VIDEO / GALLERY: Riley records second NOJHL shutout as Rock blank Storm

Timmins Rock forward Harry Clark slips the puck between the pads of Iroquois Falls Storm goalie Brodie Haylock for the first of his two goals on the night during the first period of Saturday night’s NOJHL contest at the Jus Jordan Arena. Clark’s 24th goal of the season stood up to be the game-winner as the Rock went on to blank the Storm 4-0. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

IROQUOIS FALLS — Dryden Riley stopped all 34 shots he faced to earn his second NOJHL shutout as the Timmins Rock blanked the Storm 4-0 at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.

It was the second win of the weekend for the Rock who steamrolled the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 13-2 at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

The back-to-back victories allowed the Rock (26-11-2-0) to maintain their lead over the Powassan Voodoos (23-14-0-2) and the Hearst Lumberjacks (21-11-3-2) atop the East Division standings.

Riley had to be especially sharp in the third period of Saturday night’s contest, as the Storm fired 14 shots in his direction in an effort to get back into the contest.

“The last five minutes, things were getting pretty scrambly,” he said.

“Guys were hitting each other and it was getting pretty dirty, but when they came down I was able to stay dialed in.”

The two teams certainly kept referees Jean Belliveau and Cory Hofferd quite busy — especially in the second and third periods — with a steady stream of players to the penalty box.

In addition to recording his second shutout of the season, the 16-year-old Belleville product lowered his goals against average to 2.34 (second best in the NOJHL) and improved his save percentage to .916 (tied for sixth best in the NOJHL).

Traditionally when a goaltender plays a strong game they are quick to credit the blue-liners playing in front of them, but with only five healthy D-men in the lineup once again Saturday night the Rock were forced to make due with a number of forwards filling in for their injured teammates.

“Honestly, I think they did a great job helping out on defence,” Riley said.

“Hank (Henry McLellan) is a really good two-way player anyways and he did a good job on defence tonight.”

A draft pick of the OHL’s Erie Otters (11th round, 204th overall), Riley has been playing with more and more confidence with each start in net.

“I have had a chance to bond with the team, go out for diner, just getting to know the guys,” he said.

Officially listed at 6-0 and 158 pounds, Riley covers a lot of the net and he uses every part of his equipment to keep the puck out of the net.

“I had a couple of shots that bounced off my head tonight,” he said, when asked if there were any shots in particular that gave him trouble.

The Rock got what would prove to be the game-winning goal off the stick of Harry Clark shortly after the midway point in the opening period Saturday night.

The power-play marker was the first of two tallies in the contest for Clark and his 24th goal of the season.

Mason Svarich added his team-leading 29th goal of the campaign in the middle frame to put the Rock in front 2-0.

Hayden Rynard then scored his eighth goal of the season five minutes into the third period to give the Rock a little more breathing room.

Clark then closed out the scoring when he ripped a shot past Storm goalie Brodie Haylock for his second goal of the night and 25th of the season with 35 seconds remaining on the clock.

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was, for the most part, pleased with what he saw from his squad Friday night and Saturday night.

“Points are super big this time of year and that’s four big ones for us,” he said.

“This probably wasn’t one of our cleanest nights, coming off a big win Friday night, it’s hard to recalibrate and get your mind right for another one, plus they lost Friday night, so you knew they were going to come out hard.

“Dryds did a great job back there for us, keeping us ahead and I am super happy we were able to get two points.”

It wasn’t just his goaltender who impressed the Rock coach in the contest.

“Harry Clark, obviously, had a good game,” Perry said.

“Henry McLellan was awesome. He sat for a huge period of time and then we put him out on D, then forward. He was probably so confused, but he did a great job with it.

“Lucas Lowe was good again. I liked everybody’s game. I don’t think anybody played their best tonight, I thought we were fighting the puck a little bit, but it was a solid road win.”

The coach agreed given the physicality of the contest the game almost has a playoff atmosphere about it.

“If the season ended today, that’s what the match-up would be,” Perry said.

“They have a proud group over there and they are going to keep coming, playing hard, you can’t take them lightly.”

Despite the loss, the Storm (11-29-0-1) have a four point lead on the Gold Miners (7-27-4-1) in the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division, although Kirkland Lake has two games in hand.

The Rock were without forward-turned-blue-liner Kaeden McArthur Saturday night after he suffered a hand injury during Friday night’s win over the Gold Miners.

“(Sam) Gallagher is probably still a couple of weeks away, (Ethan) Albert is probably a week away, (Chase) Longhurst-McIntyre still has one game left on his suspension, plus he has to get his cast off, so he is probably still two or three weeks away,” Perry said, updating the status of the Rock’s injured blue-liners.

“Our defence corps is so bad (assistant coach) James (Daschuk) came up to me on the bench when we were killing a penalty and he was like ‘I need some forwards to play D.’ I am like, ‘what are you talking about,’ I look down and there are no D on the bench.

“So, we had (Jack) Anderson and McLellan go out.”

In addition to picking up his second shutout of the season, Riley’s 34-save performance earned him his 14th win of the campaign.

Haylock, who turned aside 44 of the 48 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Riley, Haylock and Clark … The Rock went 1-6 on the power play, while the Storm were 0-2 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Jus Jordan Arena was 565 … Saturday’s other action saw the Powassan Voodoos blank the Gold Miners 5-0 in Kirkland Lake, the Espanola Paper Kings top the Rapids 4-1 in French River and the Eagles dump the Blind River Beavers 5-1 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. … The Rock will return to action on Wednesday when they host the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel