THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock defenceman Luka Bolduc blocks a shot in front of goaiie Tyler Masternak as French River Rapids forward Hunter Brazier looks on during the first period of Friday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. The Rock went on to blank the Rapids 4-0. It was the third-straight home-ice victory for the Rock over the visitors this season.
The Timmins Rock’s domination of the French River Rapids continued Friday night at the McIntyre Arena with the home side skating off with a 4-0 victory.
Rock goalie Tyler Masternak, who was called upon to stop just 17 shots while posting his second shutout of the season, has now given up just one goal in nine periods against the Rapids this season.
Coach Corey Beer was much happier with his squad’s performance Friday night than he had been with its 5-0 loss at the hands of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners on Wednesday.
“Structurally, we were in great shape tonight,” he said.
“I loved out intensity right from the get go. Our defencemen were really clean on their exits. That makes a big difference. When you get a good first outlet pass, it lets everyone get going on the rush with speed. That was really key for us tonight.”
It took the Rock just 1:51 to get on the scoreboard Friday night, with Riley Brousseaeu scoring what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his second goal of the season.
It ended a six-game goalless streak for the 17-year-old Timmins native.
“I just shot the puck and it deflected off a stick,” Brousseau said.
“I was trying for the goalie’s far pad to get a rebound for (Darcy Haupt) Haupter, but it tipped off the stick and went in top shelf.”
Brousseau played on a line with Eamon Bollinger and Haupt and their first game together appeared to produce some chemistry.
“We were able to move the puck quickly, find the seams and get the puck to the net,” Brousseau said.
During the 2017-18 campaign, Brousseau (7, 1-1-2, 2) got his first taste of NOJHL action as an affiliate player with the Rock.
“I am starting to feel more comfortable offensively,” he said.
The Rock got a little bit of insurance when A.J. Campbell scored his first goal of the season at the 6:46 mark of the second period to make it a 2-0 hockey game.
Matt Capisciolto then added his first goal of the season with five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the frame to put the Rock in front by three goals.
The night of firsts continued 1:15 into the third period when Haupt netted his inaugural NOJHL goal to close out the scoring and make the final 4-0 on favour of the Rock.
Beer was pleased to see his squad get offensive contributions from so many players who don’t normally see their names on the scoresheet.
“It makes a big difference,” he said.
“You can’t rely on your top guns every night. They will run into cold patches because of line matching or whatever.
“We need secondary scoring support and I thought our guys did a great job right throughout the lineup tonight, top to bottom. We went with 11 forwards and seven D. It is a different rotation that way, but everyone got into the game with good, positive minutes.
“I think we played a great team game tonight.”
The coach, of course, was a lot happier with the play of Masternak Friday night, as well.
“It was a tough night for him mentally tonight with five shots through two periods,” Beer said.
“For a goalie, that has got to be really troubling because you don’t get into a rhythm. So, for him to come out fresh in the third period and kind of weather the storm, was great.
“It was nice to see him bounce back after the K.L. game, which was not his best. We know he is capable of more performances like tonight.”
The flow of the game presented some challenges for the Rock blue-liners Friday night, as well.
“Defensively, when there aren’t many chances in your own end, you start getting a little light on your passes,” Beer said.
“Everything gets to be a bit of a feather job and you get too cute.
“I think there was about a five-minute span where we kind of backed off and let them dictate the play a bit, but the next thing you know, we were right back at it.
“Everything is learning process for us. Our guys have to understand it is a full 60 minute game and vets need to be able to control their emotions. I think we did a great job of that tonight.”
To aid that process, Beer called a timeout when it looked like things were about to get a little chippy in the third period.
“The strength of our team is through our numbers and with our full lineup intact,” he said.
“We don’t want to start getting into the after-the-whistle stuff. It is not in our game plan. We try to be a puck possession team. The game is dictated that way now. You watch NHL games and it is all about puck possession. There are no dumb slashes or cross checks.”
Given how well the Rock played as a team, Beer was hesitant to single out any individual players for their efforts Friday night.
“It was great to see A.J. Campbell get his first goal of the year and Darcy Haupt score his first Junior ‘A’ goal,” he said.
“These are hard-working guys who play fourth-line minutes for the most part. For them to contribute offensively is always a good thing.
“Up and down the lineup, I thought we had great effort from our forward and defence groups, as well as in net.”
The Rock lost forward Austin Holmes to an upper-body injury in the third period and he did not return to action.
“There were some other guys who took some serious whacks out there, as well,” Beer said.
“We will see in a day or two how badly they are dinged up.”
Meanwhile, Rapids coach Shawn Frappier was just happy to have enough healthy bodies to ice a team Friday night.
“It was a tough week for us,” he said.
“We had 10 or 11 guys who were sick all week. We had to cancel one practice and shorten another one.
“I don’t want to make excuses. They (Timmins) play hard all the time. They are a hard-working team and they deserved to win.”
Despite the loss, there were a number of Rapids who caught the eye of their coach Friday night.
“Griffin Simpson played hard and we had a couple of other guys who played hard, as well,” Frappier said.
There were times when the Rapids’ game plan was effective, but they just couldn’t sustain it long enough to make a difference.
“We were trying to play a passive one-two-two on the forecheck,” Frappier said.
“Most of the guys stuck with it, but once it broke down guys were trying to do whatever they wanted to do out there.
“You have to follow the system and show up and play hard every night, whether you are up by one or down by two.
The Rapids have played eight of their first 11 games on the road, which hasn’t been conducive to playing consistent hockey.
“So far, I think we have logged somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 kilometres,” Frappier said.
“Thankfully, we have a good stint coming up after this weekend where we will be at home for a while.”
Masternak, who stopped all 17 shots directed his way, picked up his fourth win and second shutout of the season for the Rock.
Rapids goalie Kevin Donaghey, who turned aside 26 of the 30 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Rock defenceman Josh Anderson, Brousseau and Rock forward Keegan McMullin (two assists) … The Rock went 0-4 on the power play, while the Rapids were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 648 … Friday night’s other NOJHL action saw the Crunch double up the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 4-2 in Cochrane, the Blind River Beavers edge the Wildcats 3-2 in Elliot Lake and the Express upset the Soo Eagles 3-1 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Tuesday when they take on the Blind River Beavers at the NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury … The next home game for the Rock will be on Wednesday, Oct. 17, when they entertain the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.