Photo: Dal Photography
The Timmins Rock blew a 2-0 first-period lead and went on to drop a 4-2 decision to the Rapids at the Noelville Community Centre Saturday night.
It was just the second regulation loss of the season and first setback on the road this season for the Rock (12-2-1-0), who now trail the Powassan Voodoos (12-2-2-1) by four points atop the NOJHL’s East Division standings but still have two games in hand.
The Rock outshot the Rapids 17-12 during the opening 20 minutes of play and built up a 2-0 lead, but assistant coach Marc Bisson didn’t feel his squad was especially sharp during the first eight minutes of the frame.
“Then, in the second half of the first period, we really took control of the game and our forecheck was better,” he said.
“We were causing them to make some mistakes and getting some good chances.
“(Rock goalie) Gavin (McCarthy) made a few big saves and he was exceptional for us tonight, but he made a few great saves in the first period.”
Timmins native Justin Charette opened the scoring in the contest when he notched his third goal of the season at the 7:38 mark.
Nicholas Frederick followed with his third goal of the campaign just over four minutes later and the Rock carried their 2-0 advantage into the first intermission.
“We came out of the first period with the two-goal lead, but then in the second period we just made some mental errors,” Bisson said.
“I think some of our guys definitely have to look themselves in the mirror because there was an effort issue.
“I don’t like saying it, but there were some guys who didn’t put in the effort that we expect (from them) and that we have been getting.”
The Rapids pulled to within a goal at the 3:25 mark of the second period, as Adam Boucher scored his first goal of the season.
Then, with less than three minutes remaining in the frame Josh Russell scored the first of his two goals on the night and third of the season to tie things up at 2-2.
As bad as the Rock played in the second period, the game was deadlocked and there for the taking, with a little better effort.
“We just couldn’t get the momentum back,” Bisson said.
“They took the momentum from us early in the third period. I thought we gave it a good push toward the end of the game. I thought we had a few good chances but their goalie (Cole Sheffield) made a few big saves.”
Levi Siau’s eighth goal of the season, just 24 seconds into the third period, put the Rapids in front by a goal and ensured the Rock would be playing catch-up hockey the rest of the way.
Russell then provided the Rapids with a little insurance when he scored his second goal of the night and fourth of the season just over four minutes later.
The Rock pulled goalie Gavin McCarthy in favour of an extra attacker in the game’s dying minutes, but they were not able to narrow the gap.
The Rock were without the services of forward Nicolas Pigeon Saturday night, as he was suspended after being assessed a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct during Friday night’s 8-2 win over the Cochrane Crunch.
Despite the loss, there were a number of Rock players who impressed Bisson Saturday night.
“I thought Justin Charette, Dylan McElhinny and Eric Barnard were really good tonight,” he said.
“They gave us a couple of boosts, not just on Justin’s goal. That line had some jump and they provided us with some energy at times.
“I thought Liam Wells played another good game, as well, as did (Daniel) Beaupre. He was hard on the puck and hard to play against.”
Sheffield turned aside 43 of the 45 shots the Rock directed his way to earn his fourth win of the season.
McCarthy, who stopped 40 of the 44 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Sheffield, Siau and Russell … The Rock went 0-1 on the power play, while the Rapids were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Noelville Community Centre was 135 … Saturday’s other scores saw the Lumberjacks double up the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-2 in Hearst and the Soo Thunderbirds edge the Beavers 5-4 in overtime in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Thursday night when they travel to Kirkland Lake for a game against the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex. The next home game will see the Rock host the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 3 p.m.