Canadians edge Rock in OT

SUDBURY — Defenceman Ryan Mooney’s power-play marker at the 2:15 mark of overtime lifted the Rayside-Balfour Canadians to a 3-2 win over the Timmins Rock at the Chelmsford Arena Thursday night.

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The extra session started with the Canadians on the power play after Rock captain Derek Seguin was assessed a double-minor penalty for high sticking with two seconds remaining in regulation.

Then, 50 seconds into overtime, Rock blue-liner Eric Moreau was sent off for boarding, setting up a five-on-three advantage for the Canadians and Mooney made the visitors pay when he beat Timmins goalie Jean-Marc Brisson for his seventh goal of the season.

While Rock coach Corey Beer was happy to see his team escape with a single point, he was frustrated they were unable to secure a second point in regulation.

“There are different ways to look at it, I guess,” he said.

“The problem is we were up 2-1 and one of our veteran defencemen made a bone-headed play, turned the puck over and it ended up in the back of our net.

“It was completely avoidable. It is fine we got the one point, but we should have had the two in my opinion. It is upsetting from that standpoint.

“You think, okay we have got veteran players on the ice and the game should be locked down, but it wasn’t.”

The coach was even more frustrated that his squad gave the Canadians a five-on-three opportunity that the home side was able to capitalize on.

“Segs got the high sticking call, which was kind of unfortunate because it was on the follow through of a shot,” Beer said.

“His stick came up and connected with a guy and cut him. That was the initial call. Then, the next one was a boarding call, or a hit from behind, whatever you want to call it.

“It was a stupid, needless penalty. That resulted in the five-on-three and once that happened, we were toast. If it had remained a four-on-three, I think we might have stood a chance to kill it off.”

Following a scoreless first period, the Canadians got on the board first Thursday night when Evan Krassey netted his 11th goal of the season 40 seconds into the middle frame.

That lead held up until the 14:36 mark of the second period when Seguin found the back of the net for his 24th goal of the season to tie things up at 1-1.

The score remained deadlocked until the 13:31 mark of the third period when Seguin netted a power-play marker, his second goal of the game and team-leading 25th of the season to put the Rock in front 2-1.

The Canadians were able to get back on even terms just over three minutes later, however, when Giordano Biondi beat Brisson for his 13th goal of the season to tie things up at 2-2 and force overtime.

The Rock have been able to secure at least a point in both of their games since the end of their Christmas break on Tuesday, but given how tight the East Division standings are right now, Beer realizes just how important every point is down the stretch.

“We are at a point right now where we feel we are a very good team,” he said.

“We just can’t be throwing away any points. This is not a game of moral victories for us. Our guys need to understand it is great to get a point on the road and you have to look at it as a positive, but we also have to realize we have thrown away a point and that is not acceptable for top-end teams.”

The Rock’s decision to start Brisson in net instead of No. 1 goalie Tyler Masternak Thursday night wasn’t just about getting him in a game and keeping him sharp.

“It was a bit of a revenge game setup since he had been released by Rayside-Balfour earlier in the year before we picked him up,” Beer said.

“This was an opportunity for him to play against his former team and I thought he was outstanding for us. He gave us every chance to win tonight. It was great to see him play some good hockey. It is too bad we couldn’t pull out the victory for him.”

The coach was pleased with the effort put forth by a number of other Rock players in Thursday night’s contest, as well.

“It took us 20 minutes to wake up tonight, for whatever reason,” Beer said.

“We were a little sloppy in the first period, but as the game went on I thought the line of Seguin (Riley) Robitaille and (Riley) Brousseau was dynamite and then (Josh) Dickson, (Keegan) McMullen and (Gage) Tremblay, those six guys really gave us some offensive punch shift-in and shift-out.

“That was really huge for us.

“On the back end, the pairing of (Carson) Burlington and (Gregory) Arnburg is slowly becoming our No. 1 pair. They were absolutely outstanding. Their compete level was off the charts. The hold tight gaps all the time and I have been blown away by how good those two guys have been.

“Arn has been a great acquisition for us and Burls certainly isn’t playing like a 16 year old right now.”

Beer was impressed by what he saw from Canadians goalie Sebastien Plamondon, who hails from Timmins.

“He looked fairly good in there,” he said.

“We tested him fairly often and unfortunately we just weren’t able to get enough pucks by him. Credit to him, he got the win.”

Thursday night’s contest was the Rock’s last regular-season game against a West Division opponent.

“Because we only play them twice each season, I think it can affect the start of the games sometimes,” Beer said.

“There is no built up rivalry, no hatred. There are no tendencies you have picked up on from previous games. There just isn’t any built up animosity.”

The only way the Rock will face the Canadians again this season would be if both squads advance to the NOJHL finals, once the playoffs get underway.

“If we go on the type of run we want to go on, we are going to be facing one of these teams,” Beer said.

“Rayside-Balfour made it to the finals last year and they have a great hockey team. They are physical and they know how to play us that way. They execute soft chips and plays into space.

“If we are lucky enough to get the chance to pay these guys again, we are going to have to be ready for it.”

Despite the overtime loss, the third-place Rock (23-14-3-0) pulled to within two points of the second-place Cochrane Crunch (24-14-0-3) in the East Division standings and Timmins still has a game in hand.

Meanwhile, the victory allowed the second-place Canadians (24-16-1-2) to remain eight points back of the West Division-leading Soo Thunderbirds (29-9-0-1).

Plamondon, who stopped 22 of the 24 shots the Rock directed his way, went the distance in net for the Canadians to pick up his 11th win of the season.

Brisson, a former Canadian, turned aside 35 of the 38 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss for the Rock.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Mooney, Plamondon and Brisson … The Rock did not dress forwards Tyler Hutchinson (lower-body injury) and Darcy Haupt (undisclosed) … The Rock went 1-1 on the power play, while the Canadians were 1-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Chelmsford Arena was 223 … The auction for the throwback Timmins Northstars jerseys worn by the Rock during Tuesday night’s 6-3 win over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners opens on Friday. Fans can bid on the jerseys, which will be autographed by the players who wore them by visiting … Thursday’s only other game saw the West Division-leading Thunderbirds dump the Espanola Express 4-1 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will return to action Tuesday night when they host the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.