Teammates converge on Timmins Rock forward Alexandre Brisson, centre, to help celebrate his first-period goal during Tuesday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Brisson’s second goal of the season, a power-play marker, put the Rock in front 2-0 in a game that would see them go on to defeat the Cochrane Crunch 7-5. The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they host the West Division leading Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – After failing to score a goal in two-straight games, the Timmins Rock took out their frustrations on the Cochrane Crunch Tuesday night at the McIntyre Arena.
The line of Stewart Parnell, Alexandre Brisson and newcomer Connor Hoffmann did most of the damage as the Rock dumped the Crunch 7-5.
Parnell and Hoffman each scored twice and added an assist, while Brisson scored once and set up a pair of goals.
“On the first goal, I came down on a one-on-two and I knew I was going to dump the puck or shoot and I saw the defenceman pull to the side and it gave me a nice screen,” said Hoffmann, whom the Rock acquired from the Casper Coyotes, of the WSHL.
“The goalie really couldn’t see anything, so I just shot for the top right corner. That’s my corner and the puck went in, so I am really grateful.”
Officially listed at 6-1 and 192 pounds, the right-hand shooting 1999-birth-year forward from Ponoka, Alta., brings an element of size to the Rock lineup.
“On my second goal, I was able to get a nice shot on the net and the puck crept in behind the goalie and it went in. It was a really greasy one.”
With only one practice under his belt, Hoffmann likes what he has seen from his new teammates.
“We have a great group of guys and it is really easy to get comfortable,” he said.
“Everyone treats everyone else like a brother in the dressing room and whenever you have a great group of guys like that, it is easy for a newcomer to slide in and become part of the team.”
Not even in his wildest dreams did Hoffmann expect to have a three-point night during his first game in a Rock uniform.
“I never expected things to go this good, but I am thrilled,” he said.
“But I would never have been able to have a night like this without the help of all my teammates.”
Hoffmann is hoping to build upon his first-game success as the season moves forward.
“I am a big guy, so I will bring some size to the lineup,” he said.
“I am a hard worker and I like to forecheck hard. I like to play a nitty-gritty game and I think I can really help this team.
“Hopefully, we will be able to have a really successful season.”
The Rock’s goalless streak officially came to an end at the 12:03 mark of the first period when Donny Schultz scored his first goal of the season and the home side’s first power-play marker in 19 opportunities in 2017-18.
Brisson’s second goal of the season, also a power-play marker, increased the Rock lead to 2-0 less than three minutes later.
The Crunch battled back to knot things up at 2-2 before the end of the period, however.
Kyle Podwika netted his second goal of the season to cut the deficit to one goal and then Austin Stauffer added his third goal of the season to tie things up at 2-2.
The Rock reclaimed the lead just over a minute into the second period, when Hoffmann netted his first goal in a Rock uniform.
Less than three minutes later, defenceman James Redmond added his first goal of the season to make it a 4-2 hockey game.
Then, 55 seconds later, Parnell potted his first goal of the season to chase Crunch starting goalie Taylor Unruh from the net.
Josh Barrett came on in relief and the move appeared to give the visitors a little momentum.
Kyle Herbster scored his second goal of the season midway through the middle frame to pull the Crunch to within two goals and then Stauffer added his second of the night and fourth of the season to make it a one-goal game.
The momentum swung back in the Rock’s favour, however, when Hoffmann added his second goal of the night with just over a minute remaining in the second period to increase the Rock advantage to 6-4.
Nicholas Flanders power-play marker, his first goal of the season, at the 6:19 mark of the third period again pulled the Crunch to within a goal of the home side.
Parnell’s second goal of the game just over a minute later restored the Rock’s two-goal lead, however, and made the final score 7-5.
Rock assistant coach James Daschuk was happy to see his squad finally put the puck in the net with some consistency Tuesday night.
“We knew we could do it, it was just a matter of pulling the trigger,” he said.
“I don’t think our not being able to score in the last couple of games was because of a lack of chances.
“Getting seven goals tonight definitely feels good, especially against a team like Cochrane. We knew we had to battle tonight and we played this home game a little bit like a road game.
“It wasn’t pretty, but after two games of not scoring, we will definitely take it.”
Almost as important was the fact the Rock were finally able to capitalize on the power play Tuesday night.
“It definitely wasn’t something we were bragging about,” Daschuk said.
“We worked on it at the end of practice on Monday. We knew something had to be done. We went with a simpler power play tonight and got lots of shots on net and got traffic in front of their goalie.
“Getting a couple of power-play goals tonight took a big load off our backs.”
Daschuk was impressed with the play of Hoffmann, as well as a number of other Rock players Tuesday night.
“We didn’t get a chance to see him on the ice that much, but we put him in there and ran a few players him and hoped for the best,” he said.
“He definitely brought a bigger body to the lineup, something we had been lacking, as well as a lot of intensity and grit.
“Stewart was fantastic, even without those two goals. He looked like one of our best players tonight. I was happy to see him have a breakout game.
“Brisson had a great game, as well. You don’t keep those two guys off the scoresheet for two long.
“Those two guys love games like this. They love going to war and they kind of get high from the intensity.”
Defenceman Grant McClellan picked up three assists in the contest and was a force at both ends of the ice.
“We rode a few guys like Grant with some very big minutes tonight, knowing we have a few days off,” Daschuk said.
“He was fantastic tonight and (James) Watier logged more than 30 minutes tonight of ice tonight. I thought our back end, overall, was very solid tonight.”
Cochrane Crunch coach and general manager Ryan Leonard was not pleased with the effort put forth by his squad Tuesday night — especially when it came to its lack of discipline.
“You can’t start the game taking five minor penalties in a row,” he said.
“It just takes any flow out of your game. We took five real dumb penalties in a row. We did the same thing against the Thunderbirds in Game 1 and we did the same thing in Kirkland Lake the other night.
“We were able to get back on track, but every time we got close our goalies let in a weak goal. Unruh lets in a goal on a wrist shot from the blue-line.
“Then, the second shot on Barrett, on a long shot, squeaks between his legs and their guy puts the puck in an open net. That can’t happen at this level.
“The only opportunity we gave them in the third period, an outside wrist shot, goes in again and that shouldn’t happen in this league, either.”
Leonard wasn’t just pointing fingers at his netminders for the Rock’s seven-goal outburst.
“You can’t put all of the blame on the goaltenders,” he said.
“Our defence was not existent at times. They were running all over the place.
“When you score five goals, you should win a hockey game.
Leonard was pleased with the play of a number of his veteran forwards.
“Austin Stouffer played great tonight,” he said.
“(Nicholas) Flanders played great. Herbster played great. You can tell all three of those guys are veterans.
“Kyle Podwika, Josh Roberts and Alex Brisson were great tonight, as well, but we had a few passengers, too.
“We expect them to play a little harder, but tonight when they got opportunities to get some shifts, they got scored on.”
Rock goalie Erik Jackson blocked 27 of the 32 shots he faced to pick up the victory.
Despite stopping 11 of the 13 shots the Rock fired his way in relief, Barrett was tagged with the loss for the Crunch. Unruh, who started the game, stopped 14 of the 19 shots he faced before getting the hook.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Parnell, McClellan and Hoffman … The Rock did not dress defencemen Jared Hester (serving the first game of a three-game suspension) and Will Caston (upper-body injury), as well as forwards C.J. Bradburn (lower-body injury), Halen Cordoni (healthy scratch) and A.J. Campbell (healthy scratch) … The Rock were 2-8 on the power play, while the Crunch were 2-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 768 … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they host the West Division leading Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.