TIMMINS, Ont. – Rebounding from an early deficit, the Timmins Rock countered with eight unanswered goals, including five on the power play, to defeat the French River Rapids 8-2 Friday in the opener of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division semifinal at McIntyre Arena.
The upset-minded Rapids made an early statement by striking less than a minute in, after Matthew Hill won a draw back to Adam Boucher at the point whose attempt towards the target leaked through Rock netminder Patrick Boivin at 49 seconds.
French River kept it going and tacked on another to go up by a pair before the game was five minutes old.
That tally saw Nolan Masson whip a shot from between the circles past Boivin, with help from Brandon Melsness.
A penalty deep in Timmins territory proved costly for the Rapids as the home side was quick to capitalize when the NOJHL’s leading goal-getter in the regular season went to work with his first of the playoffs as Brady Harroun beat Brady Dyer from the right circle with a crisp snap shot six seconds into the man advantage.
Netting the equalizer 5:44 into the middle stanza, the Rock drew level thanks to Nolan Ring, who lifted in a loose puck laying at the top of the crease before Dyer could get to it.
Timmins then went on top moments after a man advantage they were one had expired when Felix Cadieux-Fredette cranked a shot from up high that hit off the end boards and came out the other side of the net where Ryan Armitage banked it in from a sharp angle.
Taking their 3-2 lead into the third period, special teams helped the Rock put the game away as they connected twice on a pair of two-man advantages midway through the frame to go up by three.
Justin Charette got the first one as he guided in a cross-crease feed from Kenyon Nyman.
Still up a couple of skaters, Harroun notched his second of the evening by lifting in a Lucas Lowe slapshot that got away from him, but went right to his teammate.
A fourth power play marker helped add to the onslaught as Nyman sent an attempt from the point that sailed through a crowd and found its way into the net at 12:38.
Continuing to click, another man advantage effort came when Evan Grigor dashed down the left wing and put one by Dyer.
Grigor then capped off the outburst with a shorthanded marker after he swiped the puck off the French River goaltender behind the goal line then cruised in front and sent it into the open side.
Game 2 goes Saturday back in Timmins at 7 p.m., and on HockeyTV.com.
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Timmins Rock vs. French River Rapids
Game 1: Rock 8 Rapids 2
Game 2: Saturday, March 25 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 3: Monday, March 27 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 4: Tuesday, March 28 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 5*: Thursday, March 30 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Saturday, April 1 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 7*: Monday, April 3 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Timmins leads best-of-seven series 1-0
Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network