GALLERY: Banner-worthy performance helps Rock top Gold Miners

Timmins Rock forward Josh Russell distributes a pass as linemate Harry Clark looks on in the background. Russell had a goal and an assist and Clark added three assists as the Rock went on to defeat the Kirland Lake Gold Miners 5-1 at the McIntyre Arena Friday night. They will now host the Soo Thunderbirds at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 3 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

After stumbling out of the gate on the road last weekend, the Timmins Rock treated their fans to a banner-worthy performance during the home opener at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

Part of the pregame festivities saw the Rock unveil their 2022-23 NOJHL championship banner to the delight of 1,087 fans.

Once the puck dropped, it didn’t take the Rock long to take control of the contest they would go on to win 5-1 over the visiting Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.

Rock forward Harry Clark, who set up three of his team’s five markers, was more concerned with the two points his team earned in the standings.

“It was definitely important to get that first win under our belts,” he said.

“Hopefully, we can just keep rolling from here on out.”

After the Rock opened their 2023-24 NOJHL campaign with a 5-2 loss in Greater Sudbury and a 6-5 overtime setback against the Vikings in Elliot Lake, Clark noted they needed Friday night’s victory.

“After the second period, we kind of regrouped and understood we were in the same position, up two, that we had been in Elliot Lake,” he said.

“So, we knew what we had to do and that we couldn’t let up at all and we got it done.”

Clark played on a line with Liam Wells and Nolan Ring Friday night and he actually had a couple of excellent scoring opportunities, as well.

“The goalie (Connor Davis) won that battle tonight, but it was nice to set up some linemates,” Clark said.

“Hopefully, I will get some goals sometime.”

Clark has one goal on the season, but his six assists puts the 2023 NOJHL playoff MVP in the team lead in points, with seven.

Blue-liner Kyle Trottier notched his first goal of the season at the 4:11 mark.

And Josh Russell increased the advantage to 2-0 just past the midway point of the opening frame when he scored his third goal of the season — a marker that would stand up to be the game-winner.

It took just nine seconds for Liam Wells to make it a 3-0 hockey game once the puck dropped to start play in the middle frame, as he netted his second goal of the season.

The Gold Miners finally got the on the scoreboard nine minutes later, as Noah Woodard scored his second goal of the season, after a scramble in front of the Timmins net.

That marker seemed to provide the Gold Miners with some momentum, as they went on to outshoot the Rock 19-13 in the period, but Timmins goalie Patrick Boivin shut the door on the visitors.

Kaeden McArthur’s second goal of the season, midway through the third period, restored the Rock’s three-goal advantage.

And Nolan Ring provided the icing on the cake when he added an empty-net goal, his first tally of the season, with 1:29 remaining on the clock, to close out the scoring.

The Rock won all 12 encounters against the Gold Miners in 2022-23, but Clark who was attending university before returning to the team in February was not in a position to compare the team they faced Friday night with that earlier version of the squad.

“I wasn’t here for any of the games against K.L. last year,” he said.

That said, Clark noted there appears to be a lot of balance in the NOJHL this season.

“It is going to be a lot tougher, with every team a lot closer,” he said.

“So, it is going to be important to kind of focus on one game at a time.”

Clark likes what he has seen from the Rock early on, even though there record was just 1-1-1-0 after Friday night’s victory.

“It all starts with Patrick Boivin making some really important saves for us, like he did in this game,” he said.

“Our defence blocks shots and makes plays and up front we have a lot of guys with a lot of talent who can put the puck in the net and make passes. We are a pretty complete team.”

Boivin, who turned aside 30 of the 31 shots he faced, picked up his first victory of the season.

Davis, who blocked 36 of the 40 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Rock forward Harry Clark (three assists), Russell (one goal, one assist) and Trottier (one goal) The Rock have acquired 2004-birth-year forward Jack Anderson from the Belle Tire, of the 18U ‘AAA’ in exchange for a player development fee. He is 5-11, 175 pounds, and is a right-hand shooting Waterford, Mich., product … The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 0-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 1,087 … Friday’s other action saw the Lumberjacks defeat the Elliot Lake Vikings 5-3, the Storm edge the Soo Thunderbirds 4-3 in overtime in Iroquois Falls and the Voodoos squeak past the Blind River Beavers 2-1 in Powassan … The Rock will return to action on Sunday when they host the Thunderbirds at the McIntyre Arena, at 3 p.m.