NOJHL-leading Rock blank Express

The NOJHL-leading Timmins Rock picked up where they left off prior to the Christmas break, blanking the Express 4-0 at the Regional Recreation Complex Friday night.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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Despite the fact the Rock have now gone 140 minutes and 13 seconds without surrendering a goal, dating back to a 4-1 loss to the Voodoos in Powassan on Dec. 15, coach and general manager Brandon Perry was not happy with what he saw from his troops.

“I am happy for the guys, back at it, the first one obviously we expected to be a little sloppy,” he said.

“It certainly wasn’t as clean as we wanted it to be, especially after the week (of practice) we had, the way things had been progressing.

“As the week went on, we got better and we looked really good our last two practices, Wednesday and Thursday.

“We just expected a little bit more tonight.”

Pressed on what the Rock did well to earn the 4-0 victory, Perry was at a loss to find something he was completely happy with after the contest.

“Not a whole lot, to be honest with you,” he said.

“I mean … yeah, not a whole lot. For whatever reason, it was just sloppy, a really sloppy game.”

The Rock jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead Friday night, outshooting the Express 21-9 in the process.

Tyler Gilberds scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal just 52 seconds into the contest.

It was the ninth goal of the season for the Georgetown, Ont., native.

Blue-liner Bode Dunford added his sixth goal of the season just under nine minutes later.

Henry Brock followed with his eighth goal of the campaign 33 seconds later to close out the scoring in the frame and send the Rock to the dressing room for the first intermission up 3-0.

That goal spelled the end of the night for Express starting goalie Dylan Kosik, who was lifted in favour of Vaughn LeDrew.

Following a scoreless middle frame, Riley Brousseau added an unassisted marker, his 14th goal of the season, midway through the third period to close out the scoring and make the final 4-0 in favour of the Rock.

Perry admitted it was a little strange to be playing an opponent they had not seen yet this season, as they played the first of 12 contests against West Division opponents.

“Give them credit, they competed hard,” he said.

“They were short. I think they only had eight forwards and five D. Man, they worked, they worked extremely hard.

“We just didn’t match their compete level, or their work ethic. We were just sloppy. Our breakouts were just so sloppy.”

Despite his overall disappointment with his squad, there were a couple individual players Perry singled out for praise following the victory, starting with his goaltender.

“Gavin McCarthy was fantastic,” he said.

“Early on in the game, that first shift, he made two huge saves that could have been a turning point in the game.

“I thought the line of Nicholas Frederick, Nolan Ring and Justin Charette was fantastic all night. They certainly worked hard.

“Other guys had moments, but they just weren’t consistent enough.”

Blue-liner Eric Moreau, acquired from the OJHL’s Lindsay Muskies prior to the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Jan. 10 trade deadline, picked up an assist 52 seconds into his second go round with the Rock.

“Eric was here for a long time (125 regular season, eight playoff games) before he left,” Perry said.

“He knows most of the systems. Obviously, there are few tweaks and stuff, but he picks it up really quick. He is a really smart player.

“I just love the way he competes. I love what he brings to our team.”

The Rock’s other deadline acquisition, blue-liner Carson Cox, was not in the lineup Friday night, as he was serving the sixth game of an eight-game suspension he picked up for a head-contact incident in a Dec. 10 contest with the Hearst Lumberjacks.

He will not be eligible to make his Rock debut until Dec. 19 in Sault Ste. Marie when they play the second half of a two-game road trip against the West Division-leading Thunderbirds.

“Carson Cox has an exceptional skill level,” Perry said.

“He looked really good this week in practice. I can’t wait to get him in the lineup.”

McCarthy, who stopped all 27 shots he faced, picked up his second shutout and 18th win of the season.

Kosik, who blocked 13 of the 16 shots the Rock directed his way in his 10:17 in the net, was tagged with the loss.

LeDrew turned aside 32 of the 33 shots he faced in his 49:43 of relief.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were McCarthy, LeDrew and Brousseau … Both the Rock and the Express went 0-2 on the power play … Official attendance at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex was 70 … Friday night’s other action saw the Powassan Voodoos drop a 4-0 decision to the Eagles in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the Elliot Lake Red Wings soar past the Rapids 6-1 in French River and the Thunderbirds triple the Greater Sudbury Cubs 6-2 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will return to action on Tuesday night when they host the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m.