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GALLERY: T-Birds edge Rock in OT

Rock blue-liner Felix Cadieux-Fredette chases down Soo Thunderbirds forward Cooper Foster behind the Timmins net during Saturday night’s NOJHL contest at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The Rock dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the West Division-leading Thunderbirds. The Rock will host the Greater Sudbury Cubs at the McIntyre Arena on Monday, at 3 p.m. BOB DAVIES/NOJHL NETWORK

The Timmins Rock picked up three of a possible four points during a two-game weekend road trip, thanks in part to the timely scoring of captain Tyler Schwindt.


Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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SAULT STE. MARIE — The Timmins Rock picked up three of a possible four points during a two-game weekend road trip, thanks in part to the timely scoring of captain Tyler Schwindt.

Twenty-four hours after scoring the game-winning goal to lift the Rock to a 5-4 win over the Soo Eagles, Schwindt scored the game-tying goal that forced overtime in Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Thunderbirds.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry clearly wasn’t happy with the way his squad started Saturday night’s contest, but liked what he saw from his squad during the third period.

“We wanted more, but it wasn’t the worst (outcome in the world),” he said.

“I don’t think we were at our best the first 40 (minutes). Give them credit. They played really hard, a lot of pressure. We haven’t seen that kind of pressure in a long time.

“During that first 40, I thought we felt a little bit like we were better than we are at times.

“They just came really hard and we weren’t prepared to do the hard things and get back quicker for pucks.

“We found a way in that third period to find our game, put it together and ended up tying it up.

“If we started on time and played the first 40 like we played the last 20, I think we would have liked our chances.

“I just thought we were chasing the game all night. It wasn’t indicative of who we are. We are a team that wants to control the pace in games, like we have done many times this season.”

The Thunderbirds took a 1-0 lead in the first period, thanks to Dharan Cap’s power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season.

That goal stood up until former Thunderbirds blue-liner Cameron Dutkiewicz, a Timmins native, notched his 13th tally of the season just shy of the six-minute mark of the middle frame.

Andrew Gibson’s 17th goal of the season, 1:12 into the third period, restored the Thunderbird’s one-goal advantage.

With goalie Gavin McCarthy on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Schwindt found the back of the Thunderbirds’ net for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season to tie things up at 2-2 with 1:21 remaining in regulation.

Any hopes Rock fans had of a second-straight OT victory were dashed, however, when Colby Arbour netted his fourth goal of the season at the 3:04 mark to lift the Thunderbirds to the 3-2 victory.

The Rock will get another shot at the Thunderbirds on March 12, when they make their lone trip to the McIntyre Arena.

“I think it is just a 60-minute effort, that’s all it is,” Perry said, when asked what it would take for the Rock to win that contest.

“There was nothing special. They just outworked us for the first little bit tonight. They didn’t overwhelm us with skill, or speed, or systems.

“We didn’t give up a lot of chances. We just weren’t hard on pucks. We weren’t there to support one another in the battles in the corners. It was always just one guy working by himself.”

There weren’t a lot of Rock players who impressed their coach Saturday night.

“I thought Cameron Dutkiewicz played a good game tonight, coming back against his old team,” Perry said.

“I could tell he really wanted that one. I thought he was good but there wasn’t much more to be honest with you.

“Some guys were good in spurts, like Tyler Schwindt has a knack of scoring big goals for us. He got the game-tier.”

Despite the logistics of crossing the border into the United States Friday night, playing a game and then crossing back into Canada, the coach was not about to use that as an excuse for Saturday night’s effort.

“The (15) guys who played last night played a ton of minutes, obviously,” Perry said.

“Maybe they were a little fatigued, but no excuses. We are a better team but we just didn’t show up for the full 60 minutes tonight.”

Affiliate player Aiden Wilson made his debut on the Rock blue-line during the weekend road trip and the 6-3, 205-pound, right-shooting Whitby native didn’t look out of place.

“He plays U18 for Whitby,” Perry said.

“One of our guys who does some scouting down south put him on our radar, so we got him on an AP card and we were just looking for a time to bring him up here, get him some minutes, get him some experience, kind of show him what our program is all about.

