COCHRANE, Ont. – A Mahingan Decontie marker with 19.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime lifted the Timmins Rock to a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Cochrane Crunch Sunday evening in an action-packed and thrilling Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division quarter-final series contest at Tim Horton Events Centre.
With the outcome, Timmins takes the best-of-three affair 2-0 and will now meet the Hearst Lumberjacks in a best-of-seven East semifinal, with the schedule for that being announced once it is finalized.
Despite the setback, Cochrane’s season is not over as they will host the 2019 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship, April 30 – May 4, at THEC.
There they’ll join the title holders from the NOJHL, Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League with a berth to the Canadian National Jr. A Championship in Brooks, Alta., May 11-19, on the line.
Sunday’s match-up saw a fast-paced and hard-hitting opening period stay scoreless until the latter stages of the session when the visitors broke the deadlock.
After failing to capitalize on a two-man advantage, Timmins did connect at 15:51 with A.J. Campbell snapping a shot from the left of the crease past Cochrane starter Bradley Dobson, who was inadvertently knocked out of position by a falling Crunch defender.
Action in the middle stanza continued with the quick tempo, which featured both netminders, in Dobson and Tyler Masternak of the Rock producing quality saves when called upon as the guests carried the one-goal cushion into the third period.
Picking up a power play late in regulation, Cochrane collected the equalizer with 1:55 remaining in regulation off a face-off win where Zach Hayes let loose a wrist shot through a crowd from the high slot that sailed past Masternak to force OT.
Back and forth they went in OT as both clubs continued to compete at a high level.
Then with the initial extra session winding down, Timmins broke out from near their own blueline before Decontie darted into the Crunch zone, fired a shot on goal, then corralled his own rebound and lifted the game-winner over Dobson to win it and end the series.
Both goalkeepers were tremendous on a night that finished with the Rock also holding the edge in shots by a 46-32 count with Masternak picking up the win and Dobson suffering the hard-luck setback for last season’s NOJHL champions.
East Division quarter-final
No. 4 Timmins Rock vs. No. 5 Cochrane Crunch
Timmins wins best-of-three series 2-0
Game 1: Timmins 5 Cochrane 2
Game 2: Timmins 2 Cochrane 1 (OT)