Rock bolster blue-line with Okanagan Hockey Ontario product

New Rock D-man Sam Jossinet prepares to engage Soo Eagles forward Benjamin Pouliot just inside the Timmins blue-line during Saturday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. With just one practice under his belt, the Bragg Creek, Alta., product made his debut during the game. Like many other current and former Rock players, Jossinet spent time with the Okanagan Hockey Ontario program. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

With the rash of injuries the Timmins Rock have had on the blue-line this season, it should come as no surprise the defending NOJHL champions opted to use their final card on a D-man prior to the Feb. 10 CJHL signing deadline.

Nor should it come as any surprise the newest member of the Timmins’ blue-line has a connection to the Okanagan Hockey Ontario ‘AAA’ U18 program coached by former Rock coach Corey Beer.

Sam Jossinet, a 5-10, 181-pound Bragg Creek, Alta., product, spent the 2022-23 campaign playing for Okanagan Hockey Ontario ‘AAA’ U18 (40, 1-10-11, 50) and Okanagan Hockey Ontario U18 Prep (14, 1-7-8, 6).

Current Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry explained the circumstances that allowed the Rock to acquire the new D-man.

“So, Jan. 10 was the (CJHL) trade deadline, your AP (affiliate player) deadline and you had until Feb. 10 to sign free agents,” he said.

“We had an open card and he hadn’t played hockey since September. We were in need, we called him. He was in Calgary, jumped on a flight at 8 p.m. and was here for practice Friday.

“We are super happy he was able to do it.”

So happy, in fact, Jossinet was in the lineup, wearing No. 88, when the Rock hosted the Soo Eagles Saturday night, with just that one practice under his belt.

“I thought he did a good job,” Perry said.

“He got in Friday, at 9:30 a.m., didn’t sleep much, took the red eye here, practiced Friday, was exhausted obviously, but stepped in there and played. That’s not an easy thing to do.

“As the week goes on and he gets more comfortable here, with a little bit more time on ice, gets a little sharper, I think he is going to be a very serviceable guy for us.”

Based upon his early impressions of Jossinet, the coach feels he is going to be “a solid shutdown guy.”

“He has a bit of a physical edge to him, knows how to box out in front of the net,” Perry said.

“He is not going to mess around with the puck, he is going to move it up to the forwards and keep his game as simple as possible.”

Jossinet explained playing for Beer with Okanagan Hockey Ontario made the transition into a Rock uniform Saturday night a little bit easier.

“We ran some pretty similar systems, but it has definitely taken me a bit to get back into things,” he said.

“It helps, too, that I played with (injured blue-liner) Sam Gallagher and (forward) Jaden Lyons and I met Hayden Rynard and Jack Kelly last year at a game, so I know them, as well.”

Having not seen much on-ice action to this point in 2023-24, Jossinet was likely running on adrenalin during Saturday night’s contest but he doesn’t envision it will take him too long to get into game shape.

“I think coach Perry will get me into shape pretty quickly,” he said.

Jossinet feels honoured to get a chance to play for the defending NOJHL champions, a team that went .500 at the 2023 Centennial Cup Junior ‘A’ national championship tournament.

“It means a lot to me, the fact they would take me in February, I am just looking forward to helping them win, if I can,” he said.

Jossinet’s hometown, Bragg Creek, is just 35 minutes outside of Calgary city limits, so he must have been a Flames fan growing up, right?

“No, I was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan growing up,” he said. “My parents are from Ontario.”

Given that fact, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise the blue-liner he patterned his fame after growing up wore the blue and white during the latter part of his NHL career.

“Jake Muzzin, when he was with the Maple Leafs, was a big influence on my game,” Jossinet said.

“He played a hard-nosed style of hockey. So I tried to model my game after his a little bit.”

Jossinet’s first impression of the NOJHL and his new Rock teammates was a positive one.

“This is a great league and the boys have been really welcoming, which I appreciate,” he said.

Jossinet and his new Rock teammates will take on the Eagles in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Friday night and the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Saturday night before returning home to host the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena on Monday, Family Day, at 2 p.m.