SUDBURY, Ont. – Since stepping in behind the bench as head coach of the Timmins Rock two years ago, Corey Beer has built an impressive squad that has battled hard in their quest for a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League championship.
Boasting over 50 wins while competing in the ever-tight NOJHL East Division, Beer’s team has played even better in the playoffs.
Producing a combined dozen postseason victories the past two seasons, they upset regular season title holder Powassan in 2018 before falling to eventual league title holder Cochrane then did likewise vs. Hearst in 2019 taking the ultimate NOJHL champs to a seventh and deciding game.
Now with the upcoming 2019-20 campaign fast approaching, Timmins will look to take things to the next level in front of the McIntyre Arena faithful, who helped the Rock lead the league in attendance figures the past three seasons.
Here’s some insight from coach Beer as he gives his thoughts on his squad in this latest NOJHL team preview.
NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2019-20 season?
COREY BEER: I think were a team that would like to build off of last years success. We were one of the younger teams last season and took steps in the right direction. We’ve brought back a great nucleus from that roster and combined with new recruits and acquisitions we feel we’re on the right track for this upcoming season.
NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on the club as you near the start of another season.
CB: Thus far its been an intense training camp. Guys are pushing one another. Returning guys want more responsibility and new guys are pushing for spots higher in the lineup. So far, the pace has been great. It’s definitely a good starting point for us.
NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you look to be play a pivotal role on the club in 2019-20?
CB: I think anytime you can return your captain its a huge deal for any organization. Derek Seguin enters his third year with this program and has his sights set on leading us to something special. The way this player leads, on and off the ice, is very special. His game on ice is that of a complete 200-foot player and his production is second to none. Josh Anderson, one of the finest skaters to play junior hockey returns for his third year on the back end. Coming off a great offensive year for us, he is looking to add to that and help groom our young defence group. He is a player that while contributing offensively, is also able to match up against opposing teams’ top players. Were lucky to have him back for his 20-year-old season. Finally, the return of Ty Masternak in net is such a huge thing for this club. Setting the single season shutout record was but a bit example of what Ty can do for this team. He has been a rock, no pun intended, in our net since arriving here. A workhorse in the net and puts the time in off the ice at honing his craft. The return of all three players for their third year is not only great for the immediate season, but an example of what young players can grow into with our program. Leaders both for our team and in the community, its a privilege to be able to coach these young men.
NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you expect to perform well in the league?
CB: For new players, we have quite a few coming in but one that Rock fans would already know would be Rhys Chiddenton. He came up with us as an affiliate player in last years playoffs and at 15 was quickly inserted into our lineup. A young man who is extremely driven and has great offensive tools. Were very high on this young man and think he’ll have a terrific year for us. Rhys is a 2003 birth year who is 5’10”, 161lbs and hails from Campbellville Ont. He had three points in two regular season games last year while adding two more goals in six playoff games. He played last season with the Mississauga Reps minor midget team where he was drafted in the ninth round by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL.
NOJHL: The NOJHL East standings were extremely tight last season. How was it competing in such a tight conference?
CB: It’s one of the tighter races I’ve ever been a part of. It certainly made our team better knowing you were playing basically playoff hockey the entire second half of the season. Since joining the Rock, I’ve seen the league has had great parity. It’s such a great thing for this league. Makes for great hockey, night in and night out.
NOJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?
CB: I think for us, as oppose to setting goals, our team uses periodization and looks at how were playing over 10-game stretches. Possession numbers, faceoffs, special teams, etc. These are the ways we like to judge how our team is playing. We know what our end goal is; its the same for every team. But you have to play the games, and recognize the room for growth along the way. Not just look for the light at the end of the tunnel. You have to embrace the grind.
NOJHL: What are one or two highlights in your time with the team?
CB: For myself personally, two big ones stand ouy. One is pretty obvious, when Ty Gilberds, now back with the club, scored the OT winner in Game 6 vs Powassan back in 2019. The atmosphere in the McIntyre Arena was something I’ve never seen. The “Go Rock Go” chants lasted 10-15 minutes after the handshakes. It certainly shows how special this city and fan base is. The second, a bit of a different feeling, when we lost in Game 7 vs. Hearst last year. Grabbing hold of players like Derek Seguin, Ty Masternak, Riley Robiltaille, etc. The young men who battled through everything all season but didn’t reach our ultimate goal. Telling each one of them how proud i was of them, telling them how they made me a better coach, telling them how much you love and care about them. Those are the moments coaching gives you. Win or lose, you can’t replace the relationships you gain with your players and staff. Its lifelong, and life changing. Just because you lose, doesn’t change the relationship.