GALLERY: Beard nets pair as Rock blank Crunch

Timmins Rock forward Thomas Beard celebrates the first goal of his NOJHL career during the first period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest against the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena. The goal would prove to be the game-winner and Beard would added another marker in the second period as the Rock went on to defeat the Crunch 7-0. They will return to action on Tuesday when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The first two goals of Thomas Beard’s NOJHL career — including the game-winner — helped lift the Timmins Rock to a 7-0 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

It was clearly a stride in the right direction for a team that had just one win in its previous six contests.

“The two points are extremely important for us,” said Rock assistant coach James Daschuk.

“We have got to keep up with the other top teams in the East Division.”

Following play on Friday night, the Rock (6-3-1-1) were tied with the Hearst Lumberjacks (7-3-0-0) for top spot in the division, but their rivals have a game in hand.

“The score looked a little one sided, but could we have played better?” Daschuk said.

“Probably, especially in the third period when we came out a little slow.

“I think that has been an issue for us, just a little bit inconsistent, but there certainly were many bright spots tonight.”

The assistant coach conceded that despite the final score it really didn’t feel like a 7-0 hockey game.

“I thought we played okay in the first period,” he said.

“The shots were a little lopsided after the first period, but you could just tell we weren’t … great, we weren’t clicking. There was just a little something missing.”

Even though the Rock outshot the Crunch 16-6 in the opening 20 minutes of play, they held just a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

That lead was provided by Beard’s first goal of the game and season, at the 4:21 mark of the frame.

“Luckily, in that second period we got a couple (of goals), so that relaxed us a little bit,” Daschuk said.

“Because of the way we have been playing, you don’t want to be pessimistic, but that second period really helped us out.

“It’s not a secret that we are not thrilled with where we are at, but do we think it is the end of the world? Absolutely not.

“There is definitely a lot of work (that remains to be done). The guys are putting in the work, whether it is not getting our bounces, or whatever it may be if you analyze the video, we are just trying to get back to where we should be.”

Beard’s second goal of the game and season, 2:05 into the second period, made it a 2-0 hockey game.

Brady Harroun then added the first of his two goals on the night and ninth of the season six-and-a-half minutes later.

Less than three minutes later, Nolan Ring found the back of the net for his third goal of the campaign.

And Ethan Pool rounded out a successful period for the Rock when he netted his second goal of the season to send the home side to the dressing room for the second intermission up 5-0.

Captain Nicolas Pigeon won a face-off to the right of Crunch goalie Jake Dubinsky before lifting the puck up and over him for his third goal of the season at the 12:47 mark of the third period.

Harroun then wrapped up the scoring when he tipped home a pass from Lucas Lowe for his second goal of the night and 10th of the season with 2:32 remaining on the clock.

Daschuk was pleased to see Beard finally find his way to the scoresheet Friday night.

“They were his first Junior ‘A’ goals, so we are happy for him,” he said.

“He was very deserving tonight. He has been going through some growing pains, like any other rookie, but he works really hard and he has a professional approach to the game.

“So, even if he has a bad game or a game where he doesn’t play well, you know he will battle back.

“He has got a lot of responsibility. He is killing penalties for us now.

“We have a lot of confidence in him and he has just got to find that consistency we have been talking about with the rest of our team.”

Beard played on a line with Hayden Rynard and Lucas Lowe for the majority of the night, although Liam Wells also saw time on that line.

“That line was kind of shuffled around a bit, but those guys don’t get enough credit,” Daschuk said.

“They are just like sponges of information, doing exactly what you tell them, what’s asked of them.

“Rynard is a big body and he doesn’t have a goal yet, but you can tell it is coming. You know he is going to break through.

“Lowe, tonight was his best game. He got a couple of great assists.

“It is just a matter of those guys finding their game every day, realizing you can’t take days off because it will cost us.”

The Rock’s big guns, Pigeon and Harroun caught the eye of their assistant coach, as well.

