Timmins Rock defenceman Will Caston uses his body to shield the puck away from Powassan Voodoos forward Tyson Gilmour during the first period of Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Gilmour’s goal at the 6:23 mark of the third period proved to be the game-winner, as the NOJHL-leading Voodoos went on to defeat the Rock 5-2. The Voodoos concluded their three-game swing through the North with a pair of wins and a double-overtime loss. The Rock will host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena on Wednesday. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The loss the Timmins Rock suffered on the scoreboard late Sunday afternoon might pale in comparison to the one they were dealt late in the contest.
Already injury ravaged, the Rock lost starting goalie Eric Jackson to what appeared to be a serious injury with 3:13 remaining in the contest that saw the home side drop a 5-2 decision to the NOJHL-leading Powassan Voodoos.
Jackson was run over on a play that saw Voodoos forward Kobe Desmond score a power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season.
The crowd of 728 fans rained down a loud and lengthy chorus of boos when neither referee Evan McCrory nor Matthew Walters opted to call goaltender interference on the play.
The fact that Jackson — arguably the Rock’s best player — had to be helped off the ice and then transported to Timmins and District Hospital by ambulance didn’t do much to improve the crowd’s disposition.
Affiliate goalie Jordan Yaremchuk, who normally plays for the GNML’s Timmins Majors, came on in relief of Jackson and finished up the game.
Fan unrest had been brewing since late in the second period and it escalated throughout the third period as the two North Bay-based referees made call after call that they disagreed with, or failed to make calls they felt were obvious.
Rock coach Corey Beer was tossed from the game midway through the third period after being assessed a GRM gross misconduct penalty for making a travesty of the game.
Beer took exception to a too many men on the ice minor penalty assessed to his squad.
Late in the second period, Rock forward Tyler Planetta had been ejected from the game after being assessed a two-minute minor penalty for checking from behind and a GM55 game misconduct.
Perhaps some of the frustration can be attributed to the fact the afternoon started off on a positive note for the Rock and their fans.
Comedian Gerry Dee, in town for a team fundraiser Sunday night, took part in the puck-dropping ceremony prior to the start of the contest.
Then, the Rock — who defeated the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 5-1 Saturday — jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead.
A.J. Campbell got the puck rolling when he scored his third goal of the season at the 3:47 mark of the opening frame.
Planetta followed with his second of the season with 37 seconds remaining on the clock.
Rock assistant coach Marc Bisson was pleased with how his squad started the game.
“We had a great first period,” he said.
“The guys showed up ready to play. We kind of rode the momentum from Saturday night’s game. We managed to score a few goals and get the lead.”
The Rock were able to hold that advantage until the 8:46 mark of the second period, when Quinton Loon-Stewardson scored his 10th goal of the season to get the Voodoos on the scoreboard.
It took the Voodoos just 40 seconds of the third period to tie things up at 2-2, as Shane Beaulieu scored a power-play maker, his 12th goal of the season with the Rock playing two men short.
Less than six minutes later, Tyson Gilmour scored what would prove to be the game-winning marker, his 13th goal of the campaign.
Voodoos sniper Harrison Israels was then awarded a penalty shot after it was ruled a Rock defender had smothered the puck in the Timmins crease.
Israels made no mistake, beating Jackson for his 21st goal of the season to increase the Powassan advantage to two goals.
Six seconds later, Desmond closed out the scoring to make the final 5-2 in favour of the visitors.
“We got into some penalty trouble and that’s where we lost the momentum,” Brisson said.
“The first five minutes of the second period, we kind of slowed down a little bit. We weren’t doing the little things that led to us being successful in the first period.
“You have to give credit to them. They probably made a few adjustments after the first period. We still had a pretty good second period.”
Affiliate player Dryden Rivet (Timmins Majors) showed a lot of heart in the third period while killing a penalty when he went down to block a shot, was injured on the play and then — even though he could barely move — went down to block a second shot.
“We have been blessed to have APs like Dryden with all the injuries we have had this year,” Bisson said.
