Powassan Voodoos goalie Julian Galloway got just enough of the puck on this first-period shot with his glove hand to deflect it just wide of the post. Galloway made 29 saves to backstop the Voodoos to a 3-2 win over the Rock — their third victory during their three-game swing through the North. The Rock are off now until Thursday, Jan. 4, when they will travel to Cochrane for a game with the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock learned once again the hard way Sunday afternoon at the McIntyre Arena that to beat a team like the Powassan Voodoos, you have to play 60 minutes of hockey.
No, the NOJHL does not award teams two points for leading hockey games after 40 minutes and 42 seconds. If it did, the Rock might not have suffered the 3-2 loss that close out the home side’s pre-Christmas schedule.
Up 2-1, Rock forward Derek Seguin took a two-minute minor penalty for hooking in offensive zone 19 seconds into the third period.
And 24 seconds later Voodoos forward Shane Beaulieu netted a power-play marker, his 15th goal on the season, to tie things up.
Fans, still smarting from a 5-2 loss to the Voodoos the last time Powassan visited the McIntyre, were still hopefully the Rock would be able to force overtime and secure at least a single point against the NOJHL-leading Voodoos.
Those hopes were dashed, however, when Dylan D’Agostino scored his 14th goal of the season with just 3:41 remaining in regulation.
The Rock pulled goalie Eric Jackson in favour of an extra attacker in the dying minutes of regulation, but they were unable to net the equalizer they needed to force overtime.
“They are the best team in the league for a reason,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.
“They have so many weapons and they can come at you at any time. You blink sometimes and the game can turn around that fast.
“I thought our first two periods were good. Our third period, we shot ourselves.”
Beer was not happy with a number of the penalties the Rock took Sunday afternoon.
“That has been our story the last little bit,” he said.
“Penalties 200 feet from our net, where there is no real threat of the other team scoring against us, have really hurt. They are lazy penalties, hooking, tripping, stuff like that.
“It happened today with a young player and you hope he learns from it.
“Did we want to win today? Absolutely, we would have loved to have stolen a point off those guys, but we will use it as a learning experience and try to grow from it in the new year.”
Another thing that stuck in Beer’s craw was the shorthanded goal the Rock surrendered in the contest.
“It was a selfish play by one of our players on the strong-side wall,” he said.
“He turned the puck over, stood there and wanted somebody else to bail him out.
“I thought we bounced back from it, but sometimes when our guys are out there on the power play they think because we have an extra man they don’t have to work as hard.
“It is the exact opposite. You actually have to work harder than the penalty kill because they know they have urgency out there.
“There is a reason our power play is one of the worst in the league. We practise it and we work on stuff, but until guys fully understand they have to outwork the opposition, it is never going to get better.”
It was the Rock who found the back of the net first on Sunday afternoon, as Riley Robitaille scored his third goal of the season late in the first period to give the home side a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Voodoos were able to get back on even terms at the 7:04 mark of the second period, as Brett Hahkala raced in all alone and stuffed the puck under Jackson for a shorthanded marker, his seventh goal of the season.
The Rock regained the lead five-and-a-half minutes later when former Voodoo Tyler Gilberds scored a power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season and second in a Timmins uniform.
The score remained 2-1 in favour of the home side heading into the third period, but the Rock were not able to close the deal.
Despite the loss, there were a number of Rock players who impressed their coach Sunday afternoon.
“You can start with Eric Jackson,” he said.
“How can you argue with how good that kid plays? He is one of those guys who shows up every night. You can say the same about (Tyler) Masternak’s play Saturday night, too.
“Our goaltending has been great.
“Up front, Linden Spencer, Evan Kentish-Stack and Wayne Mathieu gave us a great effort all day.
“I thought Tyler Gilberds got his game going a bit later on, as well. He had a little bit of a slow start, being a younger guy, but I thought he got his game up to speed pretty quick.
“There were a lot of passengers at times, but when you are playing a team with that much talent, it is almost about weathering the storm, more than anything.”
The Rock who have endured their share of injuries — and then some — during the first half of the season, saw Spencer hobble off the ice after blocking a shot in the third period.
“I think it is just a little bruise,” Beer said.
“He got it right on the knee cap, I think, but it was a big-time block. You have to be able to do those things on the penalty kill, and Spencer and Kentish-Stack are our first rotation.
“They are extremely good at it and they know how to take away the opposition’s best players.”
Beer was once again impressed by what he saw from the Voodoos Sunday afternoon.
“The game plans installed by their team and our team certainly made for some entertaining hockey to watch,” he said.
“The job Beau (Moyer) does there with Powassan and the adjustments they made on the power play was top notch. It gave us fits on the penalty kill.”
Moyer was happy to see his squad wrap up a three-game swing through the North with a record of 3-0-0-0.
“Corey had his team very well prepared and it was a tight-checking affair,” he said.
“Our guys really had to dig deep and find it within themselves to get their feet moving and compete that much harder.
“We have confidence in our whole group. The coaching staff can throw different guys out there in different situations.
“I am very proud of how our leadership group pulled the boys together after the second period to have that belief.”
Moyer once again liked what he saw from new Voodoos goalie Julian Galloway.
“He was very good Friday night in Cochrane, as well,” he said.
“He was making those first saves. You can’t really fault him on either goal he gave up. We are definitely getting good goaltending out of Julian and Christian Cicigoi.”
The coach also had a little extra praise for a couple of other Voodoos.
“I think D’Agostino’s play all weekend has been a key to our success,” Moyer said.
“He plays with high energy and he plays with speed. He is the type of guy we lean on for both power play and penalty kill.”
With Sunday afternoon’s victory, the Voodoos (28-3-1-2) were able to maintain their 12-point lead over the Cochrane Crunch atop the NOJHL’s East Division standings.
Despite the loss, the Rock (13-20-1-2) remain in fourth place in the East Division, one point ahead of the Lumberjacks (13-6-2-0) — although Hearst still has five games in hand.
Galloway turned aside 29 of the 31 shots the Rock fired his way to pick up his second victory in two starts in a Voodoos uniform.
Jackson stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced and he was tagged with the loss for the Rock.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Galloway, Robitaille and D’Agostino … The Rock did not dress defencemen Jared Hester (lower-body injury), James Redmond (upper-body injury) and Eric Paquette (lower-body injury), or forwards Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury and A.J. Campbell (serving a one-game suspension for a second goaltender interference penalty he was assessed in Saturday night’s 7-0 win over the Espanola Express) … Both the Rock and the Voodoos went 1-6 on the power play Rock forward Jordan Picard and Voodoos forward Quinton Loon-Stewardson were ejected from the game after they were each assessed five-minute majors for fighting and game misconducts … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 765 … Sunday’s other action saw the Crunch double up the Lumberjacks 6-3 in Cochrane and the Beavers dump the French River Rapids 5-2 in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Thursday, Jan. 4, when they travel to Cochrane for a game with the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre. The next home game will be on Sunday, Jan. 7, when the Rock host the Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.