Cubs spoil Rock coach’s birthday

Greater Sudbury Cubs goalie Jake Marois fires the puck past the outstretched stick of Timmins Rock forward Liam Wells during the first period of Monday afternoon’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. The Cubs went on to double up the Rock 6-3 in the conclusion of their three-game weekend road trip. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The Timmins Rock failed to deliver the birthday present coach and general manager Brandon Perry had been hoping for at the McIntyre Arena Monday afternoon — a victory.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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Instead, the Rock dropped an uninspiring 6-3 decision to the Greater Sudbury Cubs.

Neither Perry, nor the 632 fans looking for a little Family Day entertainment, was amused.

“We have a couple of issues right now,” said Perry, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Monday.

“We had nothing, we had nothing all night. Guys didn’t want to compete.

“A team comes in here on the last game of a three (games) in three (nights), with three lines and they outworked us for 60 minutes.

“It is just embarrassing.”

Following Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie, Perry suggested his team was “chasing the game” all night.

Clearly, it was more of the same for most of the contest Monday afternoon.

“We just had some lazy, lazy, lazy players,” Perry said.

“Couldn’t get a save, couldn’t get back for pucks quick, it was just one of those games.”

Things actually didn’t start off too badly for the Rock Monday afternoon, as Nicholas Frederick scored his sixth goal of the season to give them a 1-0 first period lead.

Despite that advantage, the Rock were only able to outshoot the Cubs 8-7 in the frame, perhaps a sign of things to come.

The Cubs were able to get back on even terms at the 4:14 mark of the second period, with Billy Biedermann crashing through Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy to deposit his 15th goal of the season into the Timmins net.

The real backbreaker, however, was Cameron Shanks’ shorthanded tally, his ninth goal of the season, six-and-a-half minutes later.

Blue-liner Cameron Dutkiewicz tied things up at 2-2 less than a minute later when he netted his 14th goal of the season.

But the Cubs were able to regain the lead before the end of the period, with Mathieu Morin finding the back of the net for his eighth goal of the season.

The Rock tied things up once more at the 8:28 mark of regulation, with Nolan Ring scoring his seventh goal of the season.

Three-straight goals in the second half of the third period allowed the Cubs to take control of the contest once and for all.

Blue-liner Carter Geoffroy got the puck rolling when he scored his third goal of the campaign.

Shanks followed with his second goal of the night and 10th of the season and Kyler Campbell then deposited his 27th goal into an empty Rock net with McCarthy on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.

Cubs coach Vagelli Sakellaris was happy to see his club wrap up a difficult three-game road trip and fourth game in five nights with an impressive victory.

“We have had a long week of hockey and I was pleasantly surprised to see the players come out with a lot of energy,” he said.

“Give credit to our training staff for keeping the kids energy levels up with nutrition.

“The kids dug deep and responded.”

Even when the Cubs fell behind 1-0, there was no sense of panic on the part of the visitors.

“Coming, understanding Timmins has a good hockey team, that was kind of the message, if we get up by a goal, don’t get too excited and if we get down by a goal, don’t get too frustrated,” Sakellaris said.

“The kids answered the bell and did a good job of sticking with the game plan.”

While pleased with the efforts of the entire team, the coach did single out a couple of Cubs for a little extra praise.

“(Forward) Pierson Sobush worked hard on both sides of the puck,” Sakellaris said.

“Cameron Shanks, the same thing. He is a two-way player who did yeoman’s work out there.

“Our goalie (Jake Marois) stood on his head.

“I can go up and down our roster, the 20-year-old guys took on a leadership role.

“We had a short bench, so they had to take up extra ice time.”

There weren’t a lot of Rock players who impressed their coach during Monday afternoon’s contest, but affiliate player Aiden Wilson — a blue-liner who took a regular shift up front — was one of them.

“It was nice to have that extra body up here with the suspension (forward Christopher Engelbert served the second game of a four-game suspension) and (upper-body) injury (forward Gabinien Kioki),” Perry said.

“He went in and did a great job. He had never played forward in his life. He played it (forward) better than half of our roster tonight. We probably should have given him more ice.”

Frederick also made a favourable impression on his coach.

“He is literally one our only guys who always has jump,” Perry said.

“He is always going. We have guys on our team who pick and choose when they want to play. They think it is going to be easy and then the game isn’t easy.

“Nicholas Frederick isn’t one of those players. Game-in, game-out he puts in the effort.”

Blue-liner Carson Cox, acquired from the Hearst Lumberjacks prior to the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Jan. 10 trade deadline, made his Rock debut Monday afternoon, after serving the final three games of his eight-game suspension.

“He looked all right,” Perry said.

“He looked like he hadn’t played a game in three months, but I am not going to put too much emphasis on his game tonight.

“He has been off for a long, long time (Dec. 10 was his previous game).

“He had some good moments and some moments where maybe there was a little fatigue in there. He is going to be fine.”

The coach was also pleased with the play of Ring and blue-liner Chase Longhurst, who also moved up to the forward lines Monday afternoon.

Following Monday’s setback, the Rock (25-6-2-1) remain in third place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings and fourth in the overall standings.

While they trail the Lumberjacks by five points and the Voodoos and the West Division-leading Thunderbirds by two points, the Rock have three games in hand on Hearst, four on Powassan and one on the Soo.

Marois turned aside 28 of the 31 shots the Rock directed his way to earn his fifth win of the season.

McCarthy, who blocked 29 of the 34 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Shanks, Biedermann and Frederick … Both the Rock and the Cubs went 0-4 on the power play … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 632 … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they host the Soo Eagles at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.