Timmins Rock captain Tyler Schwindt gets off a shot on French River Rapids goalie Cole Sheffield despite being harassed by blue-liner Adam Boucher during the second period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Sheffield made the save on this play, but Schwindt scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal later in the period as the Rock held on to defeat the Rapids 3-2. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
The Timmins Rock managed to navigate the Rapids Friday night at the McIntyre Arena — barely.
After scoring three unanswered second-period goals and outshooting French River 25-5 to that point, the Rock had to withstand a third-period rally that saw the visitors cut the lead to 3-2 before time ran out on their comeback.
While assistant coach Sean Lee was happy to see Rock secure the victory, he admitted it left a lot to be desired.
“We are always happy with a win, but sometimes it doesn’t look pretty, which was the case tonight, for sure,” he said.
“We weren’t real thrilled with how it played out in terms of our effort and execution.
“We would have liked to have seen some better effort, for sure, all around.
“Of the 60 (minutes), maybe 20 minutes were well played. Our second period was a pretty good period.
“It took us a while to get there and in the third period we just didn’t seem to carry it over from the second period.”
Following a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Rock got on the scoreboard at the 9:19 mark of the middle frame when Henry Brock scored a power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season.
Justin Charette then increased the Rock advantage to 2-0 just over four minutes later when he added his sixth goal of the season.
Then captain Tyler Schwindt followed with what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his team-leading 16th tally of the season, three minutes later.
Even though the Rock outshot the Rapids 8-5 in the third period, it was the visitors who netted a pair of unanswered markers to make the contest interesting.
Leo Chambers netted the first of those two tallies, his seventh goal of the season, 2:47 into the frame.
Captain Cooper Bowman added his 14th goal of the season four minutes later to pull the Rapids to within a single goal.
That would be as close as they would come to getting back on even terms, however, even after pulling goalie Hayden Williamson in favour of an extra attacker late in the contest.
Lee the Rock have not been at their sharpest the last couple of games, even though they still managed to collect three of a possible four points.
“We have got to shore things up,” he said.
“I just think it is mental focus and preparedness, not taking teams lightly.
“Sometimes our record can cause some overconfidence, or complacency.
“It is a constant battle to try and keep the guys grounded.”
That certainly appeared to be the case in the third period Friday night, as former Rock coach Paul Gagne likely would have referred to the team’s play in that frame as lackadaisical.
Lee said, “Lackadaisical? Maybe that’s the appropriate word. Certainly there was a foot off the gas for a little bit.”
The assistant coach knows the Rock were lucky to escape with the victory after allowing the Rapids to get back in the game.
“They have some high-calibre players,” he said.
“If you give them that opportunity, they are going to bury it, as we saw.”
Despite the loss, Rapids coach and general manager Paul Frustaglio saw some positives from his team Friday night.
“Our goal, coming off a five-hour bus ride, was to play even, at the very worst, in the first period,” he said.
“Then, in the second period, we were hoping to turn on the game, but our gas tank must have been empty, unfortunately. The second period wasn’t out best period.
“Regardless of that, Timmins worked really hard. They are a hard-working team and you can’t take a shift off.
“We took shifts off and Timmins scored. They are too good. You blink and Timmins will score a goal. I give credit to Timmins. They played a great second period.
“We turned it up in the third period, made a few adjustments and made a game of it.
“They (Rock) are a good hockey team. They are not ranked where they are (No. 6 in the CJHL Top 20) because they are not very good.”
Frustaglio was pleased with what he saw from a number of Rapids Friday night.
“Our captain (Bowman) worked pretty well, Mr. (Chase) Lefebvre had a pretty good game, Mr. Chambers played a pretty good game,” he said.
“(Starting goalie) Cole Sheffield in the first two periods … he hung in there in the second period. I know he gave up a few goals, but I thought he was good.
“Griffin Simpson and Owen Ethier on the back end had pretty good games. Dominik Godin had a good game, as well.”
With the victory, the Rock (17-2-1-1) moved into a first-place tie with the Powassan Voodoos (16-3-3-1) atop the NOJHL’s overall and East Division standings and they still have two games in hand on their rivals.
The Rapids (12-10-1-0), meanwhile, remain in fourth place in the East Division standings.
Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy blocked eight of the 10 shots he faced to pick up his 13th win of the season.
Sheffield, who turned aside 22 of the 25 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
Williamson, who came on to start the third period, stopped all eight shots he faced.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Schwindt, Bowman and blue-liner Bode Dunford (one assist) … Rock forward Dylan McElhinny sat out the second game of the two-game suspension he picked up after being assessed a five-minute major for head contact and a game misconduct during Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play, while the Rapids were 0-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 848 … Friday’s only other contest saw the Soo Eagles double up the Express 6-3 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Sunday when they take on the Lumberjacks at the Claude Larose Arena in Hearst. The next home game will see the Rock host the Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena on Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m.