By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Captain Jordan Rendle scored three goals — including the game-winner — and added an assist to lead the Timmins Rock to a 9-1 romp over the Soo Eagles Saturday night at the McIntyre Arena.
The Rock totally dominated every aspect of the game against an Eagles squad that less than 24 hours earlier took the Crunch — the only NOJHL team that has yet to lose in regulation — to double overtime before dropping a 5-4 decision in Cochrane.
It took Rendle just 41 seconds to get the home side on the scoresheet, as he beat Eagles starting goalie Justyn Gillis from a scramble in front of the visitors’ net.
Rendle’s second of the night and ninth of the season with 1:44 remaining in the first period put the Rock in front 2-0 and held up to be the game-winner.
Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne was pleased with his team’s play in all three zones Saturday night.
“It was good to come out and get that first goal 41 seconds into the game,” he said.
“That really got things going. Rendle, as our leader, really took charge of the game. He got a couple of quick goals and then all of a sudden with had the (Alexandre) Brissons and the (Bain) Cunninghams and we even had (Spencer) Segui coming through on the power play.
“By scoring a couple of quick goals, we were really able to set the tempo tonight.
“We were a little worried for a while because we had some injuries and some players with misconducts and we were lacking players on the bench there for a while.”
Leading 2-0 heading into the second period, the Rock took command in the middle frame — adding five goals to built a seven-goal advantage heading into the final 20 minutes.
Wayne Mathieu got the puck rolling when he scored his eighth goal of the season 3:39 into the second period.
Rendle completed his hat-trick less than two minutes later when he potted his 10th goal of the season to put the Rock in front 4-0.
The Eagles lifted Gillis in favour of Jack Deines following that tally, but the move didn’t seem to make much difference.
Alexandre Brisson scored the first of his two goals on the night and fourth of the season less than a minute after the goaltending change.
Bain Cunningham netted his third goal of the season, a power-play marker, with 6:09 remaining in the frame and Brisson added his second of the night and fifth on the season with 2:08 left on the clock.
Cunningham (11, 2-12-14, 16) had struggled to find the back of the net prior to the past couple of games, but he would go on to add a second goal later in the contest.
“I was just trying to do the simple things out there tonight and playing my game,” he said.
“I was just letting the puck come to me. I wasn’t trying to do anything extra. I knew I was going to find the back of the net eventually.”
Despite Cunningham’s early struggles to put the puck in the net, the Rock have had little trouble scoring goals this season.
“It’s a team sport and goals and points don’t really matter too much, as long as we are getting the wins,” he said.
“I am happy with the way things have been going so far this season.”
Cunningham felt one of the keys to Saturday night’s victory was the Rock’s fast start.
“We are a team that wants to get off to a quick start in the first period and then keep the momentum going for the whole game,” he said.
“That’s what we did today and we played a good game and came out with the victory.”
Trailing 7-0, the Eagles opted to put Gillis back in the crease to start the third period of play.
Again, the goaltending chance had little impact on the play, as the Rock pumped a pair of power-play goals just over a minute apart past Gillis to expand their lead to 9-0.
Defenceman Spencer Segui scored his first goal of the season with the Rock enjoying a two-man advantage and then Cunningham added his second goal of the night and fourth of the season on the same power play.
The Eagles finally got on the board midway through the final period when William Casey scored to spoil the shutout bid of Rock goalie Caleb Barris.
Gagne agreed that Barris made a couple of key saves when the Rock were only up 1-0 and then 2-0 to allow the home side to continue to build momentum as the game progressed instead of having to try to fight to get it back.
“What I am really impressed with right now is how well he plays his angles,” he said.
“He is really square to the puck. Tonight, he let out two or three rebounds, but he took care of them himself, jumping on the loose pucks. You can really feel his confidence out there.”
In recent games, even with they have been winning, the Rock have had a tendency to take too many unnecessary penalties. That was not the case Saturday night.
“I was really proud of the way we played in the third period,” Gagne said.
“We were cool and calm. There was no retaliation and we didn’t take any stupid penalties. It could have been a lot worse, especially when the other team is frustrated because of the score.”
Eagles co-coach Jim Capy was at a loss to come up with anything good to say about his team following Saturday night’s blow-out loss.
“We got our lunch fed to us tonight and we got what we deserved,” he said.
“We didn’t come prepared to play and that’s kind of the way we have been all year. It just wasn’t a very good effort.
“A lack of consistency has probably been our biggest problem all year, but you don’t need a (coach’s) board to compete. You draw up your game plan, but you don’t need a board to compete and we just didn’t compete hard enough tonight to have any kind of success.
“Timmins out-competed us tonight and we took some bad penalties. They scored three power-play goals and then they got a couple at the tail end of power plays when we couldn’t get guys back into play.
“That has been a sore spot for us all year. Our discipline hasn’t been very good and our goaltending has not been where it needs to be. I thought their goalie was very good tonight and he made the saves he needed to make and our goalies didn’t — on top of a weak effort from the players in front of them.”
The Eagles will try to develop some consistency as they digest the lessons they learned from Saturday night’s loss.
“We took a step forward last (Friday) night, getting a tough point in Cochrane’s rink in a game we thought we should have won,” Capy said.
“Tonight, we took two steps back. We have just got to get back to the drawing board and follow our game plan. This league is about competing. A lot of the rinks we play in are small and if you are not going to compete and think you can just get away with playing a skill game, you are not going to have very much success in this league.”
Barris turned aside 32 of the 33 shots he faced to pick up the win for the Rock.
Gillies, who was tagged with the loss for the Eagles, stopped 23 of the 29 shots the Rock fired his way. Deines blocked five of the eight shots he faced during his 14:09 of action in the second period.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Rendle, Cunningham and Brisson … Forward Jacob Shankar (upper-body injury) did not dress for the Rock and is listed as day-to-day … Rock forward Nicholas Hway and Eagles blue-liner Carmen Scarfone were ejected from the game following their second-period fight … The Rock are off until Saturday night when they will host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena.