KIRKLAND LAKE — Tyler Masternak stopped all 22 shots he faced Tuesday night at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex to post his NOJHL-record seventh shutout of the season in the Timmins Rock’s 6-0 whitewashing of the Gold Miners.
Masternak, who established the single-season standard during the 2018-19 campaign and tied it earlier this season, also extended his NOJHL career record to 15 shutouts.
And it was the second time in less than a week that the 19-year-old Oshawa native has blanked the Gold Miners on their home ice.
“No, I was just worried about getting the win,” Masternak said, when asked if he was thinking about adding to his shutout total as the game began to wind down.
“I just wanted to hold things down for the guys back there because they were doing a good job for me.
“It’s all about wins and whenever I get a shutout I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates.
“We have a good defensive corps and the forwards do a good job of coming back to help out.”
The Rock (36-8-1-1) — who now hold a one-point lead in the battle for top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings — have a big showdown coming up on home ice Thursday night against Masternak’s former team, the Powassan Voodoos (36-7-1-0).
“We were focused on taking care of business tonight, not worried about Thursday’s game,” he said.
“Now that tonight’s game is over, we can start focusing on that game.”
While the Rock currently hold down top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings and they are ranked No. 11 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top 20, Masternak knows his squad is still a ways away from accomplishing its goals.
“Our job is not done yet,” he said.
“We haven’t done anything yet. We don’t want to be regular-season champs and not have it add up to anything in the end.”
It took less than two-and-a-half minutes for the Rock to jump out to a 1-0 lead in Tuesday night’s contest, with Cameron Kosurko netting his 10th goal of the season.
It was the second-straight game-winning goal for Kosurko, who also supplied the difference maker in Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena.
Late in the first period of Tuesday night’s contest, blue-liner Aidan Milne added his third goal of the season. Gold Miners goalie Kyle McNair did not appear to see Milne’s shot from the point, as the puck sailed over his shoulder and entered the cage just under the crossbar.
Milne, a 6-5 and 185 pound Oshawa native, is not really known for his offensive prowess and he came close to doubling his output in just one game.
“Dazzer (assistant coach James Daschuk) just told me and my partner to go out there have some fun and play stress free game,” he said.
“My partner supported me really well and we were out there with the Seguin line in the first period and the puck popped out to me.
“I just tried to get it on the net and it happened to go in. We had a good screen on the play, so it was just one of those nights.”
Milne excelled at the defensive and physical sides of the game Tuesday night, as well.
“Getting that goal really raised my confidence,” he said.
“I was feeling a little more free out there on the ice, but of course I still wanted to play within the confines of our system.
“We wanted to keep things tight out there and maintain good gaps.
“Making sure Masty got the shutout was important for us. Nobody was talking about it. We didn’t want to jinx it, but it was definitely in the back of our minds.”
As one of the biggest D-men on the Rock blue-line, Milne appreciates a good hit — when it is one of his teammates delivering it.
“It was pretty good to see that hit Ando (Josh Anderson) made at our blue-line in the third period,” he said.
“He has a lot of skill, but he is a tough guy and we know he can play physical.
“That hit really didn’t surprise us one bit.”
The Rock carried their momentum into the middle frame and it took captain Derek Seguin just 42 seconds to drill a laser beam into the top corner of the Kirkland Lake net for his 21st goal of the season.
Timmins continued to dominate the period, outshooting their hosts 11-3, while adding two more goals to their total.
Stewart Parnell supplied the first of those two markers shortly past the midway mark of the frame when he scored his 21st goal of the season.
Then, with less than two minutes remaining on the clock, Josh Dickson chipped in with his team-leading 23rd goal of the season to send the Rock to the dressing room holding a 5-0 advantage.
And 1:01 into the third period, Gabinien Kioki closed out the scoring when he added his seventh goal of the season and first in a Rock uniform.
Despite being down six goals, the Gold Miners turned up the pressure and forced Masternak to make a number of solid saves in the dying minutes of the contest to preserve his shutout.
With coach Corey Beer back home in Timmins battling a nasty illness, Daschuk was manning the bench with fellow assistant coach Sean Lee and he was duly impressed with Masternak’s play between the pipes.
“There is not a guy who deserves those records more than him,” he said.
“I am super proud of that guy. He works so hard all the time and he is just so calm and patient in the net.
“With the 11 shutouts we have on the season now (counting Vance Meyer’s four whitewashes), you have to give a lot of credit to both of those guys.”
The increased workload his goalie experienced in the final half of the third period did not go unnoticed, either.
“I think we got a little bit reckless there in the third period,” Daschuk said.
“We kind of kept reminding those guys, but I guess it was just one of those things.
“We were sitting on a comfortable lead, so I guess we were playing a little bit more relaxed.
“That almost came back to bite us a few times, but Masty was back there.”
The Rock got goals from all the usual suspects (Seguin, Dickson and Parnell) Tuesday night, but Daschuk — who coaches the Rock blue-liners — was happy to see one of his charges get involved in the offensive production, as well.
“Aidan is the type of kid, a young guy coming in, whose confidence is getting better every game,” he said.
“He is getting more and more comfortable out there even when he is not putting up points, walking the line in the offensive zone.
“He is out there every time on the PK (penalty kill), as well, whereas he might not have been in that situation at the start of the season.”
Daschuk also appreciated the solid hit Anderson laid on a member of the Gold Miners at the Timmins blue-line.
“Ando caught him with his head down and laid a nice little hip check on him,” he said.
“It is not something we really expect from him, but when guys like him throw hits it keeps everybody on their toes.”
One of the youngest players in the lineup, Kosurko also made a positive impression on Daschuk.
“I thought he played a good game up front,” he said.
“It was nice to see Kioki kind of get the monkey off his back a little bit tonight.
“He is a kid who works so hard and is so passionate about the game. He just wants to win.”
The assistant coach was happy to see his players focused on the business at hand Tuesday night.
“These are what you might call trap games,” Daschuk said.
“The Gold Miners were coming in riding two big wins (over Powassan and Hearst) and honestly we did not even mention Powassan to our guys.
“That will be Wednesday’s task, but everybody knows what Thursday is all about. It is not something we really need to talk about.
“The players know. The fans know. It is going to be fun.”
In addition to picking up his seventh shutout of the season, Masternak earned his 22nd win of the season.
McNair, who turned aside 23 of the 29 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Masternak, Parnell and Gold Miners forward Nick Wagner … In addition to Beer, the Rock were missing forwards Karter Renouf (lower-body injury) and David Laroche (upper-body injury), as well as blue-liners Quinn Schniedmiller (upper-body injury) and Owen Shier (upper-body injury) … The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 0-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex was 601 … Tuesday’s only other contest saw the Crunch hold off the Hearst Lumberjacks 5-3 in Cochrane … The Rock will return to action on Thursday night when they host the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.