Timmins Rock forward Brant Romaniuk celebrates teammate Kaeden McArthur’s second-period goal during Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. McArthur, circling the net after beating French River Rapids goalie Elijah Grant for the second of his two goals in the game and his 16th of the season. That marker stood up to be the game-winner as the Rock went on to defeat the Rapids 7-2. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc
The Timmins Rock got two goals each from Kaeden McArthur and Jack Anderson as they rolled to a 7-2 victory over the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.
It allowed the NOJHL East Division-leading Rock (18-9-2-0) to increase their lead on the idle Voodoos (16-10-0-2) to four points, although Powassan has a game in hand.
Meanwhile, the Rapids (8-22-1-0) find themselves tied with the Iroquois Falls Storm (8-23-0-1) for the final playoff spot in the division, after going winless on a three-game weekend road trip.
Assistant coach James Daschuk liked what he saw from the Rock Sunday afternoon.
“We outshot them pretty big (37-23), but more importantly we didn’t give up many shots for the first time in a while,” he said.
“We had a lot of possession today, but kind of got sloppy in the third period. When you are up a bit, that tends to happen.”
Rapids goalie Elijah Grant, whose 58-save performance helped his squad upset the Rock 2-1 in French River on Nov. 9, could not duplicate the feat Sunday afternoon.
McArthur got the Rock on the scoreboard first, when he beat Grant for his 15th goal of the season 6:17 into the opening period.
The Rapids were able to tie things up eight-and-a-half minutes later, with Nolan Masson scoring his eighth goal of the season.
Anderson’s fifth goal of the season, 2:57 into the middle frame, put the Rock back in front and they would not surrender the lead the rest of the game.
McArthur’s second goal of the afternoon and 16th of the season, just over two minutes later, increase the Rock advantage to 3-1.
That goal resulted in Grant getting the hook and Michael O’Sullivan coming on in relief for the Rapids.
The goaltending change didn’t slow the Rock down much, however, as Mason Svarich added his 17th goal of the season five minutes later.
It took just 23 seconds for the Rapids to get that one back, as Jesse Lefebvre scored his eighth goal of the season.
But Anderson’s second goal of the afternoon, and sixth of the season, put the Rock up 5-2 heading into the second intermission.
Grant returned to the Rapids’ net to start the third period and finished the game between the pipes.
A pair of power-play markers helped the Rock close out the scoring in the third period.
Lucas Lowe netted his fifth goal of the season shortly after the midway mark in the frame and Liam Wells added his 17th tally of the season seven-and-a-half minutes later.
After a split of a tough home-and-home series with the Hearst Lumberjacks, the Rock were looking to make sure they didn’t suffer a letdown against the Rapids Sunday afternoon.
“We are just trying to find a level of consistency, string a few (wins) together,” Daschuk said.
“We really didn’t like our game on Thursday (in Hearst). It was arguably the worst game of the year for us and French River always plays us pretty tough. So, there were a lot of little things we didn’t like about our game Thursday we were trying to clean up.
“Getting the first goal was definitely something we needed today. We had been getting away from our game plan a little bit and we needed to play a full game.”
Grant’s 58-save performance was one of the keys to the Rapids beating the Rock in their earlier meeting this season, so Daschuk was happy to see his squad get a few pucks past him early Sunday.
“We had been missing the net too often high, so just putting some shots into his pads hoping to generate rebounds was one of the things we had spoken about before the game,” he said.
“It happened early in the first period when Poolie (Elijah Pool) got a shot off his pad and it bounced over to Lowsie’s stick and we got a good chance from that, so we knew it was something to look for, not every shot low but something we could quickly expose at one point.”
The assistant coach was also happy to see some secondary scoring for the Rock lineup Sunday afternoon.
“Ando’s game was great today,” Daschuk said.
“He is a meat and potatoes guy, one of those hard workers. He is not going to score 30 (goals), but he is pretty well rounded. He has been big on the penalty kill for us lately.
“Their line, with Ando, Ryno (Hayden Rynard) and Lowsie (Lucas Lowe) was really in their face today, a big presence down low. We talked about having a simple cycle, wearing their guys down. It was their third game in three nights.
“Even Friday night, I thought those guys were good, so it was nice to see them get rewarded. When your third line is putting the puck in the net, good things are going to happen.”
Kyle Trottier, the Rock’s best shot-blocking blue-liner, picked up a pair of assists in the contest, as well.
“He is arguably one of our most valuable assets,” Daschuk said.
“He just adds a whole different dimension to our group. You know he is back in the lineup and he comes off hurting every shift, screaming and yelling. The guys feed off it.
“For him to get rewarded with a couple of points, there is not a more deserving guy.
“There is a reason that guy has two NOJHL championships (2022 with the Soo Thunderbirds, 2023 with the Rock).”
Rumour has it Trottier has a place set aside in his trophy case for a third-straight NOJHL championship, as well.
The Rock were forced to finish Sunday afternoon’s contest with five blue-liners after Chase Longhurst-McIntyre left the game due to illness.
“I thought the other five guys (Felix Cadieux-Fredette, Elijah Pool, Tenzin Nyman, Kyle Trottier and Ayden Trottier) did a good job stepping up,” Daschuk said.
“It’s not easy with five. You have a let’s call it a minute and a half shift, well one of those two guys has got to catch their breath and go right back out there. So, to do that for two periods is tough and we had to do it last game, as well, after Poolie got kicked out.”
Anderson is not known for his offensive prowess and figures he was about 13 years old the last time he had a hat-trick.
“It felt great to get a couple of goals today,” he said, following Sunday afternoon’s victory.
“Things just worked out. My linemates fed me the puck and we played really well together. Overall, we had a good offensive game as a line and a team, as well, getting all those goals.”
Anderson has been playing with Rynard and Lowe for a little while now and they seem to have developed some chemistry.
“Ryno is just a big body, he is good at using his body to move the puck, he is good on the wall, getting the puck out to me or Lowesie,” he said.
“Lowesie is good with the puck, as well, and he is a really good skater. He is good down low, beneath the net, kind of just wheeling around and moving the puck.”
Anderson admitted it was a relief to see pucks starting to go in early against Grant, after the difficulty the Rock had beating him in French River.
“That goal from K-Mac was real nice and once that went in, all hell broke loose,” he said.
Anderson admitted he was thinking about a third goal after he got the first two, but he wasn’t dwelling on it.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to get another one,” he said.
“I was trying my hardest but we got the win and that’s all that really matters.”
Dryden Riley stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced to earn his ninth win of the season for the Rock.
Grant, who turned aside 28 of the 33 shots the Rock directed his way in his 45:02 of work, was tagged with the loss, while O’Sullivan blocked two of the four shots he saw in his 14:58 of relief.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Anderson, McArthur and Svarich … The Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Rapids were 0-1 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 811 … Sunday’s only other action saw the Greater Sudbury Cubs double up the Paper Kings 6-3 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they host the Espanola Paper Kings at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel