THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Defenceman Owen Shier gets off a shot on goalie Nicholas Dicks during Day 2 of the Timmins Rock training camp at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night. Dicks will battle Rock No. 1 goalie Tyler Masternak for playing time when the 2018-19 NOJHL season gets underway Sept. 8. With Masternak in Saginaw to attend training camp with the OHL’s Spirit this weekend, Dicks is hoping to see some playing time when the Rock take on the Cochrane Crunch at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls in their first of three exhibition games.
Day 2 of the Timmins Rock training camp at the McIntyre Arena is in the books, with players continuing to gain a firmer grasp of Coach Corey Beer’s systems.
“Once again today, there was plenty of speed and skill on display,” he said.
“Some of the guys who may have had a little bit of rust on them looked a little bit better today.
“Even through some tough ice, guys were flying around out there. It is exciting to see and, as a coaching staff, we are very excited for these exhibition games that are coming up.
“We worked on some stuff in the D Zone to try and make sure the players understand positioning and where we want them to exit with the puck on breakouts, stuff like that.
“It is going to be an on-going process for us. We are never going to be perfect in the D Zone and we are never going to be perfect on breakouts, so it is good to introduce it to the guys as quick as possible.”
Repetition, of course, is one of the keys to players becoming comfortable in any new system and Beer is confident the Rock are well on their way to mastering that component of his system.
“We are going to reinforce it again with video Wednesday,” he said.
“We are going to keep going over it with these guys in individual meetings and group meetings, as well.
“We want to give them every possible opportunity to succeed.”
With two days of on-ice sessions under their belts, the Rock goaltending picture is becoming crystal clear — incumbent Tyler Masternak, assuming he doesn’t make the roster of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, will be the No. 1 puck stopper, with fellow 2000-birth-year netminder Nicholas Dicks pushing him for playing time.
The third goalie in camp, Dylan Dallaire, was not on the ice Tuesday night because his Timmins Majors went through a strenuous practice just before the Rock took their turn at the McIntyre Arena.
He will likely be signed as an affiliate goalie to fill in when the need arises and his duties with the GNML’s Majors permit.
“More times than not, goalies get labeled as blockers, or big guys in net but we wanted to put a premium on athleticism,” Beer said.
“Tyler and Nicholas are two guys who can come out and play the puck really well and they can both make athletic saves.
“We want them to be able to push each other. I think it is going to be a great thing for us all season long.”
Masternak, who started the 2017-18 season with the Powassan Voodoos (179:00, 2-1-0-0, 0, 3.68, .823) had to bide his time after being acquired by the Rock (1,109:00, 6-9-1-0, 2, 2.87, .907), but he made the most of his opportunity when Eric Jackson went down with an injury.
Jackson, of course was traded to the Saint-Lazare Révolution, of the QJHL, in exchange for defenceman Luka Bolduc.
He was even better in the playoffs (555:00, 6-5-0, 1, 2.81, .925), as the Rock upset the Hearst Lumberjacks and then knocked off the Voodoos, the No. 5 team in Canada, before falling to the Cochrane Crunch in the NOJHL’s East Division final.
“The job Tyler did last year was second to none,” Beer said.
“He was incredible and he has put in a good off season, so he is deserving of the opportunity.
“Tyler had to wait his time, but when his time came he was incredible for us. We wouldn’t have had that great playoff run without him.
“It’s his net now and Nick is going to everything he can to unseat him.”
Beer also knows the importance of having a quality affiliate goalie available when injuries crop up during a long regular season.
“Dylan got into the last regular season game of the year for us against Kirkland Lake and he handled himself incredibly well,” he said.
“He is very talented and kind of fits into the same mould as the two guys we have on our team.
“We are confident he is going to do a tremendous job for the Majors this year and to have access to him is going to be great for us.”
With a full NOJHL season under his belt and coming off an impressive playoff run, Masternak can’t wait for the new season to get underway.
“The guys are all excited,” he said.
“We are looking to carry that momentum forward.”
Entering his second season in a Rock uniform, Masternak is a lot more comfortable in his surroundings.
“We are the veterans now and we have to step up and show the way for the younger guys,” he said.
Masternak, who hails from Oshawa, has a new creasemate in Dicks and he is confident they will work well together this season.
“I got to watch Nick at the Oshawa prospect camp and he looked really good there,” he said.
“He outshone all the other goalies on the ice there.
“He is a good goalie and I think we will be a nice complement to each other’s games.”
Masternak was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, 206th overall, and he will be heading to Saginaw for training camp on the weekend.
“I know I am going to have to work hard and compete there,” he said.
“I am just going to try and do the same thing here before I leave for the Spirit camp.”
With so many new players in the Rock camp, Masternak figures it might take a little while to master everyone’s shooting tendencies.
“Everyone has their own little kick to things, so we will see how it goes,” he said.
Dicks, a Newmarket native, played for the Markham Majors Midget ‘AAA’ team in the GTHL last season after spending three years in the Hill Academy U16 Prep program.
“The tempo has been high out there on the ice and the intensity is pretty high, as well,” he said, describing the first two days of the Rock training camp.
“Everybody is starting to get to know each other better and we are starting to gel a little bit. We are coming together as a team and starting to look really good out there.”
Dicks knows it will take a little bit of time to become comfortable with the blue-line unit playing in front of him.
“That’s especially true when you are coming out to play the puck,” he said.
“You kind of have to know where your defencemen like to go, their habits, whether or not you are going to play it or whether they are going to come around and wheel around the net.
“It just takes a little bit of time to get used to each other.”
Dicks is enjoying his working relationship with Masternak.
“We have been talking a lot in the room,” he said.
“We are getting to know each other and we are getting along well right now.”
Dicks realizes he will have to be patient and wait for his opportunity to show what he can do in the Rock net.
“Tyler had an incredible playoff run and hats off to him,” he said.
“When my time comes, I will just step in and do the best I can,” he said.
Dicks is enjoying his new surroundings and the community.
“We have an unbelievable rink here and the city is great,” he said.
“I can’t wait of the season to get started.”
With Masternak headed for Saginaw on the weekend, Dicks is looking forward to hopefully seeing some action against the Crunch on Saturday night at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls.
“It would be good to get the first game under my belt,” he said.
“I am looking forward to seeing what the boys can do out there.”