By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
COCHRANE – The Crunch outgunned the Timmins Rock 10-7 at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night in the first half of a home-and-home series.
NOJHL scoring leader Hunter Atchison, Jon Marzec and Aviv Milner each had two goals and an assist to pace the attack for the Crunch, while John Stevenson chipped in with a goals and three helpers.
Newcomer Landen Matechuk and Tristan Salesse each had two goals and two assists for the Rock, while linemate Aaron Kerr had a goal and three assists.
Crunch coach and general manager Ryan Leonard was pleased with the offensive outburst and that his team got two points Friday night, but thought things could have gone better on the defensive side of the equation.
“I don’t think either coach is very happy with the way the goaltenders played tonight,” he said.
“I think Younger (Brett Young) would have like to have had about four goals back tonight, especially the last two which were pretty weak, and on the first goal he gave up he cheated on the pass that wasn’t a pass and the guy scored into an open net.
“We won it for Younger tonight, but we expect some better goaltending tomorrow night.”
Leonard was pleased with his team’s offence and the balanced attack.
“We scored some pretty goals tonight,” he said.
“At the same time, I don’t know how much chance (Logan) Ferrington had on some of those goals we scored tonight. There were some nice one-timers from the point, some nice two-on-ones down low.”
The coach was especially pleased with the play of the line of Marzec, Stevenson and Jeremy McNeil.
“Those guys don’t take a night off,” Leonard said.
“That whole line, the three of them, just goes. They are three of the smallest guys on the ice. They just go, go, go. They don’t care how big you are. They will just take you down. That’s the kind of attitude they have.
“Even our first line stepped up tonight. They got three or four goals. All three lines tonight got two or three at least. It wasn’t a one-line show tonight. Everybody chipped in and it was nice to see.”
“Overall, we are happy to get the big two points. It kicks off the weekend good. Now, we have to concentrate on going back to Timmins tomorrow night and getting another two points.”
Rock assistant coach James Daschuk was left shaking his head following Friday night’s contest.
“How do you score seven goals and lose?” he said.
“That’s what we are trying to figure out. We scored seven goals. If you look on that one side of the sheet, everything was fantastic. It was great. It looked amazing, seven goals, what an offensive outburst.
“Then you look on the other side of the sheet and you see the 10, the 10, the other team put up and there is nothing to say.
“The frustration level is huge right now. There really isn’t much to say. The effort wasn’t there. We can say we tried and it looks good with the seven goals, but the fact of the matter is we gave up 10 and I consider it to be … I don’t want to use the word embarrassing … but I can’t think of another one right now.
“We have wingers busting out of our zone and then we turn the puck over. They had so many two-on-ones in deep, two-on-ohs down low, three-on-ones, just a direct result of us being nonchalant, not really caring, all wanting to do our own thing, a little bit of selfishness, guys wanting to carry the puck from one end to the other. Obviously, we are going to turn it over when that happens. Those guys are too good. They are in first place in the East Division for a reason.”
With the second half of the home-and-home series at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night, the Rock will not have long to dwell on Friday night’s set back.
“The good news, and actually there is good news, is that we are going to have to play better tomorrow and we know we are a 10 times better hockey team than this,” Daschuk said.
“We know what we can do. We are coming off a big win against Powassan and that’s the positive tonight. We know that we can easily come back in 24 hours and have a much better hockey game and have a different result.”
The two sides each scored twice during the opening 20 minutes Friday night, with Marzec potting his 14th goal and Stevenson his 24th to put the Crunch in front 2-0.
The Rock battled back to tie things up at 2-2 before the first intermission, however.
Bain Cunningham netted his 20th goal of the season, a power-play marker, and then Matechuk followed with his first goal in a Rock uniform just under three minutes later.
Each side added two more goals in the second period, as the fireworks continued.
Atchison’s 38th goal of the season put the Crunch up 3-2, but defencenman Andrew Castagna got that one back for the Rock just over a minute later when he scored his ninth goal of the season and fourth in his past two games to deadlock things at 3-3.
Seamus Maguire restored the Crunch’s one goal lead 41 seconds later when he scored his 21st goal of the season.
Salesse’s 23rd goal of the season again tied things up, at 4-4, before the end of the middle frame.
The Rock then took their lone lead of the contest 29 seconds into the third period when Matechuk struck for his second goal of the game and season to put the visitors in front 5-4.
Again, the Crunch responded quickly, as Marzec scored his 15th goal of the season 44 seconds later to tie things up at 5-5.
Defenceman Joe Thielen’s eighth goal of the season and Tyler Minoletti’s 14th of the campaign, 53 seconds apart, put the Crunch back in front 7-5.
The back-and-fourth affair then saw the Rock counterpunch their way back into things with a pair of goals.
Kerr’s 11th goal of the season 44 seconds after Minoletti’s goal was followed by Salesse’s second of the game and 24thof the season to knot things up at 7-7.
Leonard opted to pull starting goalie Brett Young following Salesse’s second goal, inserting Allan Menary into the net.
Menary was between the pipes Milner scored his 10th goal of the season 1:01 later to put the home side back in front 8-7.
During the next stoppage in play, 31 seconds later, Leonard pulled Menary and put Young back in net to finish the game.
Milner connected for his second goal of the game and 11thon the season a few minutes later to make it a 9-7 hockey game.
Atchison the deposited his second goal of the game and 39thof the season in an empty Rock net to close out the scoring and make the final 10-7 after the visitors opted to pull Ferrington in favour of an extra attacker.
Menary did not face any shots during his 1:42 in the Crunch net, but he earned the victory because he was between the pipes when Cochrane took the lead and did not surrender it.
Young turned aside 35 of the 42 shots he faced in the contest.
Ferrington turned aside 42 of the 52 shots the Crunch fired his way and was tagged with the loss for the Rock.
NOJHL NOTES — Official attendance at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night was 450 … The Rock went 1-2 on the power play, while the Crunch were 2-4 with the man advantage … The Rock were without the services of forward Wayne Mathieu (upper-body injury) and also sat out goalie Devon Debastos … Friday night’s other NOJHL action saw the Iroquois Falls Eskis edge the Express 6-5 in double overtime in Espanola, the Gold Miners get past the Powassan Voodoos 3-2 in Kirkland Lake and the Wildcats shred the French River Rapids 9-2 in Elliot Lake.