TIMMINS, Ont. – Eric Jackson stepped in to make his first start of the playoffs Monday for the Timmins Rock and proceeded to turn aside all 32 shots he faced to shutout the Cochrane Crunch 2-0 in Game 3 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division Final in front of 1,428 raucous fans at McIntyre Arena.
With the result, Cochrane’s lead in the best-of-seven match-up is trimmed to 2-1 as the two sides now gear up for Game 4 Wednesday back in Timmins at 7 p.m.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Rock picked up the eventual game-winner early in the second period during a two-man advantage as defenceman Jared Hester whipped one past Cochrane starter Taylor Unruh from inside the blueline at 1:55.
The home side added to their cushion nine minutes later as veteran forward Wayne Mathieu fired one that eluded Unruh for his fifth of the playoffs.
Jackson did the rest as he stymied the Crunch throughout to register his first league postseason shutout.
Unruh faced 31 shots in suffering his first loss of the playoffs.
In being blanked, it marked the first time since October 11 that Cochrane has been kept off the scoresheet when they dropped a 3-0 decision to the Soo Thunderbirds at the NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury.
East Division Final
No. 2 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 5 Timmins Rock
Cochrane leads best-of-seven series 2-1
Game 1: Cochrane 6 Timmins 2
Game 2: Cochrane 3 Timmins 1
Game 3: Timmins 2 Cochrane 0
Game 4: Wednesday, April 4 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 5: Friday, April 6 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 8 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game7*: Tuesday, April 10 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
*- if necessary
Photos courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)