THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock forward Darcy Haupt deflects a shot on Kirkland Lake netminder Dawson Rodin as Gold Miners blue-liner Justin King looks on during the second period of Wednesday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. The Rock overcame a 2-0 deficit and went on to defeat the Gold Miners 5-2 — extending their winning streak to six games and snapping Kirkland Lake’s at seven games. The Rock will host the Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena on Saturday night.
Captain Derek Seguin scored a pair of goals to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 5-2 win over the NOJHL-leading Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday night.
It was the sixth-straight win of the season for the Rock, who ended the Gold Miners mark of seven-straight victories in the process.
As importantly, it was the first win in five attempts for the Rock against the Gold Miners this season.
It also allowed the Rock (10-4-1-0) to move into a second-place tie with the Voodoos (10-3-1-0) in the East Division standings — allow Powassan has a game in hand.
The Rock and the Voodoos trail the Gold Miners (12-3-0-0) by just three points.
Rock coach Corey Beer admitted Wednesday night’s victory might have been the biggest his team has earned to this point in the 2018-19 campaign.
“They are a very tough opponent,” he said.
“Having suffered four losses in a row coming into this one, we had our work cut out for us.
“We know how good of a team they are and we looked at it like this: It was game 15, we had a tough opponent and we had a job to do and we went out and did it.
“So, hats off to our guys. They did a great job tonight. We still have to play them a few (five) more times.”
Things did not start off well for the Rock Wednesday night, as they fell behind 1-0 in the first period despite outshooting the Gold Miners 9-5.
Gregory Trudeau-Paquette beat Rock netminder Tyler Masternak for his ninth goal of the season at the 2:33 mark of the frame.
The Gold Miners expanded their lead to 2-0 early in the second period, as Hunter Foreshew netted a power-play marker, his third goal of the season, with just eight seconds remaining in Matt Capisciolto’s double-minor for spearing.
It took the Rock just 50 seconds to get that one back, as Seguin netted the first of his two goals on the night and eighth of the season.
“I had walked up the wall and made a criss-cross play with (Rock defenceman) Will Caston,” Seguin said.
“He threw it on net and I happened to curl backdoor and it was a nice, easy tap in for me.”
Seguin’s second goal of the game and ninth of the season at the 4:53 mark of the third period tied things up at 2-2.
“Riley Robitaille and I were working down low, I popped out and he gave me a nice pass in front and I just tucked it over the goalie’s shoulder,” Seguin said.
Just 47 seconds later, A.J. Campbell scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his third tally of the season to give the home side its first lead of the hockey game.
The Rock got a little bit of insurance with just under two minutes remaining in the third period when Keegan McMullen added his fifth goal of the season.
Then, to add insult to injury, Riley Brousseau chipped in with his fourth goal of the season 22 seconds later to make the final score 5-2 in favour of the Rock.
Seguin isn’t too sure why he, Robitaille and McMullen have had so much success early in the season.
“We had a lot of line matching tonight, so we were switching up the lines constantly,” he said.
“It just kind of happened that we scored when we were out there together. Maybe it is chemistry. Maybe it is hard work. The puck just seems to go in for us.”
The captain doesn’t feel Wednesday night’s victory is any more important than any of the other victories the team has earned on its current six-game winning streak.
“Honestly, I don’t think it was all that important,” Seguin said.
“We try to go out there with the same mentality every day, whether it is a game or a practice. We are playing hard and we are playing our systems and the puck has started bouncing our way.
“We just want to keep working hard and ride the streak for as long as we can.”
Even when the Rock fell behind 1-0 and 2-0 in the contest, they were still playing good hockey.
“It was so important for us to stick to the game plan,” Beer said.
“Our guys are really understanding that more and more as we go along here.
“Things can happen. You can be down 3-0, but if you stick to the game plan, you are going to get your opportunities.
“Our guys were talking on the bench tonight about not getting too high, or too low.
“If we get a penalty against us, we will kill it off. I really like our maturity level right now.”
The coach continued to mix and match his forward lines Wednesday night, but the combination of Seguin, Robitaille and McMullen — when they were together — proved to be an effective unit.
“Derek does everything for us,” Beer said.
“He kills penalties. He plays on the power play, takes defensive-zone face-offs, offensive-zone face-offs.
“He makes his wingers better and I have to point out Riley Robitaille in that third period was a man possessed. That’s what we need to see from him. When he is on his game, he can be one of the most dominant players in this league with his size and skill level.
“He set up that goal and really put this team on his shoulders in that third period.
“That whole line was fantastic and it was great to see.”
Forward Josh Dickson, who has struggled to find his offensive game for much of the season, also caught his coach’s eye Wednesday night.
“This was arguably his best game,” Beer said.
“His feet were moving and he was flying out there. He had lots of jump and I couldn’t play him enough. He was terrific and very engaged on the bench, too, very vocal.
“As the game went on, he looked more and more dangerous as he got the puck on his stick. He played good defence, as well.
“He has been up at the top of the lineup, he has been down and he has been out of it, so for him to keep ticking sends a message to everyone else who might be down on their luck or down on their game.”
The coach also noted it was nice to see Masternak finally put an end to the NOJHL Player of the Week Curse that had seen every Rock goalie so honoured go out and play a terrible game after earning the accolades.
It had happened to Masternak earlier this season, Eric Jackson last season and in previous campaigns to Albert Rogers, Matthew Nixon and Logan Ferrington.
“Masty had a limited work load tonight and he gave up a couple of goals, but he found a way to win the game,” Beer said.
“For him to do that shows mental toughness. He did a great job. He would go stretches of 10 minutes without a shot he had to be keyed in for that next one, or maybe a barrage of them in a minute and a half.
“When it came time for him to make the big save, he was great for us tonight.”
The coach was again pleased with the effort put forth by his blue-line corps.
“The big guys, who run the power play, get all the accolades, but there were two guys tonight including one (Luka Bolduc) who got benched pretty early on because of a bad miscue,” Beer said.
“He came back and played great hockey. The other one is Eric Moreau. He is kind of the unsung guy back there. He does everything really well and he had good gaps tonight.
“Those two guys eased the minutes of the big guys tonight. They played their game, didn’t make too many mistakes and kept things simple, helped our transition game and they were solid away from the puck.”
As one might expect, Gold Miners coach and general manager Ryan Wood was not happy with his team’s effort Wednesday night.
“We stunk, end of story,” he said.
With a little gentle prodding, the normally talkative Wood expanded upon that to-the-point analysis.
“We were horrible, the whole game,” he said
“It is the worst game we have played all year. It was awful. They didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves. That’s my opinion.
“They were out to get us. We have a bull’s eye on our chest. When you are ranked where we are, it’s almost like a kiss of death. When you are the highest ranked team in the league, you start losing some games.
“Maybe we can get out of the rankings and just worry about our league.
Wednesday’s contest aside, Wood is pleased with the way the Gold Miners have played early in the season.
“Hey, you are not going to win every game in this league,” he said.
“You just want to have a good effort every night. Our effort wasn’t there tonight. We had 13 shots on goal and that’s not good enough.
“We have scored the most goals in the league, but we didn’t come to skate. We didn’t come to compete. We lost every puck battle. It was not a good hockey game for us.”
Masternak stopped 11 of the 13 shots he faced on the night to pick up his eighth win of the season for the Rock.
Gold Miners netminder Dawson Rodin, who turned aside 24 of the 29 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Seguin,Robitaille (two assists) and McMullen … The Rock went 2-6 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 1-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 646 … The Rock will return to action on Saturday night when they host the Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.