By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – It hasn’t taken Landen Matechuk long to make an impact in a Timmins Rock uniform.
Acquired just before the Jan. 10 trade deadline, the Fort Langley, B.C., native made his debut in the maroon, gold, white and black at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night.
The 6-0, 190-pound, left-hand shooting power forward earned assists on defenceman Andrew Castagna’s first two goals, as the Rock earned a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime victory over the visiting Powassan Voodoos.
The presence of the 20-year-old Matechuk in the lineup was not the lone reason the Rock were able to earn their first victory of the season against the division-rival Voodoos, but it certainly didn’t hurt either.
“It felt good to get a couple of points under my belt tonight, but more importantly, the team was able to come back and get the win,” Matechuk said, following Saturday night’s victory.
“We pulled together and killed off some big penalties and came up clutch on the power play to force overtime.”
Matechuk was paired with Aaron Kerr and Tristan Salesse on the Rock’s No. 1A line to open the game but was switched to the team’s No. 1B unit with Jordan Rendle and Zachary Kercz as the third period progressed.
“As long as everyone is working hard and passing the puck, any line combination is going to be successful,” Matechuk said.
“Everyone on this team works hard, passes the puck and we were really successful in the third period.”
Acquired from the English River Miners (24, 15-18-33, 30), of the SIJHL, Matechuk arrived in Timmins on Jan. 11 and got into his first practice with his new team on Jan. 12.
“I had sort of left things up to the coaches and the general manager,” he said, when asked if the trade had caught him off guard.
“They deal with all that stuff, but I had a really good time in English River. I spent a year there and the community was awesome.”
Matechuk has only been able to call Timmins home for just over a week, but he likes what he has seen during that short time.
“I am really excited to be here in Timmins,” he said.
Matechuk is the fourth B.C.-born player on the Rock roster, joining Rendle, Castagna and blue-liner Joe Olson, which has made his adjustment to his new team and new community a little easier.
“I know some of the guys from back home, so they have really helped me get settled in,” he said.
“Everyone on the team has been really awesome to me. They have been showing me around town and making me feel really at home.”
So, how does Timmins compare to Fort Langley, B.C.?
“It is a little bit smaller and a little bit colder, since I am from the west coast, but the hockey fans are great up here,” Matechuk said.
“That’s why I love playing hockey in Ontario, is the fans’ love for the game.”
Matechuk, who already has a good start on what should be an impressive playoff beard, feels the Rock have what it will take for a good, long post-season run.
“I have only been a part of this team for the one game, but if this one game is any representation of how the rest of the season is going to go, I am really excited,” he said.
Matechuk, who was named third star Saturday night, has impressed the Rock coaching staff with his work ethic, leadership and skills.
“He is a great skater and a power forward who has a lot of skills,” said Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“He has a great shot and even in practice you could tell he really competes. His game is elevated, and his effort is incredible.”
Matechuk and his Rock teammates will take on the Crunch in a home-and-home series scheduled to begin Friday night at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane and then continue Saturday night at the McIntyre Arena.
Game time for both contests is set for 7:30 p.m.