SUDBURY, Ont. – Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff action resumes tonight on three fronts, including the No. 1 seed Powassan Voodoos hosting the Timmins Rock at the Powassan Sportsplex in Game 1 of their East Division semifinal.
This marks the second-straight year the two sides will meet in the postseason.
The clubs met in the 2017 East Final with Powassan sweeping the series as part of their impressive 12-0 playoff run en route to the league championship.
Here’s a look of this years’ best-of-seven affair.
HOW THEY ARRIVED: It was another impressive regular season for the defending NOJHL title-holding Voodoos.
They finished first overall in the 12-team standings for a second straight year as they reeled off 45 wins and 94 points.
Timmins meanwhile was fifth in the East Division and they advanced after taking a best-of-three quarter-final match-up vs. the first-year Hearst Lumberjacks, that went the distance.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: These two clubs met a total of eight times during the 2017-18 campaign with Powassan having a big edge as they won seven times while the other ended up in a double overtime draw.
Three of the contests did go to OT however while another was decided by just one goal.
The Voodoos outscored the Rock 36-21 in those eight encounters.
NOJHL Rookie of the Year Harrison Israels supplied two of the game-winning markers for Powassan while both of teammate Dylan D’Agostino’s tallies vs. the Rock were also the difference maker.
POINT PRODUCERS: CCM Hockey 1st Team All-Star Tyson Gilmour led all Voodoos’ skaters in offensive production against Timmins as he scored twice and helped set-up 11 more for 13 points.
Israels and Shane Beaulieu were next with nine points apiece with Israels notching a club-best eight goals.
Another rookie in Quintin Loon-Stewardson was close by with eight points to his credit.
Timmins’ top point-getter in games against Powassan was Jordan Picard as he registered eight against them, which featured a team-high five tallies.
C.J. Bradburn was next with a seven-point effort while Derek Seguin and Tyler Gilberds had four each.
On the season, the Voodoos produced three skaters who finished in the Top 10 in NOJHL scoring.
Gilmour was third overall with 78 points while Israels ended up tied for sixth with 69 and Beaulieu was ninth with 67.
Cameron Moore’s 41 points led all Powassan blueliners and tied him for second among all league D-men.
Pacing the Rock in the series win over Hearst was veteran forward Wayne Mathieu, who had five points.
Of note, both of Evan Kentish-Stacks’ goals against the Lumberjacks were the game-winners, including one in OT in the series opener.
In regular season play, Pickard’s 41 points paced his squad with Jared Hester leading the Rock defencemen group with 19.
THE GOALTENDERS: Between the pipes, Powassan’s Christian Cicigoi boasted a league-best 23 victories to his credit as the first-year goalkeeper went 23-3-0-2 overall.
You also had Julian Galloway going 10-3-0-1 in 15 appearances for the club.
Tyler Masternak and Eric Frances combined for 18 wins for the Rock during the campaign with Masternak starting all three games in his club’s triumph over Hearst.
His 1.62 goals-against average and .959 save percentage led all NOJHL netminders in first round playoff competition.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Both sides did have success on the power play against each other on the year with the Voodoos scoring 11 times in 57 opportunities vs. the Rock while Timmins went nine for 48 on the man advantage against Powassan.
WHAT’S NEXT: The winner of this series will meet the survivor of the Cochrane Crunch – Kirkland Lake match-up in the best-of-seven East final.
East Division semifinal
No. 1 Powassan Voodoos vs. No. 5 Timmins Rock
Game 1: Friday, March 16 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Game 2: Saturday, March 17 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Game 3: Tuesday, March 20 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre)
Game 4: Wednesday, March 21 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre)
Game 5*: Friday, March 23 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Game 6*: Sunday, March 25 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre)
Game7*: Tuesday, March 27 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
*- if necessary
All NOJHL playoff games are streamed online at HockeyTV.com.
With files from NOJHL Statistician & Historian David Harrison
Photo courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)