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GALLERY: Oxner backstops Lumberjacks past Rock

HEARST — Liam Oxner stopped 34 of the 35 shots the Timmins Rock directed his way Sunday afternoon, as the Lumberjacks skated to a 3-1 victory at the Claude Larose Arena.


Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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It was the second win in three games against the Rock in Hearst for the Lumberjacks, who dropped a 7-2 decisions to the visitors Friday night.

Rock assistant coach James Daschuk admitted his team’s effort in Sunday afternoon’s contest was nowhere near as solid as it had been Friday night.

“The first time they beat us (Wednesday night), we talked about consistency,” he said.

“This is a perfect example of not being able to put together a streak of a couple of good games in a row.

“It is extremely frustrating to have an effort like we did today after Friday night’s performance.

“We are trying to pound into these guys the need for consistency and preparation, but some guys just refuse to listen to it.”

Lack of discipline, which was a huge problem in Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Lumberjacks, cropped up a number of times Sunday afternoon, as well, usually at inopportune times.

“We are our own worst enemy,” Daschuk said.

“Not only are we taking them at crucial times of the game, we are taking them while we are on the power play. That is not a recipe for a successful team right there.

“It is just too many guys being selfish. Just take pride in beating the other team and forget about this nonsense, slashes behind the play, 200 feet from our net. It is just silly.”

The Rock got on the scoreboard first Sunday afternoon, with Josh Dickson netting his seventh goal of the season at the 4:19 mark of the opening period.

It didn’t take the Lumberjacks long to get back on even terms, however, as Zachary Demers replied with his fifth goal of the season less than three minutes later to deadlock the score at 1-1.

The game remained tied through the first intermission, but the Lumberjacks took a lead they would not surrender just past the midway point of the second period.

Raphael Lajeunesse struck for a power-play marker, his fourth goal of the season, with the Lumberjacks enjoying a two-man advantage.

The Lumberjacks increased their lead to a pair of goals at the 7:11 mark of the third period when Jordyn Mughal stole the puck just inside the Hearst blue-line and raced off on a breakaway before depositing his first goal of the season into the Rock net.

Down a pair of goals, it almost looked like the Rock were trying to protect a two-goal lead instead of overcoming a two-goal deficit.

“Guys were refusing to shoot the puck,” Daschuk said.

“They wanted to make the fancy play instead of chipping the puck in and chasing it, play a gritty style.

“Sometimes we think we are a super skilled team, but that’s not the case. That’s not the type of team we are.

“There is a time to play the chip-and-chase game and we just didn’t want to play it today. We didn’t want to put ourselves in that situation where we might get banged up a bit, or where we had to work a little bit harder than them.”

Poor decision making contributed to at least two of the three Lumberjacks’ goals, as well.

“As far as puck management went today, we certainly didn’t have our A game,” Daschuk said.

“We were fighting the puck a little bit and then you tack on the bad decisions, as well, and everything was working against us.”

Even though Gavin McCarthy gave up three goals, the assistant coach agreed the goalie was one of the best Rock players on the ice Sunday afternoon.

“He saved our butts a number of times,” Daschuk said.

“This loss is not on him, he made a lot of big saves. We turned the puck over too much and gave them chances in the red zone about four or five times.

“Unfortunately, that is two games now where he got the start and our guys did not show up to play in front of him.”

Despite the loss, a number of other Rock players impressed their assistant coach with their effort Sunday afternoon.

“How many times can we mention our captain (Derek Seguin),” Daschuk said.

“It is like a broken record, but he is obviously playing well. Surks (Cameron Kosurko), again, has been playing good hockey and Riley Robitaille was huge for us. He is obviously not putting up the numbers, but the work that guy puts in every day is just phenomenal.”

In making 34 saves in the contest, Oxner picked up his fourth victory of the season and second of the six-game series against the Rock.

McCarthy, who stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.

