lifting a shot over Miller’s glove from between the circles.
Getting one back before the second intermission, the T-Birds clicked on the power play when Brodie McConnell-Barker sent a feed across to a waiting Michael Chaffay, who patiently waited and snapped an attempt over the outstretched pad of netminder Patrick Boivin.
Staying 3-1 Timmins into the third, the Soo pulled to within one with just over four minutes remaining thanks to Jackson Truchan, who powered his way along the right side, then cut around a Rock defender in close and lifted one over Boivin’s glove.
Getting their goalie out in the late going for an extra skater in an attempt to notch the equalizer, the Soo pushed to tie it, but the Rock pushed a play out of their own zone, which allowed Nicholas Frederick to race in alone and salt away the victory into an empty net in the final moments.
Timmins first game at the Centennial Cup will be against the Maritime Hockey League title holders, the Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners, on Friday, May 12 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Yarmouth steamrolled MHL opposition in the playoffs, going 12-0, in a trio of four-game series postseason sweeps.
Timmins Rock vs. Soo Thunderbirds
Game 1: Rock 4 Thunderbirds 0
Game 2: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 0
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Rock 1
Game 4: Rock 7 Thunderbirds 4
Game 5: Rock 3 Thunderbirds 2
Game 6: Rock 4 Thunderbirds 2
Timmins wins best-of-seven series 4-2