Hearst has had Timmins’ number so far this season
Max Griffioen scored a pair of goals as the Hearst Lumberjacks held on to edge the Timmins Rock 3-2 at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon and vault past their NOJHL East Division rivals in the standings.
Before Hearst fans get too excited, however, it is worth noting the Rock (21-5-1-1, third in the East Division standings) have five games in hand on the Lumberjacks (22-10-0-1, good for second in the East Division standings).
And Timmins has suffered just five regulation losses so far in the NOJHL’s 2019-20 campaign — three of which have come at the hands of the Lumberjacks, including a 5-2 setback in Hearst Friday night.
Rock coach Corey Beer knows the Lumberjacks have a solid squad, but he thinks they are beatable.
“They are physical out there and they have a hard-forechecking team, but I don’t know if it is what they do well,” he said.
“It is just sometimes our guys’ attention to detail, small things like stick on puck, knocking pucks down, boxing guys out in front of the net.
“You look at that last PK goal, again it is two guys who have played for me, one for three years and the other one coming back for his second year and they both missed assignments on the penalty kill in (Tyler) Gilberds and (Linden) Spencer.
“Don’t get me wrong, they have a good team over there but when we routinely shoot ourselves in the foot on that small stuff, it doesn’t end up well for us.
“And then we are chasing the rest of the night instead of both times being down a goal and having a chance to come back. Dumb mistakes end up in the back of our net.
“Right now, it is the guys who are not pulling their weight who are killing us.”
“Coming off the game in their building, we didn’t put forth a good effort, so we kind of wanted to get untracked, but I think what it comes down to is we had two lines that were going tonight,” Beer said.
“For whatever reason, the other guys didn’t want to work. When that happens, it might look like a lack of intensity, but it was just too much of an inconsistent effort top to bottom.
“I think what we saw late in the game, the (Derek) Seguin, (Josh) Dickson and (Cameron) Kosurko line, as well as the (Stewart) Parnell, (Tyler) Schwindt and (Phil) Caron line … those six gave us max effort all night.
“Those guys were full marks. They were incredible.
“You look at the cut down on the back end, too, after (Aidan) Milne got in the scrap, (Josh) Anderson, (Brendan) Boyce, (Eric) Moreau and (Evan) Beaudry down the stretch were outstanding for us.”
It was the Lumberjacks who found the back of the net first on Sunday afternoon, courtesy of Griffioen’s 19th goal of the season at the 4:49 mark of the opening period.
He then added his second goal of the afternoon and 20th of the season 2:12 into the middle frame.
The Rock finally got on the scoreboard with less than five minutes left in the period when blue-liner Josh Anderson netted his sixth goal of the season.
Any momentum the home side might have gained from that marker was lost midway through the third period, however, as Justin Miron scored a power-play goal — his second of the campaign — to restore Hearst’s two-goal advantage.
Just over six minutes later, the Rock were able to cut the Lumberjacks’ lead to a single goal and provide their fans with a little hope in the game’s final few minutes when Parnell found the back of the net for his five tally of the season.
The Rock pulled goalie Vance Meyer in favour of an extra attacker with two-and-a-half minutes remaining on the clock, but they were unable to secure the goal needed to force overtime.
Lumberjacks coach and general manager Marc Lafleur was pleased to see his squad overtake the Rock in the standings, but he knows Timmins has key games in hand.
“Being able to beat the Rock, who are ahead of us really — not in the standings because we have more games played, but they do have a higher winning percentage — so to win back-to-back against them, we are very happy,” he said.
“We also know that is one hell of a strong team on the other side, as well.”
Lafleur doesn’t feel his squad has been doing anything out of the ordinary against the Rock, despite their success.
“You know what it is, we are being opportunistic, No. 1, and No. 2 is we are getting some incredible performances from certain guys,” he said.
“For example, Friday night George Young was marvelous. Now, today, Liam Oxner stood on his head.
“It is just a matter of certain guys stepping up and being big.”
A number of players caught the coach’s eye for a little extra praise Sunday afternoon.
“Max Griffioen brings it every night,” Lafleur said.
“He has brought it every night now for three years. Guys like Mathew Eardley on the blue-line, as well, winning a lot of puck battles. Defensively, he is very sound.
“And ever since we have gotten Nick Bruno, he reminds me of (former Lumberjacks forward) Bradley Golant and it seems that line is clicking now, more so than before.”
The coach agreed his team did a solid job of keeping the Rock attackers to the outside, for the most part.
“We are getting better,” Lafleur said.
“We knew what we had to work on when the season started, so in that area we are getting better.
“I would like for us to win a few more puck battles in the corners, in our own zone, though, but it is a long process.
“We have to enjoy this victory today and then come back with our work boots on Tuesday, go to practice and get better.”
Oxner blocked 32 of the 34 shots the Rock directed his way to earn his 14th victory of the season, while Meyer stopped 16 of the 19 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
Friday night, the Lumberjacks got a goal and an assist each from Jake Desando, George Young and Dominic Dumas as they sent the 749 fans in attendance home happy.
The Rock actually found the back first in the contest, with Seguin scoring his 17th goal of the season.
Goals by David Gobeil, his eighth of the season, and Desando, his 13th of the campaign, before the end of the first period allowed the Lumberjacks to tie the score and take a lead they would not surrender, however.
Dumas’11th goal of the season, a shorthanded marker, midway through the second period put Hearst in front 3-1.
Less than four minutes later, Dickson scored a power-play marker, his 16th goal of the campaign, to pull the Rock back to within a goal.
Two-and-a-half minutes later, Young potted his second goal of the season to send the Lumberjacks to the dressing room for the second-period intermission with a 4-2 lead.
Midway through the third period, the Lumberjacks closed out the scoring with Eardley netting a power-play marker, his third goal of the season.
Oxner stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced while picking up his 13th win of the season, while Rock goalie Tyler Masternak — who turned aside 24 of the 29 shots directed his way — was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of Sunday afternoon’s contest were Griffioen, Anderson and Bruno, while Young, Oxner and Bruno were honoured Friday night … The Rock debuted their new third jerseys Sunday afternoon and they will wear them on a number of occasions throughout the season … The Rock were forced to kill of a seven-minute shorthanded situation in the second period when Milne was tossed from the contest after being assessed a double minor for cross-checking and instigating, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct, while the subject of his ire, Gobeil was tagged with two-minute minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct for failure to go directly to the penalty box … Attendance at the McIntyre Arena for Sunday’s contest was 876 … The Rock made a number of roster moves in the final days of November, with the biggest being the acquisition of Kirkland Lake Gold Miners captain Quinn Schneidmiller in exchange for a player development fee. The 20-year-old blue-liner is currently out with an upper-body injury, however, and won’t likely make his Rock debut until Dec. 12 in Kirkland Lake. The Rock also acquired 20-year-old blue-liner Connor Loft from the Georgetown Raiders, of the OJHL, and then immediately shipped him back to his former NOJHL squad, the French River Rapids. Speaking of Georgetown, the Rock traded forward Rhys Chiddenton to the Raiders and also sent forward Kain Harrietha to the PJHL’s Huntsville Otters … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they host the NOJHL-leading Powassan Voodoos — losers of three of their last four games — at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.