The Timmins Rock dumped the Rapids 6-2 at the Noelville Arena Sunday afternoon to move into sole possession of top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings.
Heading into Sunday afternoon’s action, the Rock (30-6-1-1) had been tied with the Voodoos (30-7-0-0) atop both the East Division and NOJHL overall standings — thanks in large part to a 4-1 win in Powassan Saturday night.
While the Voodoos to have a game in hand on the Rock, Sunday’s victory allowed Timmins to pull two points ahead of Powassan.
“We talked about it and this was an important win for us,” said Rock assistant coach James Daschuk, who was running the bench Sunday afternoon along with fellow assistant Marc Bisson while coach Corey Beer was in Hamilton preparing to guide Team East at the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game on Tuesday.
“You don’t want to win a big one like we did Saturday night and then come home with a split.
“So, it was important for us to get the two points this afternoon and cap off a solid weekend.”
A pair of goals, less than a minute apart midway through the opening period, off the stick of Tyler Schwindt allowed the Rock to jump out to a 2-0 lead at the Noelville Arena.
The first of those tallies, which leave the New Hamburg resident with 12 on the season, was a shorthanded marker.
“He was flying and had a good game for us today,” Daschuk said.
“He had a few chances on Saturday and he had a few today, as well, so I was happy to see him get a couple of goals.
“His speed is just phenomenal.”
The Rapids were able to battle back and tie things up at 2-2 before the end of the frame, however.
Blue-liner Connor Loft — acquired by the Rock and traded by them on the same day earlier this season — accounted for the first of those tallies when he struck for a power-play marker, his third goal of the season.
Will Frustaglio followed with his 10th goal of the season with just 24 seconds remaining in the period.
“We didn’t show any panic and we knew we were right there,” Daschuk said.
“We just made a couple of mistakes. One of their goals was a power-play marker.
“It wasn’t our greatest period, but we knew we had a lot left in the tank.”
It took just 58 seconds after the puck had dropped to signal the resumption of play in the middle frame for the Rock to retake the lead, however, with Stewart Parnell scoring an unassisted marker, his 15th goal of the season.
It was Parnell’s fifth game-winning goal of the season and second in as many games.
“Once we got the one goal, we knew we were going to be okay,” Daschuk said.
The Rock increased their advantage to 4-2 in the final minutes of the frame when Riley Brousseau netted a power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season.
A pair of goals off the stick of Phil Caron less than four minutes apart early in the third period closed out the scoring and made the final 6-2 in favour of the visitors.
Caron, a converted blue-liner, now has 11 goals on the season.
The Rock assistant coach was impressed with the effort put forth by a number of his players, including Parnell.
“He is a beast right now,” Daschuk said.
“He is a 20-year-old man playing against boys. He is just relentless on the puck. He has got the size, the long arms and the big stick and he is just as good defensively as he is in the offensive zone.
“Phil has been playing well, too, and he has been playing with Stewart. He is always buzzing around. He has great skill and great speed. He makes things happen with the puck.
“Brousseau was good again this afternoon, as well, and Zach Smith had a couple of good chances.
“He is just snake bit a little bit and I thought (Cameron) Kosurko had a good game, too, especially for a 16 year old.
“On the back end, (Zachary) Fortin was good and (Evan) Beaudry has been playing pretty solid for us. He and (Eric) Moreau on the PK (penalty kill) have been great.
“They are guys who don’t get recognition with the points and stuff, but the guys know how valuable they are out there for our team.”
Once again, the Rock were without the services of their captain, Derek Seguin, who remains out of the lineup while battling the flu.
“We are hoping to have him back soon, that’s for sure,” Daschuk said.
“The fact we were able to win without him this weekend shows how deep we are, so kudos to the rest of the guys in our room. When your captain is gone, it is easy to find excuses, but our guys came through and that’s a good feeling for us.”
Rock goalie Vance Meyer turned aside 30 of the 32 shots he faced in the contest to earn his 12th win of the season.
Sebastian Woods, who started in net for the Rapids and blocked 27 of the 33 shots directed his way, was tagged with the loss. Ben Montgomery played the final 12:48 in the French River net and stopped all eight shots he faced.
ROCK 4 VOODOOS 1
It was the Voodoos who actually got on the scoreboard first at the Sportsplex Saturday night, courtesy of Ryan Mills’ 11th goal of the season.
That was the only tally in the frame, allowing the Voodoos to skate off into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The Rock bounced back in the middle frame, however, first deadlocking the contest and then seizing a one-goal lead.
Tyler Gilberds’ 12th goal of the season at the 16:27 mark tied things up and blue-liner Josh Anderson’s power-play marker, his ninth goal of the season, 39 seconds later gave the Rock a lead they would not surrender.
Josh Dickson provided a little insurance late in the third period when he netted his 18th goal of the season.
The, with just 53 seconds remaining on the clock, Brousseau provided a little icing on the cake when he struck for his fifth goal of the season.
Reached in Hamilton Sunday evening, Beer — who was behind the bench for Saturday night’s victory — was proud of what his team was able to accomplish on the weekend.
“We played a terrific game Saturday against Powassan,” he said.
“You couldn’t ask for a better game. Overall, we did everything right all night and came out with a big win.”
The coach feels Saturday night’s victory wasn’t necessarily about figuring out how to stop the Voodoos.
“I think it was all about how the Timmins Rock play,” Beer said.
“Except for about three minutes in the second period, we were able to roll four lines and six defencemen, minus special teams.
“It was incredible, the pace we played at all night long, with contributions from different lines, the small details of the game, were terrific.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding. We had a power-play goal and a couple of other productive power plays that didn’t produce results on the scoreboard, but were momentum builders.
“Our tracking through the neutral zone and our transition game was so important. I loved our game. I said to the guys it was about as professional a game as you can have at the Junior ‘A’ level. It was great.”
Rock goalie Tyler Masternak turned aside 26 of the 27 shots he faced to earn his 17th win of the season.
Meanwhile, Christian Cicigoi — whom the Voodoos had just reacquired from the OHL’s North Bay Battalion — stopped 34 of the 37 shots the Rock directed his way and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of Sunday afternoon’s game were Caron, Rapids forward Kyle Avery and Schwindt, while Anderson, Masternak and Cicigoi were honoured Saturday night … The Rock went 1-6 on the power play on Sunday, while the Rapids were 1-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Noelville Arena was 290 … Sunday’s other action saw Express blank the Hearst Lumberjacks 3-0 in Espanola, the Cochrane Crunch dump the Gold Miners 5-1 in Kirkland Lake and the Blind River Beavers get past the Wildcats 5-1 in Elliot Lake … The Rock will return to action when they travel to Cochrane for a game against the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre Thursday, at 7 p.m. The next home game will see the Rock entertain the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena on Saturday, at 7 p.m.
Game Photos courtesy of Dal Photography