There was lots of positive energy in the northern portion of the NOJHL this weekend.

Saturday night saw one of the best games in recent memory in Iroquois Falls and a Timmins Rock victory to extend a lengthy home winning streak.

And then Sunday happened.

For context, the defending NOJHL Champion Powassan Voodoos (23-3-1-1) nabbed two of three games in their first northern swing of the season. First, they took an 8-2 win in Hearst (11-12-1-0) Friday, lost a 5-4 double overtime decision to the Cochrane Crunch (17-9-1-0) at the Jus Jordan Arena and won a 5-2 game in Timmins (10-15-1-1) Sunday over the Rock.

We’ll start with that Sunday game, as the game was overshadowed by controversy. Enough that a member of the 728 in attendance hurled garbage onto the ice at one point.

It started great for the Rock—going for their ninth straight home win—with comedian Gerry Dee in the house.

They snagged a 2-0 lead going into the second period and 2-1 going into the final frame. But tensions were high with some intense hitting and a Tyler Planetta game misconduct late in the second.

In the third, the game completely fell off the rails as North Bay-based officials Evan McCrory and Matt Walters became the lightning rod for the fans after a slew of penalties and misconducts were called against the home team. Even Rock Head Coach Corey Beer was ejected for arguing a too many men on the ice penalty.

Monday morning, the NOJHL came down on the Rock, suspending Beer for two games for a “travesty of the game” gross misconduct and forward Jace Soroko was dinged with three games and a $150 fine for a game misconduct penalty called in the final 10 minutes.

Many fans disagreed with the calls, and some of the non-calls too. And in the end, the stat line showed the Voodoos scoring three times on ten power play chances. The Rock went scoreless on four opportunities.

The Voodoos scored twice on the man-advantage in the final period, and added a penalty shot goal late too.

The 5-2 goal with just over three minutes to go also saw starter Eric Jackson injured on the play, enough to require a trip to the Timmins and District Hospital and it’s unknown how long he could be out of action.

Jackson made 31 saves before Timmins Majors call up Jordan Yaremchuk came in to finish the contest.

AJ Campbell and Planetta provided the early offense for the Rock, who lost at The Mac for the first time since September 22nd.

Post-game, the tensions were still high in the Rock locker room area. So high that media—who usually conduct interviews in front of the referees room located at the bottom of the steps where the Rock come on to the ice—was moved down the hallway near the Rock dressing room.

Without commenting directly on the officiating, Goalie Coach Marc Bisson admits the parade to the penalty box late is “probably where they lost that momentum” but adds the second period play was a factor too.

“I think at the start of the second, we kind of lost the first five minutes. We kind of slowed down there and weren’t doing the things that why we were successful in the first,” he said, “Credit to (Powassan), they probably did a few adjustments after the first period and I think we still had a very good second period.”

Bisson also credited the great play as of late by other call ups, notably former Voodoo and now-Timmins Major Dryden Rivet, who toughed out a few blocked shots on the PK.

Nonetheless, they’ll host the the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (12-12-3-1) Wednesday night. Puck drop at 7:00pm.

The Rock started the weekend with a 5-1 win over those same Gold Miners Saturday night.

Jace Soroko, Jordan Picard, Seth Reuben, Campbell and Planetta each scored a goal in the win, while Jackson turned aside 20 of 21 shots.

As mentioned, the Crunch took an overtime victory over the Voodoos Saturday night 5-4, with captain Connor Lovie providing the heroics in front of 162 fans in Iroquois Falls.

It was quite the contrast from Sunday as the aforementioned McCrory and Walters were the officiating tandem in what turned out to be a thrilling back-and-forth affair for both of the top two teams in the East Division.

Austin Stauffer and Haiden Karnick got first period goals, but the Voodoos took a 4-2 lead into the third.

In the third, Thomas Hernandez and Mitchell Booth scored 23 seconds apart to force the extra frame.

Taylor Unruh stopped 32 of 36 shots and assisted on Lovie’s winner, an accurate wrister down the right wing side.

They started the weekend strong too, defeating Kirkland Lake 4-0 Friday night with Shayne Battler stopping 10 shots for the shutout.

Filed under: Local News, local-sports