Timmins NOJHL team in action Thursday in Hearst before returning home for Sunday afternoon match against Blind River.
The Timmins Rock are in the midst of another road trip, and came away with two more impressive wins before the finale in Hearst.
TIMMINS ROCK 3, RAYSIDE-BALFOUR CANADIANS 2 (Thursday)
In their only scheduled visit to the Chelmsford Arena this season, the Rock got off to a very solid start, outshooting the Canadians 19-9 in the opening period.
Derek Seguin sniped his 11th goal of the season on the powerplay 10 minutes in to open the scoring.
Tyler Schwindt put the Rock up by two, when he fired a quick shot through the pads of new Canadians goalie Cameron Lamour at the 16:08 mark.
Lamour, who has plenty of major junior experience with both the Saginaw Spirit and most recently the Sarnia Sting, was signed last week by Rayside-Balfour to steady their position in the crease. They recently lost their top netminder in David Bowen, son of famed Toronto Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen, who was assigned to the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs.
Just 19 seconds after Schwindt’s tally, Josh Dickson scored a beautiful goal by banking the puck off the boards to himself and powering around two Canadians defenders before firing a wrist shot into the top shelf to put Timmins up 3-0.
Just when it looked like a blowout could occur, the Canadians answered back quickly. Gavin Brown scored his seventh of the season at 17:35 before Giordano Biondi, who also plays for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, buried one with just 11 seconds remaining in the period to make it a 3-2 game.
The remaining two periods were scoreless. The game ended with some fisticuffs, but nothing serious enough for supplemental discipline occurred.
Final shots were 44-27 in favour of Timmins, Tyler Masternak picked up his 8th win of the season, and the Rock came away with their fourth win in a row, and swept the regular season series with the Canadians 3-0. The teams won’t meet again this season, unless they were to face each other in the NOJHL Finals.
“Up until that point, they were 14-2-1 against the rest of the league, and now 0-5 against us and Powassan, so that’s a really good hockey team over there,” said Rock head coach Corey Beer.
He was very pleased with the team’s effort and composure, and felt it was a great test for his players to be protecting a one-goal lead right until the final buzzer – something they haven’t had to do very often.
“We weren’t so much ‘under siege’ at the end, but they were certainly getting some chances. I think that’s a great point for our guys, we can sit there, look at the video from it, and learn ‘here’s how you play proper defence late in games, here’s how you hold teams off,” said Beer.
“It was a huge step for us in the right direction.”
TIMMINS ROCK 4, KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS 0 (Saturday)
It was a special evening in Kirkland Lake on Saturday night when the Rock visited. The Gold Miners were wearing special Legion 87 Remembrance Day uniforms and held a ceremony before puck drop.
The Gold Miners came in on an 11-game losing streak, and were playing with a short bench after a flurry of recent injuries and transactions. The Rock outshot the Miners 24-4 in the first period, and took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room after Tyler Gilberds deflected in a Stewart Parnell shot for his 9th of the season at the 18:56 mark.
Despite outshooting the Gold Miners 22-3 in the second period, it was still a 1-0 game heading into the final frame.
Defenceman Phil Caron scored his first Rock goal a minute and a half into the third when he snapped a hard wrister past Kyle McNair off a faceoff.
Seguin scored a pretty shorthanded goal just a minute later, deking through three Gold Miners before firing a laser like wrister just under the crossbar to put Timmins up by three.
Zach Smith finished the scoring with his fourth of the season at the 12:24 mark. Final shots were a staggering 62-15 in favour of Timmins.
“It goes with how we’re playing. We’re aggressive, we’re on the puck fast, we move it, our defencemen are always up in the rush,” said Beer.
“We didn’t want to be the team that ended their losing streak, we wanted to keep that going.”
Vance Meyer, 17, picked up his NOJHL-leading third shutout of the season. He also leads the league in both save percentage and goals against average.
“Full credit to him. He’s been sensational this year,” said Beer.
“Early on, we really clamped down on him, and told him how hard Junior ‘A’ was going to be, and how hard he had to work. He’s reaping the rewards of it now, because his work ethic is up, he practises hard, and there’s a huge correlation of how he’s playing now.”
It was also the first game back for Rock veteran Linden Spencer, who was on a personal leave of absence after the passing of his mother. It was an emotional boost for the entire organization.
“He brings so much emotion out there. He’s one of our great ‘room’ guys. He does a lot of things that keep the guys light. He plays with a lot of energy too. It was great to see him back in there. He plays the right way. This is his third year with me now, and he does all the things that a coach wants all his players to do – the compete level, the forecheck, the willingness to battle, that’s all stuff that maybe doesn’t show up on the scoresheet, but he certainly does all of that for us,” said Beer.
The Rock are in action again on Thursday evening in Hearst for another battle with the rival Lumberjacks, and are back at home on Sunday afternoon against Blind River.
The Rock are now ranked No. 8 in the country from the CJHL Top 20 Rankings, which are released every Monday.