By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
ESPANOLA - The Timmins Rock capitalized on three power-play opportunities to stop the Express 5-1 at the Friday night.
It was the first game of a two-game weekend road trip that will see the Rock make a stop in Rayside-Balfour for a game with the Canadians Saturday night.
Missing two of their leading scorers — forwards Tristan Salesse and Jordan Rendle — the Rock jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead and never looked back.
Zachary Kercz scored his 13th goal of the season, an unassisted marker, at the 3:08 mark of the opening frame to put the visitors in front.
Wayne Mathieu then netted his second goal of the season with just 58 seconds remaining in the period to send the Rock to the dressing room for the first intermission with a 2-0 advantage.
Devin Panzeca’s 11th goal of the season, scored on the power play, was the lone scoring play in the second period and the Rock headed into the final 20 minutes with a 3-0 lead.
Mitchal Payette’s first goal of the season, just 19 seconds into the third period, got the Express on the scoreboard and ruined Rock goalie Matthew Nixon’s bid for his first NOJHL shutout.
Cole Gilligan’s first goal of the season, scored on the power play with just under five minutes to play in the game, restored the Rock’s three-goal advantage.
Defenceman Joe Olson’s first goal of the season, also scored on the power play, less than two minutes later made the final score 5-1 in favour of the Rock.
Nixon made 35 saves to record the win for the Rock, while Express goalie Aaron Callan turned aside 29 Timmins shots and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock went 3-9 on the power play, while the Express were 0-4 with the man advantage ... Official attendance at the Espanola Regional Recreational Complex was 175 ... Friday’s other NOJHL action saw the Iroquois Falls Eskis drop a 6-2 decision to the Wildcats in Elliot Lake and the Powassan Voodoos extend their season-opening winning streak to 14 games by defeating the visiting Blind River Beavers 8-3.