ROCK 7 LUMBERJACKS 2

The Rock got goals from seven different players, none of whom were named Seguin or Dickson, en route to their 7-2 win over the Lumberjacks at the Claude Larose Arena Friday night.

“Again, I thought Robie (Robitaille) was fantastic in this game, and Surks (Kosurko),” Daschuk said.

“Even guys who don’t get mentioned very much, like our younger guys, Clarkie (Harry Clark) was good, and Forgie (Landon Deforge) had his first goal of the season, which was fantastic.

“Pigeon is an absolute beast, a real workhorse out there. He is slowly turning into one of the most popular guys on the team because of his work ethic and his ability to compete every single shift.

A three-goal first-period explosion got the Rock off on the right foot Friday night.

Deforge got the puck rolling when he netted his first NOJHL goal, an unassisted marker, at the 6:45 mark.

Then, just over six minutes later, Deforge made a beautiful play to set up Tyler Gilberds for his first goal of the season.

Less than three minutes later, Clark added his second goal of the campaign to put the Rock up 3-0.

At that point Lumberjacks coach Marc-Alain Begin opted to pull starting goalie Andrew Stephan, with Oxner coming on in relief.

That move seemed to settle the home side down and the buzzer sounded on the opening 20 minutes of play with the Rock still up by three goals.

Stephan returned to the Lumberjacks net to start the second period and he and his teammates were able to keep the Rock at bay until late in the frame.

Blue-liner Brendan Boyce struck for his fourth goal of the season at the 15:27 mark, however, to increase the Rock lead to four goals.

The Lumberjacks were finally able to get on the scoreboard a minute-and-a-half later when blue-liner Dylan Ford scored his first NOJHL goal to cut the Rock lead to 4-1 heading into the second intermission.

After two relatively peaceful periods that saw the two sides split four minor penalties, the final frame saw hostilities intensify, with referees Robert Gagnon and Christian Gratton making 15 calls in the final 20 minutes.

Given that number of infractions, amazingly only one of the four goals scored in the period came on the power play, while another was a shorthanded marker.

Zach Smith’s second goal of the season, at the 3:39 mark, restored the Rock’s four-goal advantage.

Less than four minutes later, the Lumberjacks were able to close the gap to 5-2 thanks to a Lajeunesse power-play marker, his third goal of the season.

Just over three minutes later, Tyler Schwindt struck for a shorthanded tally, his fifth goal of the season, to once again put the Rock in front by four goals.

And then with 5:29 remaining in the contest blue-liner Evan Beaudry picked up his first goal of the season to make the final score 7-2 in favour of the Rock.

Rock goalie Tyler Masternak, who turned aside 21 of the 23 shots he faced, earned his NOJHL-leading sixth win of the season.

Stephan, who started and finished the game, blocked 40 of the 47 shots the Rock directed his way and was tagged with the loss.

Oxner stopped all four shots he faced in his 4:22 of work on the night.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars in Sunday afternoon’s contest were Oxner, Demers and Lumberjacks blue-liner Adam Rajsigl, while Deforge, Boyce and Clark were honoured Friday night … Rock coach Corey Beer served the second game of his two-game suspension, picked up after he was ejected from Wednesday night’s contest, on Sunday … The Rock did not dress forward Tyler Patterson (lower-body injury) and blue-liner Felix Cadieux-Fredette (lower-body injury) on Sunday … The Rock went 0-6 on the power play Sunday, while the Lumberjacks were 1-7 with the man advantage. Friday night, the Rock went 0-4 on the power play, but did pick up a shorthanded goal, while the Lumberjacks were 1-0 with the man advantage … Sunday’s other contests saw the Soo Thunderbirds fly past the Express 4-1 in Espanola and the Canadians top the Blind River Beavers 5-1 in Rayside-Balfour … The Rock and the Lumberjacks will close out their six-game set at the McIntyre Arena on Tuesday, with an 8:30 p.m. start.

Game Photos: Paul Gagnon