By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
COCHRANE – Logan Ferrington has made 1,057 saves in the NOJHL but none likely more significant than his game-saving glove-hand stop with the final seconds ticketing off the clock in the third period of Thursday night’s game at the Tim Horton Event Centre.
Stunned Crunch fans could not believe Ferrington had been able to make the stop and deny their squad an opportunity at overtime in a 4-3 loss — only the fourth regulation defeat of the season — two of which have come at the hands of the Rock — for a Cochrane team that leads the NOJHL with 43 points on the season.
“The guy came out from the corner on my blocked side and they had a guy down low on my glove side, closer to the slot, and he made the pass and I just kind of sprawled out,” Ferrington said.
“I laid on my back and I ended up catching it somehow. It was fluky how it happened, but a save is a save. I was pretty confident I had the puck in my glove. When it hit the webbing in my glove, I knew I had it.
“I just gave a big sigh of relief when I caught it.”
Playing his third-straight game since returning from a lower-body injury, Ferrington was at his sharpest after the Crunch were able to cut the Rock lead to a single goal.
“I just had to keep my head in the game and talk to our players to make sure they knew what was going on and that I knew what was going on,” he said.
“I just wanted to keep the play developing and stop as many pucks as possible.”
Ferrington had a close call in the second period when Crunch forward Aviv Milner crashed into him and knocked him back into his net.
“I knew when I came back that I was 100% and I was not concerned (about aggravating the injury) at all,” he said.
Ferrington feels Thursday’s big road victory should provide the Rock with a boost of confidence heading forward.
“Beating a team like Cochrane that’s at the top of the standings should give us some confidence,” he said.
Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne could not find enough good things to say about the save his goalie made in the dying seconds of the contest.
“I think that should be your headline: The save,” he said.
“That is the save. If that doesn’t go viral, I don’t know … That should go on YouTube. It was an incredible save.
“That’s what we needed and Loggy came through.
“Tonight’s effort wasn’t just Loggy, though. Everybody played extremely well. They fought hard for the puck.”
There were a few points during the game, however, when the Rock strayed a little too far away from their program.
“When we were up 4-1, the players started to think they were pretty good and started to do their own thing,” Gagne said.
“We were making turnovers and giving them two-on-ones and three-on-ones, but we corrected that going into the third period. I think we might have had two turnovers all period. The puck was in deep and we kept things really simple and played winning hockey.
“They put some pressure on us and they were rolling their (top) two lines for some time but even at the end we persevered. We were going with three lines and then we went down to two lines, also.
“Our best players were our best players tonight and that’s how you win hockey games.”
What is the Rock’s secret to beating the Crunch — twice in the regular season and twice during exhibition action?
“We are motivated when we play against them,” Gagne said.
“They are ahead of us in the standings and when you are facing a team that is ahead of you in the standings you want to prove that you can compete against them.
The Rock jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Wayne Mathieu’s fifth goal of the season midway through the first period.
Hunter Atchison netted his 29th goal of the season with just over two minutes to play in the frame, however, to get the Crunch back on even terms before the first intermission.
The Rock struck for a pair of quick goals early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead and earn Crunch goalie Brett Young an early exit from the contest.
Bain Cunningham got the puck rolling for the Rock when he beat Young for his 11th goal of the season 52 seconds into the middle frame.
Ryan Kerr’s second goal of the season, a power-play marker, just over a minute later earned Young a spot on the Crunch bench, with newly acquired Allan Menary coming on to finish up the contest.
Zachary Kercz, of the Rock, greeted Menary with his 15thgoal of the season less than two minutes later to expand the Rock lead to 4-1.
Crunch coach and general manager Ryan Leonard called a time out following that goal to read the home squad the riot act and the move paid off.
Atchison beat Ferrington for his 30th goal of the season and second of the game at the nine-minute mark of the period to cut the Rock lead to 4-2.
Then Aviv Milner scored his third goal of the season with just over five minutes to play in the frame to pull the Crunch to within one goal
The Crunch pressed for the equalizer for much of the third period, but Ferrington stood tall.
To say Leonard was not happy with the play of the Crunch might be a bit of an understatement.
“I am not impressed with our team,” he said.
“Our last three games against teams we are supposed to play tough against, be it Kirkland Lake the last time we played at home … we were down 4-1 halfway through the second period, or Elliot Lake last weekend when we were down 4-1 halfway through the second period or today when we were down 4-1, we didn’t.
“Let’s wipe out the Blind River and the French River hockey games. Three of our last five games, we were down 4-1and unfortunately tonight we couldn’t battle back to win 5-4.
“This is a hockey team that needs to learn how to play hockey for 60 minutes, not 30 minutes.
“At the end of the day, some of our veterans need to wake up because that first period tonight was sloppy hockey. Half of the second period was sloppy. We had to change all of the lines around halfway through the second period before we finally woke up.
“We dominated the last 10 minutes of the second period and the whole third period. We should have had three or four goals on top of the goals we scored.
“Eventually it is going to catch up to us and some guys need to have gut-check time because Dec. 1 is coming Tuesday and I am not happy right now.”
What does Leonard think is behind his squad’s sluggish starts of late?
“If our guys were more zoned in on playing a hockey game before the games start, instead of worrying about everything else they do, maybe we might be a little bit more focused,” he said.
“You can tell right now we have a lack of focus before hockey games start and we have too good a team to be worried about lack of focus.”
Leonard was impressed with the performance turned in by Ferrington Thursday night.
“At the end of the day, their goalie outplayed our goalie and that was the hockey game,” he said.
“Brett Young lost again against Logan Ferrington that was plain and simple. That has been going on during three of the four games this year, including the exhibition games. We have got to figure out a way to fix that because when Menary went in there and stood tall he wasn’t peppered with any shots and neither was Brett Young.”
Despite the loss, Leonard did see some positives in Thursday’s contest.
“We battled back and made a game out of it, but that shouldn’t happen halfway through a game, especially in our own rink,” he said.
Ferrington turned aside 47 of the 50 shots the Crunch fired his way to earn the victory.
Young, who made stopped eight of the 11 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss, while Menary blocked 15 of the 16 shots the Rock fired at him.
NOJHL NOTES — Defencemen Zack Anderson and Brandon Workun made their Crunch debuts Thursday night … The Rock went 1-6 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-4 with the man advantage … The Rock will return to action when they host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena Friday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. … The Crunch will travel to Powassan for a game with the Voodoos on Monday night.