SUDBURY – Despite making a number of moves in recent weeks designed to kick start their offence, the Timmins Rock continued to have difficulty putting the puck in the net on Day 1 of the NOJHL Showcase.
As a result, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians skated off with a 3-0 victory under the watchful gaze of a number of scouts.
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
“I thought our compete level was there today,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.
“Rayside-Balfour was obviously game knowing we beat them (3-1) at home on Friday. They were out to exact some revenge and they played a good game.
“It was a pretty tight-checking game both ways, but we just didn’t have any puck luck around the net.”
It’s not like the Rock were vastly outplayed on Tuesday afternoon.
“There were numerous times when we had good possession and we felt good about our game,” Beer said.
“When you are snake-bit sometimes around the net everyone starts pressing a bit more and sometimes they squeeze their sticks a bit too tight. I am hopeful our guys will get back on track tomorrow.”
With only 25 goals to their credit in 12 games this season, on two other squads in the 12-team league — the Hearst Lumberjacks and the Espanola Express — have scored fewer goals than the Rock this season.
It should be noted, however, the Lumberjacks, with 23 goals on the season, have played five fewer games than the Rock and the Express, with 15 goals to their credit, have a pair of games in hand on Timmins.
An inability to score on the power play has certainly not helped the Rock’s offensive woes this season, either.
After failing to put the puck in the net on six power-play opportunities Tuesday, the Rock now 6-68 with the man advantage and they have surrendered a pair of shot handed goals.
Only the Express, 3-48 (6.3%), have a more dreadful efficiency rating on the power play than the Rock’s 8.8% success rate.
“Our power play had its chances again today, but we were just unlucky,” Beer said.
“(MacKenzie) Savard was terrific in net for them, as was Erik Jackson for us. We had lots of shots on the power play, but we were just hitting the goalie on the chest or on his pads.
“Some of the most elite power plays have a plethora of talent, but that is something that is hurting us right now. We don’t have that elite goal scorer to put one in the back of the net and ice it.
“Our power play has good possession and we get good chances. We are just not able to capitalize. Our guys are going to have to keep working at it and hopefully we will eventually be the beneficiary of some good bounces.”
Savard was unbeatable Tuesday afternoon at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.
James White’s sixth goal of the season, at the 4:26 mark of the opening period, proved to be the game winner.
Jacob Partridge added a little insurance when he beat Jackson for his third goal of the season midway through the second period to make it a 2-0 hockey game.
The Rock pulled Jackson late in the third period in an effort to get the two goals they needed to get back on even terms, but the Jett Leishman iced the victory when he deposited his first goal of the season into the empty Timmins net.
Tuesday marked the fourth time in 12 games the Rock have been shutout this season.
“The biggest thing we have got to understand is the sky is not falling every day,” Beer said.
“In hockey, you win games and you lose games. It’s how you respond. We were in that game today right to the very end. If a couple of bounces had gone our way, maybe we are the ones who come out with the win.
“We have to get right back on the horse tomorrow and hope we get the bounces we want. There is no time to sit and dwell on it. Rayside-Balfour didn’t feel sorry for us and Espanola certainly won’t feel sorry for us tomorrow.
“We have to go out there and take care of business and stick to our game plan.”
With Tuesday’s victory, the Canadians (7-4-0-0) moved into third place in the West Division standings, while the Rock (4-7-0-1) remain in last place in the East Division standings.
Savard stopped all 32 shots the Rock fired his way to earn his sixth win and first shutout on the season for the Canadians.
Jackson turned aside 25 of the 27 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss for the Rock
Tuesday’s other early action at the NOJHL Showcase saw the Cochrane Crunch blank the Blind River Beavers 3-0, the Soo Thunderbirds edged the Hearst Lumberjacks 3-2, the Elliot Lake Wildcats dump the French River Rapids 5-2 and the Powassan Voodoos hung on to defeat the Express 5-4.
The Rock will take on the Express in their final game of the NOJHL Showcase on Wednesday in a 4 p.m. start at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.