By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
KIRKLAND LAKE – The Timmins Rock suffered a second-period collapse of monumental proportions at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex Friday night.
The Gold Miners netted six unanswered goals during the 20-minute span to break open what had been a close hockey game and post an 8-1 victory over the visitors.
The Rock never seemed to recover after surrendering a goal with 0.02 seconds remaining on the clock in the first period.
“We were scripted to play the game the way we did early in the first period,” said a frustrated Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“We dominated the first period and we were in the offensive zone. We were doing some great cycling. We had shots on net and we had some great opportunities. Things were really working out for us until one player decided to do what the program doesn’t call for and the next thing you know it is a goal against and there was no reason for it.
“After that, it was the same old mistakes, the same old mistakes. We weren’t taking our man in front of the net. It was just … I can’t call it chaos … I have to call it lack of effort. There were only a few individuals who worked hard and I felt sorry for them because they were not getting anywhere.”
Defenceman Blake Anderson’s seeing-eye shot from the point eluded Rock goalie Logan Ferrington and found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
That heartbreak would be enough to shatter the confidence of any team, let alone one that surrendered a goal with less than a second to play in the third period in late October during a 5-4 home-ice loss to the Powassan Voodoos.
Ferrington managed to keep the Rock in the game early in the second period, but when Jamey Lauzon beat him for his eighth goal on the season at the 4:42 mark it opened the flood gates.
Marc-Antoine Arseneau struck for his 11th goal of the season less than a minute later to increase the Gold Miners’ lead to 3-0.
Arseneau was back at it 44 seconds later when he beat Ferrington for his 12th goal on the season to but the home side in front by four goals.
Lauzon then added his second goal of the game and ninth on the season just over two minutes later to make it a 5-0 game.
A Kapuskasing native, who played for the Rock franchise when it was located in Iroquois Falls and known as the Abitibi Eskimos, Lauzon enjoys playing against his old team.
“I am starting to understand the game is not all about hitting,” he said.
“I am matched up right now with two pretty good linemates (Arthur Miller and Brayden Stortz) and they are always feeding me the puck and making nice plays. Most of the time, they set me up.
Things settled down for a little while as the Gold Miners gunners took a few minutes to catch their breath.
Miller’s first goal in a Gold Miners uniform, a power-play marker, increased the Gold Miners’ lead to six goals.
It took A.J. Rupert just 37 seconds to increase the Gold Miners lead to 7-0, as he beat Ferrington with his fourth goal of the season.
Gagne opted to pull Ferrington following the second period, more to rest the 20 year old who was playing his first game after returning from a lower-body injury than an indication of poor play.
“I felt sorry for Loggy,” Gagne said.
“I think there might have been one goal he would have liked to have taken back. It was a shot off a rebound. That was the only one. You can’t blame him because he never got any support.”
Former Kapuskasing Flyers goalie Mike Gresko, a Timmins native, came on to start the third period.
The move seemed to inspire the Rock and they responded with Ryan Theriault netting his 12th goal of the season to make it a 7-1 hockey game.
The Rock were not able to pull any closer, however, and Dalton Anderson scored a power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season to make the final 8-1 in favour of the Gold Miners.
Gresko had little chance to stop the shot, as he was buried under a pile of Gold Miners forwards and Rock defenders at the time.
Gagne was a lot happier with the way the Rock played in the third period than the second and he had a different vantage point to observe his troops.
“I didn’t even go on the bench (for the third period),” he said.
“I watched from up on top, evaluating our players, and we played like men in the third period.
“I know we took some stupid penalties … tripping and stuff like that, that’s not called for, but when it’s a roughing penalty, a cross-checking penalty and our defence were playing like men in front of the net and hitting, that’s what we need to do. Other teams, when we go in front of their net, that’s the way they punish our forwards.
“That’s the message we gave them, that we have to play aggressive in front of the net.
Gold Miners coach and general manager Marc Lafleur felt the score of Friday night’s game was a little deceptive.
“A lot of guys looked strong tonight and if you look at the final score people who didn’t see the game would say it was lopsided, but at the end of the day I thought they played a great first 10 minutes,” he said.
“We didn’t get out of our end, so (Tyler) Mazzocato did a hell of a job, especially during that first 10 minutes, to keep the score at 0-0.
“We got a break at the end of the period and we carried the momentum into the second period. I think a big reason we got a lot of goals in the second period is that we won a lot of low battles and a lot of slot battles for loose pucks.
“Everytime that happens, you are going to benefit and we capitalized. They came out flat and we took advantage of it. The game of hockey is a game of momentum. Once you gain it, you don’t want to lose it because it is tough getting it back.”
The coach was pleased with the all-around play of his team, but had a little extra praise for a few Gold Miners.
“Arthur Miller hasn’t played much hockey this year, up until now,” Lafleur said.
“We just got him a couple of weeks ago and he has really adapted well. I think he still needs to get his timing, but once he gets his timing together and his legs under him, he is going to be even more effective.
“Dylan Holt has been really solid ever since he has come on board and you can tell he is really a great break-out defenceman and he is good on the PP.
“And we have grinders like Evan Bidenti who has been incredible on the boards all year and on penalty killing.
“Guys like that, at the end of the day, may not be the spotlight guys, but they are the guys who keep the score low for the opposition.”
Mazzocato made 27 saves to earn the victory, while Ferrington turned aside 25 of the 32 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss for the Rock. Gresko stopped 10 of the 11 shots the Gold Miners fired his way in relief.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 2-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance was 298 … Friday night’s other NOJHL action saw the Cochrane Crunch and the Wildcats battle to a 4-4 tie in Elliot Lake, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians thump the Rapids 9-4 in French River and the Powassan Voodoos edge the Express 2-1 in Espanola … The Rock will travel to Iroquois Falls to take on the Eskis at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m.