“I forget who passed the puck over to Babs (Harroun) on his last one, but Pige (Pigeon) wasn’t really a surprise,” Daschuk said.

“He does something like that every day. You get to watch him in practice and those are just the things he does.

“It was fun to watch.

“I don’t think he would say it was his best game today, but a goal like that was fun to watch.”

The assistant coach also appreciated the steady play of Rock goalie Patrick Boivin, who earned his first shutout of the season.

“It is just comforting knowing he can go without the action, the stuff around his net, for a couple of minutes at a time and still be sharp,” Daschuk said.

“You don’t have to worry about a bad goal going in or something happening.

“He knows what it is all about and he wants to win a championship more than anybody else.”

First-year forward Evan Grigor, who picked up his first NOJHL point when he assisted on Beard’s game-winning goal, also caught the assistant coach’s eye.

“He played a pretty decent game,” Daschuk said.

The Rock were without the services of veteran forward Nicholas Frederick (10, 8-8-16, 4) Friday night, although the upper-body injury he suffered during Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Soo Eagles may not be as serious as first feared.

“He is day-to-day,” Daschuk said.

As one might expect, Beard, who was playing his ninth NOJHL game, was happy to finally get his first goal.

“It felt amazing when that first one went in the net,” said Beard, a product of the GNU18L’s Timmins Majors.

“I had been in a slump, so when I got that one it really put a jolt through my body.

“We had a hard forecheck and Cochrane coughed up the puck in the slot, I picked it up and shot it.

“I was just trying to get a good, hard shot on net.”

That marker allowed Beard to be more relaxed and provided him with a boost of confidence.

“When the second one came, I was kind of shocked that it came that quick.

“Off a face-off, we had a set play, the puck just popped out and ended up on my stick.

“It was kind of like how we drew it up on the board. I kind of panicked when the puck came to me, so I just fired it.”

Beard was quick to share the credit for his success with his linemates.

“We had a quick line and we really moved the puck well,” he said.

“Their defence, in their zone, couldn’t touch us, really.”

Crunch coach Tom Nickolau felt his squad just ran out of gas due to the lingering effects of their strong performance at the 2022 NOJHL Showcase as Friday night’s contest progressed.

“We did shorten the bench at times in those two games and then losing (Liam) Boswell (lower-body injury) in the first period really hurt,” he said.

Boswell (12, 3-7-10, 6) is the Crunch’s leading scorer and Nickolau is hoping his injury will not keep him out of the lineup long.

“That hurt, especially winning face-offs, especially in the second period,” he said.

When the Elliot Lake Red Wings visited the Rock back on Sept. 24 they trailed 4-0 entering the second period and made a goaltending change that resulted in a 6-5 shootout win.

“I did think about it, but we had a short bench and the guys looked gassed,” Nickolau said.

“I did my best to keep them positive and we had a good five or six minutes (to start the period).”

Besides, Dubinsky was one of the best Crunch players on the ice Friday night, making numerous saves to keep the game as close as it was.

“Our goalies have been our best players most nights,” Nickolau said.

“I think we have the best tandem in the league. We just have to get some reinforcements, get guys healthy and get them back on the ice.”

The Crunch coach was also impressed with the play of Timmins product Desmond Brazeau in the contest.

“He was one of our best players tonight,” Nickolau said.

“He worked hard and made some plays. He has improved big time this year.”

Boivin stopped all 22 shots he faced to earn his fourth victory and record his first shutout of the season.

Dubinsky, who turned aside 35 of the 42 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Beard, Boivin and Harroun … Both the Rock and the Crunch went 0-3 on the power play … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 726 … Friday’s other action saw the Paper Kings cut the Powassan Voodoos 4-1 in Espanola, the Red Wings blank the French River Rapids 6-0 in Elliot Lake and the Eagles edge the Soo Thunderbirds 3-2 in a shootout in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. … The Rock will return to action on Tuesday when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m.