The Timmins Rock are ready to roll on the national stage after being crowned Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) champions.
The Rock’s journey through the NOJHL playoffs began with a convincing 4-1 victory series over French River, followed by a clean sweep of Powassan in the semifinals. In the NOJHL final, the Rock defeated the defending champs, the Soo Thunderbirds, in six games to capture the Copeland-McNamara Trophy for the first time since the club relocated back to Timmins in 2015.
“It was an incredible ride and by no means was it easy. Our guys played unbelievable and I couldn't be more proud of them,” says Brandon Perry, head coach and general manager of the Rock.
Despite being unranked for the first few weeks of the CJHL Top 20, Timmins steadily climbed up the rankings, peaking to ninth in the last ranking of the season.
“The first couple of months, we didn't come out as strong as we wanted to,” says Perry. “We didn’t feel that team reflected our record and we just needed to get going a bit.”
Get going they did. The club finished the season with a record of 48-8-3-2 and atop the NOJHL standings. Leading the way offensively was the dual threat of Nicolas Pigeon and Brady Harroun. The linemates were a force to be reckoned with, combining for 203 points — Pigeon had 81 assists and Harroun had 50 goals — on the season.
“You got Brady as the shooter and you got Nick as the pass-first guy and it just seemed like they were the perfect fit right from the start,” says Perry. “For Brady, most nights he would just have to get open and Nick would find him.”
Rock-solid goaltending was also a major factor in the team's success throughout the regular season and in the playoffs. With NOJHL veteran Patrick Boivin and rookie Jacob Brown between the pipes, the Rock surrendered a league-low 111 goals.
Boivin, a 19-year-old from Blind River, Ont., went 27-7-2-0 and posted a 1.98 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Brown, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound Flint Firebirds prospect, was equally good with a record of 18-1-1-2 and a goals-against average of 1.49. In the playoffs, the pair were lights-out. Boivin went 7-3 and posted a league-leading 2.10 GAA while Brown never lost in the five games he played and gave up just 11 goals.
“We really liked the combination of an older younger guy,” Perry says about Boivin and Brown, who both joined the Rock at the beginning of the season. “Those two guys were incredible all season and it's certainly the strength of our team.”
HOW THEY GOT TO PORTAGE
Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League
Quarterfinal: defeated French River 4-1 (8-2, 7-0, 3-4 OT, 4-1, 4-3)
Semifinal: defeated Powassan 4-0 (4-3, 5-0, 5-2, 5-3)
NOJHL championship: defeated Soo Thunderbirds 4-2 (4-0, 0-4, 1-4, 7-4, 3-2, 4-2)
Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 48-8-3-2 (1st in NOJHL)
Goals for: 273 (2nd in NOJHL)
Goals against: 111 (1st in NOJHL)
Power play: 76 of 276 (27.5% – 1st in NOJHL)
Penalty killing: 164 of 194 (84.5% – 2nd in NOJHL)
Longest winning streak: 12 (Jan. 13-Feb. 18)
Top 3 scorers:
• Nicolas Pigeon – 26G 81A 107P (1st in NOJHL)
• Brady Harroun – 50G 46A 96P (2nd in NOJHL)
• Kenyon Nyman – 11G 49A 60P (14th in NOJHL)
Goals for: 64
Goals against: 34
Power play: 16 for 71 (22.5%)
Penalty killing: 39 of 46 (84.8%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Brady Harroun – 9G 7A 16P
• Nicolas Pigeon – 5G 11A 16P
• Felix Cadieux-Fredette – 2G 13A 15P
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS
Sept. 26 – Not ranked
Oct. 9 – Not ranked
Oct. 16 – Not ranked
Oct. 24 – Not ranked
Oct. 31 – Not ranked
Nov. 7 – Not ranked
Nov. 14 – Honourable mention
Nov. 21 – Not ranked
Nov. 28 – 14th
Dec. 5 – 14th
Dec. 12 – 14th
Dec. 19 – 15th
Jan. 9 – 11th
Jan. 16 – 13th
Jan. 23 – 11th
Jan. 30 – 10th
Feb. 6 – 13th
Feb. 13 – 10th
Feb. 20 – 9th
Feb. 27 – 10th
March 6 – 9th