ANDY CORNEAU/OJHL IMAGES The Timmins Rock have acquired defenceman Gregory Arnburg, shown here in action during a game against the Markham Royals on Jan. 14, 2018, from the Lindsay Muskies, of the OJHL, in exchange for a player development fee. The 1999-birth-year right-hand shooting blue-liner will likely be in the lineup when the Rock open the second half of their 2018-19 NOJHL campaign against the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena on Tuesday. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
The Timmins Rock — like most NOJHL squads — were busy in the hours leading up to the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Jan. 10 trade deadline.
One day after shipping 1998-birth-year blue-liner James Redmond to the Perth Blue Wings, of the CCHL, the Rock acquired 1999-birth-year defenceman Gregory Arnburg from the OJHL’s Lindsay Muskies.
Both moves were made in exchange for player development fees, with the Rock not only gaining an extra year on the pair of transactions, but also a little more size.
At 6-1 and 180 pounds, Arnburg is slightly larger than fellow right-hand shooting D-man Redmond, who stands 5-11 and weighs in at 174 pounds.
Arnburg (36, 3-8-11, 51), a native of Oshawa, would seem to offer a little more offensive upside and toughness than Redmond (14, 0-2-2, 6), who was in his second season with the Rock.
Rock coach Corey Beer, also an Oshawa native, is quite familiar with his team’s latest acquisition.
“He is an Oshawa boy and a guy I know pretty well,” Beer said.
“I am pretty familiar with his game from when he was growing up and he has played a couple of years there with Lindsay.
“He is 6-1 and has a sturdy build. He is a right-shot defenceman who has good transition ability and skating ability.
“Greg is going to be able to play a shutdown role for us and he has a little bit of nastyness, a little bit of jam, a little bit of bite we were kind of in need of back there.
“He is going to be a good addition to our back end. He really is one of those guys who players gravitate to off the ice. He is a good locker room guy with a good personality. He always has a smile on his face.
“Whenever trade deadline rolls around, it is always a tense time for guys who might be worried they are on their way out, or that somebody is coming in to take their job.
“Now, with the moves being made and Greg coming in, we can really settle down and look forward to playing better hockey. He is going to be a huge part of that for us.
“Greg has the ability to break up a cycle defensively and that is something we have had trouble with, so he is going to be a huge asset for us.”
Arnburg will join a Rock blue-line that includes Josh Anderson (34, 7-24-31, 55), Will Caston (35, 1-15-16, 51), Luka Bolduc (32, 5-1-6, 19), Eric Moreau (30, 0-5-5, 12), Owen Shier (33, 3-7-10, 12) and Carson Burlington (29, 1-1-2, 20).
Arnburg, of course, will not be the first Oshawa-area hockey product to wear the maroon, gold and white of the Rock.
“He knows a few of the guys, maybe not from playing with them, but he skates at Twist (Performance and Wellness Centre) Whitby, so he would know Will Caston and Josh Anderson,” Beer said.
“Josh Dickson came out a few times, so he is familiar with a few of our guys. I am sure that kind of continuity is going to make him feel pretty comfortable. He probably knows (goalie) Tyler Masternak and (forward) Tyler Hutchinson, with them being Oshawa boys. That helps, as well.
“There are four of us now up here in Northern Ontario, the Oshawa invasion.”
It should be noted there are currently no plans in place to rename the Rock the Generals North.
Redmond began his Rock career during the 2017-18 campaign (25, 2-5-7, 6) but his season was cut short by a shoulder injury that required off-season surgery.
“James was a good, steady, two-way defenceman,” Beer said.
“With the shoulder, he was limited in how physical he could play from a real toughness standpoint — not that we were in a desperate need to have a real physical D-man back there.”
The pain endured by Redmond during multiple attempts to come back from the injury before he finally had to shut things down in 2017-18 did not go unnoticed by the organization.
“It is never an easy thing to fight back from that kind of injury,” Beer said.
“I give a lot of credit to him for coming up for the start of training camp this year, as well and really getting himself integrated with the new guys on the team and being a part of things even though he couldn’t participate in any of the workouts.
“He was there helping out and really making himself as much a part of the squad as possible. Then, he went home and then came back, got himself into game shape.
“He was a good player for us for just under two years here and we wish him the best of luck. He is going to have a great opportunity to finish his Junior ‘A’ career with Perth. He was a really good person and a really good player for us.”
Playing for the Blue Wings will also allow Redmond to finish up much close to his Ottawa home.
Also on Thursday, the Rock shipped 1999-birth-year forward Eamon Bollinger (28, 6-15-21, 47) to the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders in exchange for a player development fee.