“The guys we have gotten from the Majors and from Kapuskasing have been able to walk in and contribute right away. They are willing to block shots or do whatever we ask of them.”
With the normally offensively challenged Planetta scoring in back-to-back games, is he eyeing the Rock’s consecutive game scoring streak?
“I hope so,” Bisson said.
“You can’t say enough good things about Tyler Planetta. He is a leader on and off the ice. He is not a captain or an assistant, but the players definitely look to him for leadership.”
A number of other Rock players impressed Bisson with their effort Sunday afternoon, as well.
“C.J. Bradburn has been good game-in and game-out during this last stretch,” he said.
“He was a little slow coming back from his injury, but his speed is now back to where it was before he got hurt.
“Another guy I will mention is Jordan Picard. He is playing some great hockey for us and really contributing.
“Riley Robitaille, another guy we brought in from the Majors, has been exceptional for us, especially on the forecheck.”
As the Rock’s goaltender coach, Bisson was concerned with the injury to Jackson and its potential long-term impact on the team if it results in him missing significant time.
“He has been amazing for us and hopefully his injury isn’t too bad,” he said.
Jackson (1,215:00, 8-9-1-1, 0, 2.47, .909) has played more minutes than any other goalie in the NOJHL so far this season and he ranks sixth in goals against average and ninth in saves percentage.
Voodoos coach Beau Moyer was happy to see his team end a tough three-game road trip on a winning note.
“It’s a grind with three games in three days, especially with a long bus ride Hearst, but if you break it down period by period, we played seven really good periods out of nine this weekend,” he said.
“On the whole, we are really happy.”
Moyer wasn’t surprised with the way the Rock came at his Voodoos early in the contest.
“You know what, Corey is probably the best coach in this league,” he said.
“He gets everything he can out of his guys. They are dealing with injuries, but they pushed hard and put some relentless pressure on our D.
“Our D adapted in the second and third periods, but they had a good push at the start of the game.”
What did Moyer tell his team between the second and third period to cause them to turn up the intensity in the game’s final 20 minutes?
“I am big on rewarding the boys with days off and they realized if we could come away with the two points they wouldn’t have to skate until Thursday,” he said.
“It gives them a few days off and they we will get prepared to play Kirkland Lake on Saturday.”
Things did not start off the way the Voodoos had been hoping on Sunday.
“Our game plan was to come out with a good start and try to get a one- or two-goal lead and make them play catch up,” Moyer said.
“I was a little worried once we got down 2-0 and they took away our pace of the game. We weren’t able to utilize our skating or our skill.”
The coach was happy with the contributions he got from a number of Voodoos players Sunday afternoon.
“We got great mileage from the line of Beaulieu, Israels and Gilmour. When those three are going like they were today (Sunday), it just filters out throughout our whole group.”
While the game became chippie in the third period, Moyer was pleased with the restraint shown by his Voodoos.
“Our guys have learned over the course of the season that they have to control their emotions and play between the whistles,” he said.
“It was just two good hockey teams with a bunch of fierce competitors. That is just part of the game.”
Christian Cicigoi stopped 24 of the 26 shots the Rock fired his way to earn his 13th win of the season for the Voodoos.
Jackson, who turned aside 31 of the 36 shots he faced before having to leave the game was tagged with the loss for the Rock.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Voodoos defenceman Cameron Moore (two assists), Jackson and Gilmour … The Rock did not dress defenceman Jared Hester (lower-body injury), James Redmond (upper-body injury) and Eric Paquette (lower-body injury), as well as forwards Derek Seguin (fractured jaw) and Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury), and goalie Tyler Masternak (upper-body injury) … In addition to Yaremchuk and Rivet, the Rock dressed affiliates Cameron Svec (Timmins Majors) and Austin Holmes (Timmins Majors) … The Rock were 0-4 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 3-10 with the man advantage … Sunday’s other action saw the Soo Thunderbirds dump the Express 5-3 in Espanola and the Blind River Beavers edge the Canadians 3-2 in double overtime in Rayside-Balfour … The Rock will return to action on Wednesday night when they host the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.