THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock forward Josh Dickson deflects a point shot up and over Kirkland Lake Gold Miners goalie Dawson Rodin during an NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday night. Unfortunately for Dickson and the Rock the puck sailed over the crossbar and out of play. Rodin stopped everything the Rock fired his way for his first shutout and win — 4-1 — in a Gold Miners uniform. The Rock will host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
Four NOJHL contests between the two East Division rivals have produced four victories for the Gold Miners.
The latest in that series of setbacks was a 5-0 victory for the Gold Miners Wednesday night at the McIntyre Arena.
Kirkland Lake sniper Max Newnam netted what prove to be the game-winning goal five-and-a-half minutes into the contest when he beat Rock goalie Tyler Masternak.
The Easton, MD, native’s fifth goal of the season and first of two on the night came on a bad-angle shot Rock coach Corey Beer feels needs to be stopped at the Junior ‘A’ level.
“It was an awful goal,” Beer said.
“It was scored on the short side, from a terrible angle. First of all, the puck shouldn’t get off the wall. Our D didn’t box him out and then the shot goes in.
“Even worse, it was a first goal against and it was deflating from that standpoint that it can’t go in the net. Goalies in this league have got to make that save.
“I think at one point, we had 16 shots against and four goals against. You are not going to win games like that. It was not a great effort.
“Their goalie (Dawson Rodin) was very good. That was a big difference.”
It wasn’t just the play of Masternak, of course, that came under scrutiny following the contest.
“We made too many mistakes on the wrong side of the puck,” Beer said.
“There were too many costly turnovers. I can count eight or nine right now off the top of my head.
“It wasn’t everyone, but we had a couple of forwards on the wrong side of the puck, which led to massive breakdowns, neutral zone turnovers with the puck going the other way.
“We had too many guys on their own page tonight who were not willing to do the right things.”
There were times when the Rock showed some flashes of the energy they exhibited in their two previous games, but they were unable to sustain them for any period of time.
“I thought our guys fought back,” Beer said.
“We had a little resiliency and kept coming, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
The Gold Miners expanded their lead to 2-0 just over a minute into the middle frame when Joshua Maine netted an unassisted marker, his second goal of the season.
Patrick Murphy’s second goal of the campaign, ten minutes later, put the visitors in front by three goals.
Any hope the Rock had of mounting a third-period comeback were quashed at the 8:17 mark when Newnam scored his second goal of the night and sixth of the season.
The Gold Miners then added a little insult to injury when Alex Elie notched a power-play marker, his fourth goal of the season, with two-and-a-half minutes remaining to make the final score 5-0.
Despite the loss, there were a few Rock players who earned some praise from their coach following the contest.
“I thought Owen Shier was really good again on the back end,” Beer said.
“Him and Will Caston played some good minutes. They had a couple of bad turnovers, but they were pretty good.
“It looks like Andy (defenceman Josh Anderson) is playing better hockey for us, which is nice.
“Up front, Oh man, you start scraping it pretty thin. It is tough when (Derek) Seguin and (Riley) Robitaille amount for so much of the offence for us. You would like to see somebody else pull their socks up and do some damage.
“I thought (Mahinhan) Decontie was great. He works hard. (Riley) Brousseau was really solid in all three zones.
“The problem was it was one guy per line. The bottom six guys turned the puck over and there were stupid mistakes and dumb penalties.
“We only had about half of the guys going tonight. A couple of them are going to be in the stands, that’s for sure.”
Certainly doesn’t sound like the formula for success against the Gold Miners — or any other NOJHL squad.
The coaching staff had spent plenty of time studying video for the Rock’s first three losses to the Gold Miners and they thought they had things figure out.
“We thought the game plan was a good one,” Beer said.
“We just didn’t execute it at certain points. When we did, I thought we had good offensive control. We would have shifts where the Seguin line would look good or the (Eamon) Bollinger line would look good and then all of a sudden we would have a drop off.
“The game plan would go out the window. Then there were turnovers and the next thing you know it was 3-0.
“I thought from a game plan standpoint, we were in good shape. From an execution standpoint, it was a different story.”
Gold Miners coach and general manager Ryan Wood was pleased with all aspects of his squad’s game Wednesday night.
“It is tough to win on the road in this league,” he said.
“So, when you can get out to a nice little lead and score some nice goals, it is beneficial for the boys and makes them motivated.
“They stuck to the game plan and they didn’t stray away from it very often. When we did stray away from it, we were stuck in our zone a little bit.”
Wood agreed the Gold Miners’ first goal was a shot that most Junior ‘A’ goalies are going to stop on a consistent basis.
“It’s not like it was a really bad goal, but it was a goal where you look at it and you go, ‘man, how did that go in the net?’
“It is one of those goals that was a great shot by Max Newnam, but it’s a goal that at this level maybe the goalie should be stopping.
“It is a deflating type of goal and it gave us a nice momentum swing. Our guys were all excited because, man that was a nice goal.”
Newnam caught his coach’s eye for more than just the two pucks he put in the back of the net.
“He does good things out there,” Wood said.
“We would like to see him compete a little harder away from the puck sometimes, but when you are a guy who scores goals at will, you have got to give a little to get a little.”
The coach was also pleased with the play of Rodin in the Gold Miners’ net Wednesday night.
“He tracked pucks really well,” Wood said.
“What I really like about his game though is he doesn’t give up on pucks. If a rebound is not what he was expecting, he keeps himself very square to the puck. He is 6-5 and tough to get pucks past. Pucks just naturally hit him because of his frame.
“He was nervous tonight and I will be honest with you, he had a really rough practice this morning. I told him I hoped he was going to be better than he was in practice and he proved me to be right.
“He got himself a shutout, so hats off to him.”
It was Rodin’s first start against the Rock after Gregory Brassard was in net for the Gold Miners first three wins against Timmins.
“In order to have success at this level of hockey, you have to make sure both guys can give you a chance to win every single night,” Wood said.
Another Gold Miner who impressed his coach Wednesday night was high-scoring forward Gregory Trudeau-Paquette — but not for the reason you might expect.
“His defensive game was really good,” Wood said.
“He did a good job of collapsing low in front of the net and he was sound positionally.”
One of the newest Gold Miners, defenceman Gabriel LeBlanc, also made a good impression on the coach..
“He jumped into the fire not knowing a lot of our systems,” Wood said.
“We thought he did a great job tonight. He was fired up in the first period and we had to calm him down a bit, but as the game went on get got better and better.”
With their victory, the Gold Miners (6-2-0-0) pulled to within five points of the East Division-leading Powassan Voodoos (8-0-1-0).
Meanwhile, the Rock (4-4-1-0) continue to hold down fourth place — three points ahead of the Cochrane Crunch (3-6-0-0).
Rodin stopped all 32 shots he faced to pick up his first shutout and first win in a Gold Miners uniform.
Masternak, who blocked 17 of the 22 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Newnam, Rodin and Maine … The Rock went 0-4 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 1-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 550 … Wednesday night’s only other contest saw the Hearst Lumberjacks blank the Crunch 1-0 in Cochrane … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.