Timmins Rock forward Pavlo Kobikov attempts to gain control of a loose puck while being checked by Soo Thunderbirds forward Grayson Ebrahim during Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. The Ukrainian was held off the scoresheet in his Rock debut, but showed flashes of the offensive skills that prompted the team to sign him. The Rock held on to edge the Thunderbirds 5-4. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
Jaden Lyons scored a pair of goals, including the gamer-winner, as the Timmins Rock hung on for a 5-4 win over the Soo Thunderbirds at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.
It was the second win of the weekend for the Rock (2-1-1-0) who topped the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 5-1 at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
During Sunday afternoon’s triumph they showed plenty of promise, but a lack of consistency, against the Thunderbirds squad playing its third game in three nights.
“We are kind of up and down, up and down, we got two quick ones and guys thought it was going to be an easy night, then we made some careless plays, some selfish plays,” said Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry.
“It is just a new group trying to find its identity. We are a work in progress, obviously, but we will take the two points and move on, watch the video, correct the things we didn’t like.”
To make matters worse for the Thunderbirds, they were forced to start Timmins Majors (GNU18L) goalie Alex Hall in net due to a number of injuries.
The Thunderbirds had an excellent opportunity to jump in front early as they enjoyed the opening period’s lone power-play.
Instead of capitalizing on it, however, they gave up a shorthanded marker to the speedy Lyons, who netted his second goal of the young season.
Less than two minutes later, Kaeden McArthur stickhandled his way through the entire Soo team before beating Hall with his third goal of the season.
Up 2-0 just over five minutes into the hockey game, it appeared the Rock might well roll over the Thunderbirds.
The Soo had other ideas, though, and Alex Remenda beat Rock goalie Patrick Boivin from in close for his third goal of the season to cut the Timmins lead in half.
Then, two-and-a-half minutes later, Grayson Ebrahim scored his second goal of the campaign to deadlock things at 2-2.
Liam Wells restored the Rock lead, however, when he notched his third goal of the season at the 12:15 mark.
And Nolan Ring added his second tally of the campaign 42 seconds later to put the Rock up 4-2 heading into the first intermission.
Things settled down a bit in the middle frame, with Remenda scoring his second goal of the game and fourth of the season to close the gap for the Thunderbirds.
Fans remained on the edge of their seats until the 16:11 mark of the third period when Lyons netted his second goal of the afternoon and third of the season.
It appeared that would be the insurance marker, but the Rock were forced to cash it in with 39 seconds remaining on the clock when James Legler scored his first goal of the season for the Thunderbirds with Hall on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.
That would be as close as the Thunderbirds would come to getting back on even terms, however, as the Rock held on to wrap up the victory.
A number of Rock players caught the attention of their coach in a positive fashion Sunday afternoon.
“I thought Jaden Lyons was fantastic this afternoon and I don’t think it is any magic wand or anything, he is just the hardest worker we have,” Perry said.
“Guys who work that hard, not only on the ice but in the gym, and do things right day-in and day-out, get rewarded.
“He got a nice shorthanded goal this afternoon and then followed up that play to bury a loose puck. He is just consistently our hardest worker.
“And I thought Harry Clark (three assists) was our best player on the ice. I think he is a little frustrated the puck is not going in but he is doing great things for us.
“Nolan Ring’s compete level is always there and he is always working.
“I thought out big guys were our big guys this afternoon, but our bottom end has to catch up, start playing a little better.
“I thought K-Mac (McArthur) was good for most of the game. Obviously, we saw his skill on that beautiful goal and he had a little bit of jump in his legs throughout the game.”
The coach also had some praise for Wells, who looks to be playing some of his best hockey in a Rock uniform.
“When he is playing on that edge, super physical, you can see his explosiveness and his skill,” Perry said.
“He is super hungry and determined and he has been great all year. He has incredible talent and he is powerful.”
Ukrainian forward Pavlo Kobikov was held off the scoreboard in his Rock debut but showed flashes of the skill that made the Rock eager to sign him.
“He hadn’t skated since April and had three practices, doesn’t know the systems super well yet,” Perry said.
“He just needs some more time and he will come around. He had some good moments tonight and some bad moments, just like every other player on the team.”
The newest member of the Rock, forward Jack Anderson, didn’t play Sunday afternoon, but if things go as anticipated he might make his debut this coming weekend.
“He is a hard worker and a well-rounded player,” Perry said.
“He can play a 200-foot game and he has sneaky offensive skill and he can play on the other side of the puck, as well.
“He is a guy we wanted in the summer but he chose to tender with Wayburn in the SJHL, but they brought in a bunch of forwards and he was out.
“He became available and we jumped on him. We are excited to get him into the lineup.”
To make room for Anderson, the Rock have traded blue-liner Cameron Lee to the Gold Miners in exchange for a player development fee.
Lyons was all smiles after recording his first two-goal NOJHL game Sunday afternoon.
“They (Thunderbirds) just gave me the puck and I went through the first guy and saw I had Rino (Hayden Rynard) with me and the other guy (Soo blue-liner) took Rino so I just put it on net and it just trickled in,” he said, describing his shorthanded marker.
Lyons takes a lot of pride in his penalty-killing efforts.
“I love the penalty kill,” he said. “It is something I have been working on for the past two years with (former Rock coach and current Okanagan Hockey Ontario) Cory Beer.
“(The secret to being a good penalty killer) is just keeping your stick in the (passing) lane and make them pass the puck where you want them to pass it.”
Lyons second goal turned out to be the game-winning marker Sunday afternoon.
“A penalty had just run off and Clarkie picked up the puck, started wheeling, saw Ringer was with him, so I decided to be the trailer guy, came in and Ringer gave me a good rebound,” he said.
“I just smacked it on net and it ended up going in.”
Lyons is happy with the way his Junior ‘A’ career has started.
“It has been awesome,” he said.
For the most part, Lyons has played on a line with Henry McLellan and Ryan Armitage, but the latter was out of the lineup Sunday afternoon, so the duo was teamed with Kobikov.
“He speaks perfect English, so (communication) has been so easy,” Lyons said.
“He is one of the boys now.”
Just in case, has Lyons learned how to say “pass me the puck,” or “shoot,” in Ukrainian?
“Oh, no, I know nothing, but I will work on it with him,” he said.
Boivin, who stopped 22 of the 26 shots directed his way, earned his second win of the season for the Rock.
Hall, who blocked 25 of the 30 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss in his first NOJHL start.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Lyons, Remenda and Wells … The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, but scored a shorthanded goal, while the Thunderbirds were 0-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 755 … Sunday’s other action saw the Gold Miners dump the Elliot Lake Vikings 6-4 in Kirkland Lake and the Espanola Paper Kings edge the Rapids 6-5 in French River … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they will host the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel