KIRKLAND LAKE — The Gold Miners dumped the Timmins Rock 5-1 at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex Thursday night to complete a sweep of a home-and-home series with their NOJHL East Division rivals.
A 5-2 win at the McIntyre Arena Sunday night had handed the Gold Miners the first game of the series.
Rock coach Corey Beer was less than thrilled with the effort put forth by most of his players Thursday night.
“It certainly wasn’t the effort we expected, or wanted,” he said.
“That team (the Gold Miners) came out real good and for whatever reason we have too many guys on our roster who don’t put in a consistent effort night-in and night-out.
“That’s about to change.”
The Rock suffered a loss that might dwarf the two points they failed to pick up as forward Stewart Parnell was knocked heavily into the boards by a Gold Miners player during the second period and he had to be taken to the hospital with an upper-body injury.
“I feel so bad for him,” Beer said.
“He probably had his best off season in terms of training to get himself ready for the season.
“Our fingers are crossed that it is not a serious injury. Hopefully, we will know more Friday.”
Thursday night, Christian Snyder’s marker just 1:02 into the contest — his first goal of the season — staked the home side to a 1-0 lead.
Then, before the puck could be dropped to resume play, it took more than 20 minutes for employees of the arena and on-ice officials to get one of the doors at the Rock bench to open.
It should be noted that this is the third time in three years that the same door has malfunctioned during a visit by the Rock to the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex and that one of the Gold Miners assistant coaches indicated it had been doing the same thing all week during practice.
When play finally resumed, the two sides exchanged a number of scoring opportunities but the score remained 1-0 in favour of the Gold Miners as the two sides headed to their dressing rooms for the first intermission.
Max Newnam’s power-play marker, his third goal of the season, increased the Gold Miners’ lead to 2-0 at the 6:26 mark of the second period.
Less than three minutes later Jaren DeBolt made it a 3-0 hockey game when he scored his first goal of the season.
Captain Quinn Schneidmiller’s first goal of the season, midway through the frame, put the home side in front by four goals.
Beer opted to call a timeout following the fourth Gold Miners goal and lifted starting goalie Tyler Masternak, with Nicholas Dicks coming on to finish up the game.
The Rock finally got on the scoreboard with just 16 seconds remaining in the period when he converted a cross-crease pass from Ian Elkins for his second goal of the season.
Trailing 4-1 heading into the third, the Rock continued to press but they were unable to get any closer.
With the clock ticking off the final few minutes of the third period, Dicks dove across his crease and lunged out with his goal stick to rob a Gold Miners’s sniper who appeared to have an empty net.
The save drew a round of applause from all of the fans in attendance, including those cheering on the Gold Miners.
A few seconds later, however, Gold Miners forward Alex Elie deposed the puck into a wide-open Rock cage on a similar play for a power-play marker, his second goal of the season, to close out the scoring.
Beer agreed once the Rock fell behind by a pair of goals there was too much individual play and not enough structure.
“We maybe had five or six guys tonight who played good hockey within our system,” he said.
“We had too many guys trying to do things themselves, either selfishly or because they didn’t have the skill level to pull it off.
“I think we set a record for offensive zone turnovers with toe drags tonight. That is something that will be corrected through video and through repetition.”
Given that the Rock are off until Saturday, Sept. 22, when they will host the Rayside-Balfour Canadians at the McIntyre Arena, there should be plenty of time to correct the issues that plagued the team during the two losses to the Gold Miners.
“It will give us a chance to really delve back into things,” Beer said.
“We will look at ourselves from a defensive standpoint and how we want to attack things offensively.
“At certain points tonight there were glimpses of good offence, but overall our play away from the puck is not where it needs to be out there.”
Despite the loss, there were a few Rock players Beer singled out for a little praise following the contest.
“Derek Seguin and Riley Robitaille were absolute horses for us out there tonight,” he said.
“Them, Linden Spencer, Josh Anderson and Riley Brousseau were good.
“The effort level they put in night-in and night-out is unbelievable. Every shift is consistent. If we had a team full of those guys, we wouldn’t lose any battles. The rest of our group has to look themselves in the mirror.”
Gold Miners coach and general manager Ryan Wood was naturally a lot more pleased with the outcome of Thursday night’s contest.
“We have to play Timmins 10 times this year, so being able to get two quick wins against them early in the year really helps us,” he said.
“They have a good hockey team, but fortunately we played a really good game tonight.
“Any time you can score early in a hockey game, like we did tonight, and have the momentum in your favour it allows you to play with a little bit more confidence.”
Even after the Rock finally got on the scoreboard, the Gold Miners remained patient and didn’t try to force anything.
“That’s our structure,” Wood said.
“We want to make sure our guys play a good defensive game within the confines of their own creativity. We do have some skilled guys, but they have got to make sure they are taking advantage of being good away from the puck.”
There were no shortage of Gold Miners who were at the top of their game Thursday night.
“I really liked Hunter Foreshew’s game tonight,” Wood said.
“He was on the puck all night and he worked hard. He didn’t turn pucks over and he won a lot of faceoffs.
“I also thought Spencer Jones on our D corps was pretty good. He was steady and he made some simple plays. He is not a flashy hockey player by any means.
“Another guy I thought had a really, really good game was Alex Elie. He doesn’t do anything special and he is undersized a little bit, but he his hard on pucks and it was nice to see him get the fifth goal.”
For the second-straight game, the Rock had trouble solving Gold Miners goalie Gregory Brassard.
“We are pretty lucky,” Wood said.
“We have two pretty good goaltenders. Grey has kind of taken the puck and run with it. I watched him play multiple times this summer and I knew he was somebody who was high on our priority list.
“It is nice to have a goaltender who makes the saves he is supposed to make and keeps us in hockey games.”
With the victory, the Gold Miners now have a record of 2-1-0-0 against three Eastern Division foes.
“Even the game we lost (6-4 on home ice against the Powassan Voodoos), we were right there,” Wood said.
“We have played three good hockey games and when you can take four out of a possible six points, that’s pretty good. We can’t complain.”
The Rock, meanwhile, are sporting a record of 1-2-0-0 following Thursday’s loss.
Brassard stopped 16 of the 17 shots the Rock fired his way to earn the victory.
Masternak, who turned aside 14 of the 18 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss. In his 28:35 of relief, Dicks blocked 11 of the 12 shots directed his way.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Schneidmiller, Snyder and Seguin … The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 2-5 with the man advantage … The Rock did not dress defencemen Will Caston, Connor Mullins and Owen Shier, as well as forwards Darcy Haupt and Mahingan Decontie … Official attendance at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex was 303 … Thursday night’s other action saw the Canadians defeat the Soo Eagles 4-1 in Rayside-Balfour and the Wildcats edge the Blind River Beavers 4-3 in Elliot Lake.
Game Photos courtesy of Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)