BLIND RIVER – What is the difference between a 6-2 loss to the Eagles in Sault, Mich., Saturday night and a 3-1 setback against the Beavers late Sunday afternoon?
In the view of Rock coach Corey Beer, words like effort and compete level would be the suitable response.
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
“I thought our guys were unbelievable today,” Beer said.
“It was night and day compared to last night’s performance and we did it with probably one of the most dinged up lineups I have ever seen. I am incredibly proud of the way the guys competed today.
“(Defenceman) James Redmond was forced into duty and he gutted it out with a lower-body injury (suffered during Sunday night’s 6-2 loss to the Eagles). He played quality minutes and he was unbelievable.
“(Forward) Derek Seguin had to exit the game five minutes in after blocking a shot with his chin during a three-on-five penalty kill.
“(Forward) Tyler Planetta and (defenceman) Grant McClellan were puking the entire game and we had to keep a bucket behind the bench for them. Those guys are probably down 10 to 15 pounds.
“We also had a solid effort today from (forward) Linden Spencer laying down and blocking shots and (Josh) Anderson and (Will) Caston were both phenomenal on the back end.
“(Defenceman) Shawn Sloan was pressed into duty up front. You really could ask for a better performance from our guys tonight.”
Neither the Rock nor the Beavers were able to find the back of the net during the first period of Sunday’s contest.
The home side took a 1-0 lead at the 4:58 mark of the middle frame, when Michael Cabrel beat Rock goalie Eric Jackson for his first goal of the season.
The Rock battled back to tie things up at 1-1 less than seven minutes later, as Stewart Parnell scored a power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season.
Nick Richards first goal of the season, also a power-play marker, put the Beavers back in front before the end of the period, however.
And then Max Khull potted his 12th goal of the season, with the Beavers on the power play, to provide a little insurance, 5:02 into the third period.
Unlike Saturday night’s contest, the Rock were in Sunday’s game right up until the end.
“I think we hit three crossbars in the last 10 minutes of the game,” Beer said.
“We had the puck in our offensive zone most of the third period, except when we had to kill off penalties.
“Their goalie (Garrett Boyonoski) was really good and we had to fight an up-hill battle from a depth standpoint.”
Even though the Rock only had to play two-games in two nights because of the mechanical woes with the bus and the highway closure that resulted in the postponement of Friday night’s contest against the Thunderbirds, they returned home to Timmins a pretty tired group.
“The Stewart Parnell, Wayne Mathieu and Jordan Picard line probably played about 30 minutes in today’s game,” Beer said.
“Losing Derek Seguin early on did not help. Linden Spencer and Alexandre Brisson were great and (affiliate player) Austin Holmes was incredible again.
“Planetta and Sloan had to play out of their usual comfort zone and they probably contributed 15 to 18 minutes themselves.
“Planetta probably played one of his best games and he did it on half a belly’s worth of food after puking up the rest. I can’t say enough good things about the way he played tonight.”
Beer felt his squad was deserving of a better fate on Sunday.
“The scoresheet is the ultimate result and when you look at it, you go, ‘hey, we are not winning games on the road,’ but if we play games like this every night, we are going to be successful.”
The Rock will take Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday at the McIntyre Arena.
“We have to let these guys rest up,” Beer said.
“We have a lot of bumps and bruises. Stewart Parnell asked for some Advil or Tylenol after the game and we asked him where he was hurting and he said, ‘all over.’ The guys are pretty dinged up. This has been a pretty tough road trip for us.”
With the win, the Beavers (11-10-1-0) pulled to within four points of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians (13-5-0-1) and the Thunderbirds (13-5-1-0) who are tied for top spot in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.
The Rock (6-12-0-1), meanwhile, remain in last place in the East Division standings — five points behind the French River Rapids (8-12-2-0), but with three games in hand.
Boyonoski turned aside 28 of the 29 shots the Rock fired his way to pick up his sixth win of the season for the Beavers.
Jackson, who stopped 32 of the 35 shots directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Richards, Beavers defenceman Jacob Papesh (two assists) and Parnell … The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Beavers were 2-8 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Blind River Community Centre was 185 … Sunday’s other action saw the Hearst Lumberjacks dump the Rapids 7-2 in French River and the Canadians hand the Espanola Express an 8-5 setback in Rayside-Balfour … The Rock will return to action on Saturday night when they host the Elliot Lake Wildcats at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.