THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock forward Mahingan Decontie fires a shot off the right pad of Kirkland Lake Gold Miners goalie Gregory Brassard as defenceman Quinn Schneidmiller looks on during the second period of Sunday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. The Gold Miners doubled up the Rock 6-3 to earn their first victory of the season and hand the Rock their first loss. The two sides will meet again at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake Thursday night.
Austin Caza scored a pair of goals to lead the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners to a 6-3 win over the Timmins Rock at the McIntyre Arena Sunday night.
It was the first win of the 2018-19 NOJHL campaign for the Gold Miners (1-1-0-0) and the first loss of the season for the Rock (1-1-0-0).
The Rock certainly didn’t look as sharp as they did 24 hours earlier when they opened with a 3-0 win over the French River Rapids.
Rock coach Corey Beer gave the Gold Miners plenty of credit for making things difficult for his squad Sunday night.
“They did a really good job of keeping us to the outside,” he said.
“There were not a lot of shots for us from inside the house tonight. Their goalie (Gregory Brassard) was really good, especially early on.
“Then, unfortunately, we had a couple of bad defensive miscues and missed man assignments and they ended up biting us.
“We will get some good video off of this game and hopefully we can make some corrections.”
Things started out on a positive note for the Rock Sunday night as they outshot the Gold Miners 14-9 in the opening 20 minutes and emerged with a 1-0 lead thanks to a Josh Dickson power-play goal, his first of the season, late in the opening frame.
The Gold Miners got back on even terms at the 3:49 mark of the second period, when Max Newnam beat Rock goalie Tyler Masternak for his second goal of the season.
Then, with just over two minutes remaining in the frame, James Scott scored his first goal of the season to put the Gold Miners up 2-1 heading into the second intermission.
Hunter Foreshew’s power-play marker, his first goal of the season, 53 seconds into the third period extended the Gold Miners lead to 3-1.
Caza’s first goal of the season less than four minutes later made it a 4-1 hockey game.
Just over a minute-and-a-half later, Rock captain Derek Seguin scored a power-play marker, his first goal of the season, to pull the home side to within a pair of goals.
Caza’s second goal of the game three-and-a-half minutes later restored Kirkland Lake’s three-goal advantage, however.
That goal signaled the end of Masternak’s night, as Beer opted to pull him in favour of Nicholas Dicks.
Riley Brousseau’s first goal of the season, midway through the third period, once again cut the Rock deficit to a pair of goals.
The Gold Miners were able to ice the victory, however, when Noah Cauchi deposited his first goal of the season into an empty Rock net to make the final score 6-3 in favour of the visitors.
Given that a number of the goals the Rock surrendered Sunday night were scored from in close, the team obviously has some work to do in its own end of the ice.
“It is certainly a five-man effort to ensure stuff stays out of there, but I think boxing out is going to be a priority during this next week,” Beer said.
“It is just a matter of finding your guy and staying with him, not chasing the puck. We put a lot of priority on staying with your man and down low I don’t think we did a good enough job overall.”
The Rock lost Dickson to a facial injury in the second period and he did not return after leaving the ice with blood streaming from the injury.
“The loss of Josh Dickson really hurt us down the middle,” Beer said.
“Seguin and (Stewart) Parnell were terrific in the face-off circle and Linden Spencer offers a different kind of offence for us. He is more of a chip and chase type guy, very hungry on the forecheck.
“I think we lost a big of Dickson’s patience and poise out there and it hurt us for the middle part of the game.
Beer was impressed with what he saw from the Gold Miners Sunday night.
“(Gold Miners coach and general manager Ryan Wood) Woody did a phenomenal job in the offseason,” he said.
“I love their speed and their forecheck was tenacious right off the hop. It gave us fits. They have some high-end skill and they played the perfect road game.
“Even late, when we got a couple of goals, they kept things calm and they cashed in on their opportunities.
“Their offensive zone cycle was a lot better than ours at certain points and it paid off for them.”
Despite the loss, Beer remains optimistic the Rock will enjoy a solid season.
“We have a young, growing team,” he said.
“Our division is so competitive. There are no easy nights. French River had a tough weekend in terms of won-loss record, but they are as competitive as anybody.
“Hearst had a big win tonight. Kirkland Lake beat us and they went right down to the wire with Powassan Saturday night.”
The Gold Miners gave up a pair of goals in the final 30 seconds of Saturday night’s home opener at the Joe Mavrinac Community Centre en route to a 6-4 loss to the Voodoos.
Wood was happy to see his squad rebound from that heartbreaking setback to pick up a pair of points on the road Sunday night.
“Coming into tonight, I thought our guys showed some good character,” he said.
“We came back from a 4-1 deficit against a good team like Powassan and then you never want to lose a hockey game in the last minute, especially at home during your home opener in front of a good crowd.
“I know the boys were disappointed and they wanted to get some revenge, whether it was against Timmins tonight, or Hearst, or whomever.”
The coach didn’t feel the Gold Miners played that badly in the first period Sunday night, even though they trailed by a goal after 20 minutes of play.
“We were a little disappointed after the first period because I thought we had a couple of good scoring chances that we didn’t finish,” Wood said.
“We regrouped in the second period, came out and scored a couple of goals and the rest was history.”
The Gold Miners stuck to their game plan throughout the contest.
“The boys were collapsing well to our net and having good awareness as to where their guys were,” Wood said.
“I thought our D’s gaps were fairly decent for the most part and we didn’t allow Timmisn to have easy entries into our zone.”
A number of Gold Miners impressed Wood with strong games Sunday night.
“I thought our captain, Quinn Schneidmiller, played a good game and I thought our goalie, Gregory Brassard, played really well,” he said.
“I also thought Max Newnam, one of our new guys we just got last week, played a good game. He generated some good scoring chances and got us going with a really nice breakaway goal.
Brassard went the distance in net, stopping 34 of the 37 shots the Rock fired his way, to earn the victory.
Masternak, who turned aside 20 of the 25 shots directed his way, was tagged with the loss Dicks did not face any shots during his 10:59 in the Rock net.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three start of the game were Caza, Scott and Seguin … The Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 2-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 768 … The Rock did not dress forwards Austin Holmes and Joshua Kego, as well as defencemen Cameron Burlington, Luka Bolduc and Eric Moreau … Sunday’s other action saw the French River Rapids drop a 4-1 decision to the Lumberjacks in Hearst and the Soo Thunderbirds edge the Canadians 3-2 in Rayside-Balfour … The Rock will return to action on Thursday night when they take on the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake. The next home game will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, when they host the Canadians at the McIntyre Arena.
Game Photos courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)