“I thought he played great last (Friday) night with the minutes he got. We had five D back there.

“He stepped in and did a good job in all situations. He has an incredible first pass. He is a big kid and he moves well. We were really impressed.”

Wilson dressed for Saturday night’s contest, as well, but did not see any action.

He won’t be in uniform for Monday afternoon’s contest with the Cubs, however, as he has rejoined his U18 squad for the remainder of their season.

Noah Metivier turned aside 38 of the 40 shots the Rock directed his way to pick up the victory for the Thunderbirds.

McCarthy, who stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.

ROCK 5 EAGLES 4 OT

Schwindt’s goal 22 seconds into overtime lifted the Timmins Rock to a 5-4 victory over the Eagles at Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Friday night.

That was certainly an impressive outcome considering the circumstances surrounding the Rock’s first and only trip into the United States during the 2021-22 NOJHL campaign.

“We only played with 15 guys,” Perry said.

“We left six guys on the Canada side. We just didn’t want to roll the dice, with them testing positive.

“Then they would have to quarantine for 10 days and we have five games this week.

“It just wasn’t worth the risk.”

The Rock jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead Friday night, thanks to a Nicholas Frederick power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season, and Nolan Ring’s sixth tally of the campaign.

Henry Brock’s ninth goal of the season, at the 13:27 mark of the middle frame, extended the Rock advantage to 3-0, but the Eagles battled back to pull within a single goal before the end of the period.

Trevor Davis got the Eagles on the scoreboard when he tallied his fourth goal of the season 38 seconds after Brock’s marker.

Seth Ferguson then added a power-play marker, his 13th goal of the season, with just under three minutes remaining in the frame.

Nicolas Pigeon scored his ninth goal of the season at the 2:47 mark of the third period to put the Rock in front 4-2.

While it appeared at that point the Rock would secure their 25th victory of the season in regulation, a five-minute major penalty for spearing assessed to Timmins forward Christopher Engelbert provided the Eagles with the opportunity they needed to force overtime.

Ferguson, with an unassisted power-play marker, his second tally of the night and 14th of the season, got the puck rolling and Nicholas Castillo followed with a second man-advantage marker, his 10th goal of the season just as Engelbert’s penalty expired to tie the game at 4-4.

“We were good last (Friday) night, man,” Perry said.

“Our passion, our will to win and compete given all the hoops we had to jump through all day, with testing … we crossed the border at 10 a.m., we skated in the morning, then we went and got tested, took two hours, went back for our pre-game meal a little later than we thought, then we came back across the border, got held up at the border for an hour and a half, we didn’t get the rest we wanted, just got back to the hotel, put out suits on and went back across.

“I just thought our professionalism and our will to win, just wanting to compete with a short bench, then we get a bad call against us, a five-minute major at the end and still found a way to win.”

That “bad call” resulted in Engelbert being assessed a four-game suspension that kept him out of Saturday night’s contest.

“The league recommended to the NOHA (Northern Ontario Hockey Association) that it get rescinded but we didn’t get word on their decision before the game tonight, so he sat out one of four tonight,” Perry said.

“We are going to wait to hear back. Hopefully, they will overturn it.”

Rock goalie Konrad Simard blocked 33 of the 37 shots he faced to pick up his sixth win of the season.

Eagles netminder Ryan Gilmore, who stopped 25 of the 30 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of Saturday night’s contest were Metivier, Arbour and Dutkiewicz, while Schwindt, Ferguson and Castillo were honoured Friday night … In Saturday night’s contest the Rock went 0-10 on the power play, while the Thunderbirds were 1-6 with the man advantage. Friday night, the Rock went 1-7 on the power play, while the Eagles were 3-7 with the man advantage … Saturday’s other action saw the Rapids knock off the Powassan Voodoos 5-3 in French River, the Greater Sudbury Cubs dump the Crunch 5-2 in Cochrane, the Red Wings triple the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 6-2 in Elliot Lake and the Soo Eagles edge the Beavers 3-2 in overtime in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Monday when they host the Cubs at the McIntyre Arena, at 3 p.m.