The Pittsburgh native was the lone American player on the Rock roster, although San Carlos, Calif., native Brendan Burns (4, 0-0-0, 0) was briefly with the squad earlier in the season.
“Eamon was a good second- and third-line player for us,” Beer said.
“He did a lot of things the right way. He may not have been a high-end goal scorer, but he was a workhorse player and did a really good job while he was here.
“We will have somebody else step up into that role now and we wish him nothing but the best. Georgetown is getting a really good player. I know their coach, Scott McCrory, and he is going to love throwing Bolly over the boards.”
With the departure of Redmond and Bollinger and the addition of Arnburg, the Rock have 22 players (two goalies, seven defencemen and 13 forwards) on their active roster and one unused card they can hold onto until Feb. 10 — although it can only be used on a free agent released by another organization.
While that unused card does not provide any immediate benefit for the Rock, Beer likes the flexibility it offers.
“Knock on wood, you hope nothing catastrophic happens with a player being out for a long period of time,” he said.
“I think we have done a really good job with our APs (affiliate players), as well, Obviously, we haven’t had to use them as much as we did last year, but we do feel confident if something happens some of our APs could step in and fill that role.
“If somebody does come available and gets shaken loose as a free agent, we will assess and see if they make sense for us. Having that flexibility of an open card does help.”
In the meantime, the Rock will look to have a committee of players pick up the secondary scoring Bollinger provided the squad.
“Up and down the lineup, we have younger players who have come in and got themselves going,” Beer said.
“Josh Dickson (34, 10-11-21, 26) has really established himself in a Top 6 role and he has really become a threat offensively. He plays 200 feet, too, which I think is a staple for guys in this program.
“You look at a guy like Riley Brousseau (35, 8-13-21, 17), as well. He is 17 years old and really coming on, playing really good hockey.
“(Benjamin) Jossinet (4, 1-1-2, 2) comes in here and he has flashed some good skill, so there are guys internally here who are going to be able to step up to fill that offensive role.
“Then, you look at the defensive side with guys like Linden Spencer (34, 4-3-7, 50) and A.J. Campbell (35, 5-7-12, 23). They do the work nobody wants to do. They do the chip-and-chase work. They do the defensive-zone starts. They block shots.
“That’s not an easy job, which maybe some young guys don’t understand. Everyone thinks you get to Junior ‘A’ and you want to get your opportunities, you want to score goals, that’s how you stay in the lineup. It’s not. If you can play good defence, you are going to be in the lineup every day.
“Those two guys don’t get scratched because they do the right things on the defensive side of the puck every single day.
“This program will sacrifice risky offence for lights-out defence every single day of the week.”
Beer likes the way his squad is shaping up heading into the home stretch of the 2018-19 campaign.
“(General manager) Kevin (Peever) and Paqs (assistant general manager Eric Paquette) have done a nice job getting this roster together,” he said.
“They are the guys behind the scene and they don’t get a lot of credit, but they deserve a lot.”
When the Rock (22-14-2-0) entered the NOJHL’s Christmas break, they were tied for first place in the East Division standings.
With the break extended an additional 11 days due to the cancellation of a pair of games last weekend following an accident involving the French River Rapids team bus, they are now in third place — five points behind the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (25-10-1-0) and the Cochrane Crunch (24-14-0-3).
“We are almost ahead of schedule,” Beer said.
“We have a very young squad. A lot of the teams in our league are 19- and 20-year-old based, whereas we have a few 19 year olds, with 18, 17 and 16 year olds.
“So, given how well we have been playing and got things going, we are ahead of schedule. We aren’t waiting for next year, we are ready to make the plunge now.”
Following the trade of Redmond, the Rock only have a pair of 1998-birth-year players — Hutchinson and forward Matt Capisciolto (35, 11-18-31, 20) — left on their roster.
The Rock will finally return to action when they host the Gold Miners at the McIntrye Arena on Tuesday. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
NOJHL NOTES — Gold Miners reacquired forward Matthew Brassard from the Mississauga Chargers, of the OJHL, and traded defenceman Jordan Michaud to the Grand Falls Rapids, of the MHL … The Crunch traded forward Seiji Martone to the Princeville Titans, of the QJHL, in exchange for forward Nicholas Blachman … The Powassan Voodoos acquired Martone from the Titans … The Rapids traded forward Andrew Gavros to the Stouffville Spirit, of the OJHL, and traded defenceman Ryan Gallant to Muskies … The Elliot Lake Wildcats traded goalie Justin Vertesi to the Lloydminster Bobcats, of the AJHL … The Rayside Balfour Canadians traded defenceman Jordan Spadafore to the Grand Falls Rapids, of the MHL.