SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division semifinal match-up between the Timmins Rock and French River Rapids starts this evening at McIntyre Arena with a 7 p.m. faceoff.
Here’s a glimpse at the best-of-seven affair:
Timmins: 33-8-5-2 (1st NOJHL East/2nd overall)
French River: 23-24-1-0 (4th NOJHL East/8th overall)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Despite the 26-point difference in the standings between the two clubs throughout the 2021-22 campaign, their season-set was tightly contested.
In the six meetings they had, each team won three times, with French River taking three of the final four contests.
Both clubs boasted 2-1 marks on home ice while they each scored 21 goals apiece in the combined half-dozen contests.
Oct. 10: @ Timmins (4-3 Rock)
Oct. 22: @ French River (5-2 Rock)
Nov. 6: @ French River (4-2 Rapids)
Nov. 26: @ Timmins (3-2 Rock)
Dec. 3: @ Timmins (4-3 Rapids)
March 27: @ French River (6-4 Rapids)
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Timmins Rock vs. French River Rapids
Game 1: Thursday, April 7 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 2: Friday, April 8 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 3: Sunday, April 10 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 4: Monday, April 11 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 5*: Wednesday, April 13 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Friday, April 15 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 7*: Sunday, April 17 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
THE ROCK: Timmins earned the No. 1 seed in the NOJHL East after winning the tightly-contested division title under league coach of the year, Brandon Perry.
Boasting a solid line-up in all areas, the Rock are led by their captain, Tyler Schwindt.
The veteran forward finished tied for third in NOJHL scoring with 64 points with his 34 goals, four of which were game-winners, being the third-most in the league as well.
Another over a point-per-game player on the team is Riley Brousseau.
He was seventh in league offensive numbers with 57 points in 48 outings on 19 tallies and 38 helpers.
Then there was Nicolas Pigeon, who collected 47 points, with a dozen markers and 35 assists to his credit.
On the back-end, Timmins sees second team NOJHL All-Star Cameron Dutkiewicz and Bode Dunford leading the way there.
Dutkiewicz possesses a powerful shot that helped him score 18 times from the point, as part of his 43 points that saw him finish third in offensive production among league defencemen.
As for the play-making Dunford, he doled out 29 assists and scored eight times in his 45 games played.
Goaltender Gavin McCarthy led the NOJHL in wins among netminders with 23 and sat fourth in goals-against average at 2.53 and tied for eighth in save percentage at .902.
THE RAPIDS: One thing the Rapids could do, is score. They finished third in the NOJHL in goals-scored this season with 197, trailing only the Rock (225) and the Hearst Lumberjacks (217).
They advanced to take on the Rock by defeating the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in two straight in the East play-in series by scores of 4-1, at home, and 5-2 on the road.
A total of 15 different skaters registered at least one point in the two-game sweep of Kirkland Lake, led by Abram Snider’s three.
Netminders Cole Sheffield and Justin Dilauro each picked up a win in the triumph over the Gold Miners.
During the regular season, French River was paced offensively by a four-pack of highly-skilled forwards, in Chase Lefebvre, Cooper Bowman, Levi Siau and Dominik Godin, who all had 50-plus point campaigns.
Lefebvre (29g-37a-66pts); Bowman (25g-31a-56pts) and Siau (19g-37a-56pts) all finished in the Top 10 in NOJHL scoring, while Godin (35g-17a-52pts) was 11th in the league.
Of note, Siau finished second overall in league game-winning goals this season with seven.
Griffin Simpson (5g-26a-31pts) and Adam Boucher (7g-21a-28pts) were their top two point producing defencemen.
Sheffield led all Rapids’ goaltenders in wins with 13, along with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
UP NEXT: The squad that takes this series meet either the Hearst Lumberjacks or Powassan Voodoos in the best-of-seven East Division Final.
WHERE TO WATCH: All NOJHL playoff games can be viewed online via HockeyTV.com.
Photo credit: Denis Larose/DAL Photography