Caleb Dolman, of the Cochrane Crunch, raises his arms in the air to celebrate teammate Connor Lovie’s first-period goal as Rock goalie Eric Jackson and defenceman Will Caston look on during Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Lovie scored three goals to lead the Crunch to a 7-5 victory over the Rock. The Rock will return to action Wednesday night when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Cochrane Crunch outworked, outshot, outplayed and — most importantly — outscored the Timmins Rock 7-5 Sunday afternoon at the McIntyre Arena, but in the opinion of coach Corey Beer they certainly didn’t outclass the home side.
Beer took exception to what he felt was a “classless” timeout called by the Crunch late in the third period with the outcome of the game more or less decided.
“Their coach calls a timeout with a 7-3 lead,” he said.
“I have been involved in junior hockey for a long time and that’s something that’s not needed. You try and respect your opponent, you try to go out there and play hard shift-in and shift-out. I didn’t like the way they were targeting some of our younger players up high with head hits. That’s someone rubbing it in your face and I don’t think there is any place in hockey for that.
“We try to go out there and respect our opponent every single night. Cochrane is a very good team and we try and treat them that way.
“For them to call a time out and kind of show us up that way, I thought was absolutely disgusting. There is no place in Junior ‘A’ hockey for that kind of stuff. I certainly would never do that to embarrass another club. I thought it was pretty low of their club to do that.”
Asked if he didn’t think the Crunch had called the time out to try and settle their team down and avoid any kind of chippiness that may have been developing, Beer said: “No. I don’t think that at all. It wasn’t in their nature. There were multiple times durign the game where they could have calmed things down. We are not an overly physical team, so when they are out there taking runs, why wasn’t that being relayed to the bench? I thought it was a move to show us up. We had a great crowd on hand tonight and it was something to make a point that they are the better team. The scoreboard read that and we understood that, but we were ready to keep fighting and keep playing.
“I thought it was a very unclassy move and something we certainly won’t forget.”
A resulting shouting match between Beer and Crunch assistant coach Jamy Bernier saw them both sent to their respective dressing rooms by the officials.
On the ice, the Crunch held a vast territorial advantage in the first two periods, outshooting the Rock 11-5 and 19-8.
Despite that fact, the game was tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes of play, with Kyle Herbster’s 33rd goal of the season putting the visitors in front and Evan Kentish-Stack tying things up with his eighth of the season.
The Crunch regained a one-goal lead early in the third period on a Connor Lovie power-play marker, his 10th goal of the season, but the Rock were able to tie things up at 2-2 two-and-a-half minutes later on Derek Seguin’s ninth goal of the season.
From that point on, however, things went downhill fast for the Rock.
It took Laramie Kostelansky less than two minutes to restore the Crunch’s one-goal lead, as he scored his eighth goal of the season, with the Crunch on the power play.
That goal resulted in Rock goalie Eric Jackson getting the hook, with Tyler Masternak coming on in relief.
A minute-and-a-half later, Lovie connected for his second of the night and 11th of the season, again with the Crunch enjoying the man advantage to make it a 4-2 hockey game.
Then, 26 seconds later, Kostelansky scored his second of the night and ninth of the season to increase the Cochrane advantage to three goals.
Jackson returned to start the third period, but it didn’t seem to matter to the Crunch snipers which Rock goalie was in the crease.
Levi Johnson greeted the new Timmins keeper with his eighth goal of the season just 1:44 into the third period.
Lovie then completed his hat-trick by netting yet another power-play marker, his 12th goal of the season to put the Crunch in front 7-2.
Jordan Picard scored a shorthanded marker, his 14th goal of the season, at the 12:02 mark of the third period
A pair of Seguin goals, his second and third of the night and 10th and 11th of the season, with the first coming on the power play, made the final 7-5 in favour of the Crunch.
Beer was clearly frustrated after yet another tough loss.
“We had a couple of breakdowns and some pucks rolled off our sticks, leaving them with some opportune chances to score,” he said.
“There were a number of unfortunate bounces that ended up in the back of our net. We took a couple of real dumb penalties, too, that put us at a disadvantage. You do that repeatedly and put yourself in a PK situation too many times and anyone is going to score on you.
“We need to tidy up some things discipline wise.”
Even when the Rock scored Sunday afternoon they just couldn’t seem to carry any momentum with them moving forward.
“It’s tough right now,” Beer said.
“Obviously, we know the roster we have and you don’t want to dwell on stuff, but losing guys like James Redmond (season-ending upper-body injury) and Josh Anderson (signed with Rimouski Océanic, of the QMJHL), two high-level defencemen, and it is going to hurt you. It has affected our transition game and we have been fighting to get that back.
