Timmins Rock forward A.J. Campbell deflects a shot past Espanola Express goalie Adam Scott during the third period of Saturday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Campbell’s deflection sailed just wide of the post, but it didn’t matter as the Rock went on to blank the Express 7-0 for their second-straight win. The Rock will return to action on Sunday when they host the NOJHL-leading Powassan Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 3 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Tyler Gilberds scored a goal and added a pair of assists to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 7-0 rout of the Espanola Express Saturday night at the McIntyre Arena.
“It feels really good to get the monkey off my back,” said Gilberds, who was playing in his sixth game in a Rock uniform after being acquired from the Powassan Voodoos on Nov. 30.
“It feels good to help the team win. As a team, we played a really good game tonight.”
Gilberds got an opportunity to play with a variety of teammates Saturday night.
“I was all over the place tonight,” he said.
“I mainly played with my regular linemates (Wayne Mathieu and C.J. Bradburn), but I also played with (Tyler) Planetta a bit and (Jordan) Picard, a bunch of guys.”
Being a relative newcomer on the team, Gilberds feels moving from line to line is a good thing.
“When you get a chance to play with everybody, you gain chemistry with the whole team,” he said.
“It is a really good opportunity to get to know the guys.”
It was the second-straight win for the Rock who were able to once again leapfrog the Lumberjacks for fourth place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings — thanks in part to the Powassan Voodoos 4-3 win in Hearst Saturday night.
The Rock’s hold on that position might be described as a bit precarious, however, given that the Lumberjacks have five games in hand on their rivals.
Special teams played an important role in Saturdayֹ’s Rock victory, as the home side scored three power-play goals and added a shorthanded marker.
Jace Soroko, once again manning the blue-line because of a number of defensive injuries, scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal — his fifth marker on the season — late in the opening period.
The power-play marker would be the only tally during the opening 20 minutes of play.
Paul Spadafora scored his first goal in a Rock uniform to put the home side in front 2-0 at the 1:37 mark.
Then Riley Robitaille scored his second goal of the season, a shorthanded marker, 11 minutes later to increase the Rock lead to three goals heading into the second intermission.
The third period was all Rock, as the home side added more goals to make the final score 7-0.
Gilberds beat Express goalie Adam Scott for his seventh goal on the season and first in a Rock uniform at the 2:18 mark of the final frame, with the home side on the power play.
Just 30 seconds later, with the Rock still on the same nine-minute power play — after Express forward Tyler Bourassa was given a two-minute minor for roughing, a two-minute minor for instigating and a five-minute major for fighting — Derek Seguin scored his seventh goal of the season.
In an interview following the game, however, Gilberds suggested his second goal should actually be credited to Soroko.
Regardless of which Rock player actually put the puck in the net, the home side kept things rolling 12 minutes later when Seth Reuben tucked a rebound behind Scott for his fourth goal of the season.
Then, 16-year-old Rock defenceman Will Caston’s point shot eluded Scott and found the back of the Express net.
Caston’s first goal in a Rock uniform closed out the scoring and made the final 7-0.
Rock coach Corey Beer was pleased with his team’s effort at both ends of the rink Saturday night.
“I thought it was a good team performance for us tonight,” he said.
“We try to make playing good defensive hockey a priority. We like to limit the other team’s scoring chances and be good on the counter attack.
“Our guys did a great job tonight and really kept the momentum up for the entire game.”
The coach was happy to see Gilberds and Robitaille find the back of the net twice each, to key the offence.
“Tyler is going to be the type of guy who is going to help our power play,” Beer said.
“He is a very talented and skilled guy that way. He is still getting his game rounded out to become a 200-foot player, but he has obviously got some skills that will help us.
“Riley is just a monster on the forecheck. He does everything we ask of him and he plays all those hard minutes. I thought he was great tonight.”
When your team wins 7-0, there is no shortage of players deserving of a little extra praise.
“Seth Reuben has been steadily playing better and better hockey,” Beer said.
“He has really found a niche on our penalty kill. He has really been getting himself going. He has been playing a bit better in the offensive zone, too, playing good cycle hockey.
“I thought Jace Soroko was fantastic on the back end tonight. He is a guy who can play in every situation for us.
“The line of (Linden) Spencer, (Evan) Kentish-Stack and (Derek) Seguin was solid, as well.”
Rock goalie Tyler Masternak was not overly busy during Saturday night’s contest, but he made all the saves he had to make when called upon.
“He was certainly great for us when E.J. (Eric Jackson) went down with an injury, so for him to come in tonight and get the shutout, is great,” Beer said.
“He has become a good secondary option for us in net. He works extremely hard at his trade.”
The Rock tinkered with their power play prior to Saturday night’s contest, with Caston — who at 6-4 and 201 pounds is one of the biggest bodies on the Timmins roster — setting up shop in front of the Express crease.
“When your power play is not very good, you try a lot of options,” Beer said.
“We are hoping we have found a remedy for two units, with Will being in front of the net on one of them.
“We will try whatever we can to generate good offence.”
Beer was pleased to see Caston rewarded with his first NOJHL goal, even though it didn’t come on the power play.
“It has been a long time coming for him,” he said.
“He has been playing good hockey for us, big minutes and for a young guy like him to get his first Junior ‘A’ goal, it was great to see.”
Masternak stopped all 19 shots he faced on the night to record his first shutout on the season and earn his fourth win on the campaign.
Scott blocked 28 of the 35 shots the Rock fired his way and he was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Gilberds, Robitaille and Masternak … The Rock did not dress defencemen Jared Hester (lower-body injury), James Redmond (upper-body injury) and Eric Paquette (lower-body injury) and forward Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury) … The Rock went 3-8 on the power play, while the Express were 0-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 735 … Saturday’s other action saw the Voodoos edge the Lumberjacks 4-3 in Hearst, the Cochrane Crunch get past the Gold Miners 3-2 in double overtime in Kirkland Lake and the Thunderbirds dump the French River Rapids 7-4 in Sault Ste. Marie.