By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Caleb Rich scored three goals and set up three others as the Rapids handed the Timmins Rock a 10-6 setback Saturday night at the Noelville Arena.
It was the third-straight loss and the fourth in the past five games for the reeling Rock and just the second victory of the season for the Rapids, who were playing their first game under new coach Dan Tremblay — who takes over from Moe Mantha, who has been named coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit.
The Rock actually got on the scoresheet first Saturday night, as defenceman Jared Hester scored his eighth goal of the season at the 2:48 mark of the opening period.
The lead did not last long, however, as the Rapids tied things up at 1-1 on Brennan Kelly’s 11th goal of the season 24 seconds later.
Rich’s first of his three goals on the night and 11th of the season, a shorthanded marker, less than two minutes later put the Rapids back in front 2-1.
Hester’s second of the night and ninth of the season got the Rock back on even terms midway through the opening period, but the Rapids retook the lead with 12 seconds remaining on the frame, as Brett McInall scored his 17thgoal of the season.
The Rapids pushed their lead to 5-2 by the middle of the second period, as Rich scored his second of the game and 12th of the season and then Quinn Robelle added his fifth goal of the season.
Aaron Kerr scored his 16th goal of the season, a power-play marker, late in the second period to cut the home side’s lead to 5-3, but McInall netted his second of the game and 18th of the season, the second shorthanded marker of the contest for the Rapids, 20 seconds later to send the Rapids to the dressing room with a 6-3 lead.
Andrew Green’s second goal of the season early in the third period pulled the Rock to within two goals and gave the visitors a brief flicker of hope.
That hope was quickly quashed, however, as the Rapids added a pair of goals to push their lead to 8-4.
Chris Atanas potted his eighth goal of the season at the 7:54 mark of the final period and then Rich completed his hat-trick by netting his 13th goal of the season four-and-a-half minutes later.
Zachary Kercz scored his 25th goal of the season a-minute-and-a-half later to cut the Rapids’ lead to 8-5, but again the Rapids replied quickly with two more goals to increase their advantage to 10-5.
Kelly scored his second of the game and 12th of the season just over a minute after Kercz had found the back of the net. Then Taylor Karr scored his eighth goal of the season 56 seconds later.
The Rock, who had scored the game’s first goal, got in the final word two minutes later when Ryan Theriault scored his 21st goal of the season, a power-play marker to make the final score 10-6 in favour of the Rapids.
Zach Mills started in net for the Rapids, but he was pulled after playing just 10:08 of the first period and stopping five of the seven shots he faced. Alec St. Georges, who finished up the game and stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced, earned the victory for the Rapids.
Devon Debastos started in net for the Rock, but he lasted just 10:55 of the first period and he stopped five of the seven shots he faced. Logan Ferrington, who came on and finished the game for the Rock, turned aside 20 of the 28 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock did not dress defencemen Andrew Castagna and Ryan Kerr, as well as forward Kyle Levis, The three stars of the game were Rich, McInall and St Georges … The Rock went 2-7 on the power-play, while the Rapids were 1-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Noelville Arena was 169 … Saturday’s other NOJHL action saw the Voodoos crush the Iroquois Falls Eskis 16-0 in Powassan, the Canadians blank the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 2-0 in Rayside-Balfour, the Eagles upset the Soo Thunderbirds 5-3 in Sault, Mich., and the Beavers edge the Elliot Lake Wildcats 3-2 in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Wednesday night when they host the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.