“I thought Collin McGuire handled himself pretty good tonight and Eric Paquette turned in a workman-like effort, but we continue to struggle with our transition game. Anytime that happens, it is hard to get that continual bounce back shift-in and shift-out.
“We lost some physical battles at certain points and when that happens routinely, you are going to be on the bad side of the scoreboard.”
Beer was impressed by the offensive prowess exhibited by Seguin in the contest.
“He has been working hard lately and he has had lots of chances in some of our other games, but unfortunately the puck had not been going in for him, so it was nice to see him get rewarded for his efforts tonight. He is a guy who works hard and plays 200-foot hockey for us.
“Evan Kentish-Stack was a warrior out there for us tonight, as well. He must have blocked four or five shots on the penalty kill.”
Even though the Rock suffered another tough loss Sunday afternoon, they are still only five points behind the Hearst Lumberjacks in the battle for fourth place in the East Division standings — although each team has only five games remaining on their schedules.
“More than anything, we want to make sure we are playing the type of hockey we want to play going into the playoffs,” Beer said.
“It might not be going back to the drawing board, but maybe rehashing how we want to go about things and get back to our systems. We are going to be facing a good K.L. team on Wednesday night. We will take some time through video and practise Tuesday to prep for that game.”
Crunch coach Ryan Leonard felt his team was in control of the contest from the first puck drop until “the last eight minutes, when all the shenanigans started.”
“At one point, the shot clock was showing 30-11 and all of a sudden it went back to 25-11 somehow,” he said.
“I don’t know how many shots they ended up showing, but I know our stats guy counted 54 shots for us tonight. We were definitely peppering them. We were firing on all cylinders.
“Then, of course the shenanigans had to start because they had to get us off our game to get back in the hockey game. It almost worked for them.”
Even though his team secured a two-goal victory, Leonard was not happy with some aspects of his team’s game.
“At the end of the day, I am not happy,” he said.
“Our defencemen were non-existent in the third period again. We gave up way too many two-on-ones. I am not happy with our defence at all and that’s our job, as coaches, to fix it. If that’s how our defence is going to play, giving up 15 goals in our last two games, we have a big issue.
“Our forwards can’t be scoring 14 goals in two games and only coming out with one win. We lost 10-7 in our last game and our defence was not effective and it kind of showed again in the third period today.”
Two of the Crunch D-men, Lovie and Noah Bennett, managed to escape their coach’ wrath.
“Connor and Noah played excellent games tonight,” Leonard said.
“They weren’t on the ice for any of the five goals against us tonight, but Eli Hernandez and GordonWhalen were not strong tonight. Zach Jones and Thomas Hernandez were not effective on the D tonight, either. They looked scared tonight. Those guys have to play stronger if they want to play hockey.
“That first goal Timmins scored tonight, Thomas Hernandez was coming back, but he just kind of gave up. They scored on the only opportunity they had during the first period. Our goalie didn’t have a chance. Our D didn’t do his job. That kind of stuff is going to kill us, but it’s our job, as coaches, to fix it.”
Another player who made a positive impression on his coach Sunday afternoon was Herbster, who finished with a goal and two assists.
“He is always on the puck,” Leonard said.
“He makes nice plays and he has great vision and I thought (T.J.) Delaney, even though he took some penalties, was effective and made some nice plays. He was a reason we scored a lot of power-play goals. He was a presence in front of their net. He has a long reach and he creates some space.
“Our best player tonight was definitely Connor Lovie, but not too far behind him was Laramie Kostelansky. He had an excellent night. He was strong along the boards and he scored a couple of really nice goals.”
With the win, the Crunch — who hold down second place in the East Division and third place in the NOJHL’s overall standings — improved to 33-16-2-1 on the season, while the fifth-place Rock fall to 17-28-3-3.
Crunch goalie Taylor Unruh turned aside 19 of the 24 shots the Rock fired his way to pick up his 18th win on the season.
Jackson, who started and finished the game for the Rock, blocked 28 of the 33 shots he faced in his 47:13 of work and he was tagged with the loss. Masternak stopped six of the eight shots directed his way in his 12:47 of relief.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Lovie, Herbster and Seguin … The Rock did not dress forwards Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury) and Wesley Weir (serving a one-game suspension) … The Rock went 1-6 on the power play, while the Crunch were 4-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 960 … The Rock will return to action on Wednesday night when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena in the final home game of the regular season. Game time is 7:30 p.m.