Timmins Rock forward Evan Grigor celebrates the first of his two goals during Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Grigor’s first two NOJHL goals helped the Rock defeat the visiting Espanola Paper Kings 7-1. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
Evan Grigor scored his first two NOJHL goals to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 7-1 win over the Espanola Paper Kings at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
The Paper Kings attempted to use their physicality to slow down the speedy Rock, but the strategy backfired, as Timmins scored four power-play goals in the contest.
Atley Gringorten’s 11th goal of the season got the Paper Kings on the scoreboard first Friday night, at the 4:27 mark of the opening period.
Grigor’s first of his two goals on the night and season, just over two minutes later, got the Rock back on even terms.
And Ethan Pool’s power-play marker, his third goal of the season, put the Rock in front to stay at the 11:44 mark of the opening frame.
Pool’s night came to a premature end just over three minutes later, however, as he was run over by former Rock forward Yan Bessette.
Pool had to be helped off the ice, suffering from an upper-body injury, and did not return to the contest, while Bessette was assessed a five-minute match penalty for charging and ejected from the game.
Lucas Piekarczyk netted a power-play marker, his first of two goals on the night and 10th of the season, to send the Rock to the dressing room for the first intermission enjoying a 3-1 advantage.
Piekarczyk added a second power-play marker, his 11th goal of the season, at the 14:38 mark of the second period.
Timmins product Kaeden McArthur, playing his first home game since being acquired from the Blind River Beavers, then added his sixth goal of the season.
And with 2.14 seconds remaining in the second period, Grigor netted his second goal of the night and season to put the Rock in front 6-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Nicholas Frederick’s power-play marker, his 12th goal of the season, to play in second period 3:16 into the third period closed out the scoring and made the final 7-1 in favour of the Rock.
With his first two goals under his belt, Grigor was all smiles after the contest.
“The first one started off D-to-D and then up to Ryno (Hayden Rynard) and he put it over to Lowesy (Lucas Lowe) and he made a beautiful pass, right on my stick and I just tapped it in, low, stick side,” he said.
“On the second one, the puck went to Pige (Nicolas Pigeon) and he sent it across to Lowe who took a one-timer and almost took my head off. It came off the end boards and I just tapped it into the empty net.”
Grigor had a number of chances in the third period, but he was unable to add a third marker to complete a hat-trick.
“I had a couple of hat-tricks in minor hockey and it’s a great feeling,” he said.
Grigor knows his role on the Rock isn’t to score goals, but he admitted going 18 games without one had been weighing on his mind.
“I just had to keep playing my game, get in the corners, battle and bring some energy,” he said.
“Most games, our line ends up getting some chances and tonight I was fortunate to actually put them in the net.”
Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was a lot happier with his team’s effort Friday night than he had been following Thursday night’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Lumberjacks in Hearst.
“We played hard,” he said.
“I thought we were a little tired to start, after last night’s game, or whatever excuse you want to go with, but we got a lot of power plays and we capitalized on those opportunities.”
The coach was pleased to see Grigor finally hit the scoresheet, although he stressed it’s the other parts of the forward’s game that impress him most nights.
“I was super happy for him,” Perry said.
“I am super proud of him. He has been sick all week. He missed practice and he didn’t play last night.
“Good things happen to kids who work hard and he is certainly one of those kids. He shows up every day, keeps his head down and works hard.
“He has impeccable character and he has been playing fantastic for us.
“Like any other player, he puts a lot of emphasis on points but that’s not his role here.
“Anything he adds certainly helps and we want him to do well statistically, but he does his best work and you notice his line in time of possession in the Offensive Zone. It’s always high and they do a great job.
“Those are the things we want out of him.”
The coach agreed Piekarczyk, the right-winger on the team’s No. 1 line with Pigeon and Brady Harroun, played his best game in a Rock uniform Friday night.
“He was good and he just hunted pucks all night,” Perry said.
“He was all over the ice and he has got a little bite to his game and he was outstanding tonight.”
Pool also caught the coach’s eye with a strong effort before he went down in the first period.
“You never want to see that happen, obviously,” Perry said.
“He is a player who gets a ton of chances every game because of his speed. He had been snake bitten, but he got a goal last night and you could feel the weight lift off his shoulders.
“He was starting to feel it a little bit and then that happens. It’s a shame.”
Pool was not the only Rock player to leave Friday night’s contest due to injury.
“Where do we start?” Perry asked.
“(Chase) Longhurst (upper-body injury) is day-to day and (Kyle) Trottier (lower-body injury), hopefully he will be back sooner than we think.”
Paper Kings coach Jason Rapcewicz had been hoping for a better start to a tough two-game road trip through the northern portion of the NOJHL’s East Division.
“It was a long trip and it is a tough game to play, especially in this arena, but bus legs or not there are no excuses,” he said.
“They came out tonight ready to play and they showed it. That’s why we lost 7-1.
“We weren’t coming in here planning to do anything special, just play our game and hope we could maybe get a couple of quick ones.
“We wanted to be on top of them and maybe be a little bit more physical because traditionally that’s how we are successful.
“We get in there and bang bodies, keep pucks low and cycle them.
“Unfortunately, tonight we got wrapped up in penalty trouble with some undisciplined stuff.
“Guys were more worried about the referees than playing. When you put all that stuff on the table, we were done early.”
Despite the one-sided loss, the Paper Kings coach is pleased with where his squad is at early in the season.
“We have a couple of good players,” Rapcewicz said.
“We picked up Lucas Signoretti, we got him from Erie (of the OHL), and he comes in every night and competes hard. We have got a couple of other players and I am not going to name any names, but some nights they are great and some nights I am like, where are they?
“We are a little bit younger than I had planned on being and with that youth comes some growing pains.
“To be honest with you, we are further ahead this year than I had expected.
“We have been fortunate with our affiliation with the (OHL’s Sudbury) Wolves to get some good players there.”
Rock goalie Patrick Boivin stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced to earn his 11th win of the season.
Paper Kings goalie Jake Marois, who blocked 29 of the 36 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Grigor, Piekarczyk and Pool … The Rock went 4-11 on the power play, while the Paper Kings were 0-3 with the man advantage … Rock forward Nicholas Moore served the fifth game of his eight-game suspension … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 708 … Saturday’s other action saw the Lumberjacks triple the Soo Eagles 6-2 in Hearst, the Voodoos thump the French River Rapids 9-2 in Powassan, the Blind River Beavers knock off the Gold Miners 5-2 in Kirkland Lake and the Soo Thunderbirds blank the Red Wings 2-0 in Elliot Lake … The Rock will return to action on Tuesday when they host the Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m.