Frederick leads Rock past K.L.

Kirkland Lake goalie Zachary Reddy smoothers the puck before Timmins Rock forward Nicolas Pigeon can pounce on a rebound during Wednesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. The Rock went on to defeat the Gold Miners 4-1, completing a sweep of the home-and-home series that saw them win by an identical score on home ice Sunday afternoon. ALLYSON DEMERS/FOR NOJHL NETWORK

Nicholas Frederick scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 4-1 win over the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex Wednesday night.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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The victory allowed the Rock (9-0-1-0) to maintain their perch atop the NOJHL’s overall standings, two points ahead of the East Division rival Hearst Lumberjacks (8-2-1-0) and the West Division-leading Soo Thunderbirds (8-2-0-1).

And the Rock still have a game in hand on each of those squads.

It was the Rock who got on the scoreboard first in Kirkland Lake, as Henry Brock scored his first goal of the season just past the midway mark of the opening period.

Then, with 1:49 remaining in the frame, Frederick notched the first of his two goals on the night to increase the Rock lead to 2-0, a margin they would carry into the first intermission.

“Duber (Rock blue-liner Riley Dubois) just gave me a great breakout pass, I had the shooting lane and I just fired away,” he said.

Frederick then assisted on linemate Eric Barnard’s first goal of the season with 1:26 remaining in the second period.

The frame ended with the Rock enjoying that 3-0 advantage.

The Gold Miners were finally able to get on the scoreboard at the 2:37 mark of the third period, as Spencer Jones netted his third goal of the season.

Any hope Kirkland Lake fans had of the home side getting back on even terms were dashed, however, when Frederick tallied his second goal of the game and season shortly after the midway mark in the frame to make the final score 4-1 in favour of the Rock.

“We had a good two-on-one and Schwinny (Rock captain Tyler Schwindt) had it, bobble it a bit but kept driving to the net and I was just fortunate enough to bury the rebound,” he said.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was juggling his lines a fair bit Wednesday night, but for the most part Frederick was playing on a line with Barnard and Justin Charette.

“It was only our second game together, but things have been working out so far,” Frederick said.

“We have been generating opportunities and tonight we were fortunate enough to bear down on them. The goals started to come.”

Frederick feels he and his linemates complement each other’s game.

“They are both young workhorses and they bust their butts all game,” he said.

“That is my style, as well. I like to think of myself as a hard worker and they play the exact same style.”

Compared to Sunday afternoon’s contest, Frederick felt Wednesday night’s game was a bit sloppier.

“The ice wasn’t great, but that’s never an excuse,” he said.

“I just think our passes could have been a little more crisp, the same with our breakouts, but we were lucky enough to still come away with the W and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”

Just four games into his NOJHL career, Frederick — whom the Rock acquired from the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings on Oct. 7 — is pumped to be playing for a Junior ‘A’ team currently ranked No. 4 in Canada.

“I am more than grateful to have landed here,” he said.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to play and things are working perfectly. The coaching staff is great, our group of guys is great, very welcoming and inclusive.”

Perry was especially pleased with the way his team started Wednesday night’s contest.

“We came out fast and hard, but then we kind of got away from it a little bit the rest of the game,” he said.

“It was a tough battle, but we are going to get everybody’s best game. They are mentally dialed in here.”

That is likely the only downside to being the No. 4 ranked Junior ‘A’ squad in Canada and the only NOJHL team that has yet to lose in regulation.

“That zero in the regulation loss column makes everybody want to be the team to give us that first regulation loss,” Perry said.

“Kirkland Lake played hard and heavy and for a lot of this game we weren’t willing to match it. We just wanted to rely on our depth and our skill and we didn’t want to work for a lot of this game, but it’s another win and we are happy.”

The Rock coach didn’t have any complaints when it came to his goaltending Wednesday night.

“Gavin McCarthy played very well and he is finding his groove,” Perry said.

“He has been really confident in there his last three starts.”

Frederick’s contributions up front also caught the coach’s eye.

“He is just a kid who has a motor that is always going,” Perry said.

“He is a guy who was rewarded for it tonight, but he is also a guy who works like that in practice, as well. It is just like he is in cruise control out there in the highest gear possible.”

The coach was also happy to see Barnard find the back of the net in his second game of the season.

“He has kind of had a tough go this season, not being able to practice or play the last few months,” Perry said, noting the upper-body injury that kept him out of the lineup until Sunday’s contest.

“It might take him a little bit of time, but it was nice to see him get that one tonight. He has got a long way to go, but we were happy for him.”

The coach was also pleased to see Brock, who had been out of the lineup since Sept. 26, find the back of the net.

“He is a big, strong power forward who skates very well,” Perry said.

“He competes really hard and he is hard on his stick. He is really hard to play against and it was nice to see him get rewarded.”

McCarthy turned aside 34 of the 35 shots he faced in the contest to earn his seventh-straight win to start the season.

Kirkland Lake’s Zachary Reddy, who stopped 38 of the 42 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Frederick, Schwindt (two assists) and Jones … Both the Rock and the Gold Miners went 0-4 on the power play … Official attendance at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex was 129 … Wednesday’s other action saw Lumberjacks knock off the Cochrane Crunch 7-5 in Hearst, the Voodoos blank the French River Rapids 2-0 in Powassan and the Thunderbirds stop the Elliot Lake Red Wings 6-2 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will travel to French River for a game against the Rapids Friday night. The next home game will see the Rock host the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 3 p.m.