By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
ESPANOLA – Jacob Shankar scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, as the Timmins Rock doubled up the Express 4-2 Friday night at the Regional Recreation Complex.
It was the second-straight win for the Rock who pulled to within 12 points of the idle Cochrane Crunch in the battle for second place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings.
And the Rock (29-12-3-0), who will continue their three-game road trip against the Canadians in Rayside-Balfour Saturday, still have seven games in hand on the Crunch (34-12-4-1).
Following a scoreless first period, the Rock found the back of the net first Friday night.
Defenceman Spencer Segui, in his first game back in the lineup since Jan. 20, broke the ice at the 4:35 mark of the second period when he beat Express starting goalie Mitchell Jacobson for his fifth goal of the season.
Cory Sprague added his 20th goal of the season just 1:11 later to increase the Rock advantage to two goals and drive Jacobson from the Express net.
He was replaced between the pipes by Logan Sawka and the move seemed to settle the home side down, but Shankar scored his 17th goal of the season, a power-play marker, with just 1:44 remaining in the frame to send the Rock to the dressing room up 3-0.
Jacobson returned to the Express net following Jacobson’s first goal of the night.
Espanola responded with a goal early in the third period, as Aaron Roschinsky beat Rock goalie Albert Rogers for his 21st goal of the season, a power-play marker, at the 6:13 mark.
Shankar’s second goal of the night and 18th of the season just over three minutes later restored the Rock’s three goal advantage.
That goal resulted in yet another Express goaltender switch, with Sawka again coming on in relief.
MacKenzie Aiken added his 14th goal of the season for the Express, on the power play, with just 16 seconds remaining in the third period to close out the scoring and make the final 4-2.
Rogers stopped 39 of the 41 shots he faced to pick up the victory for the Rock.
Jacobson, who blocked 15 of the 18 shots the Rock fired his way was tagged with the loss for the Express. Sawka turned aside 18 of the 19 shots he faced in relief.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock did not dress captain Jordan Rendle (serving the first game of a two-game suspension he picked up during Tuesday’s 4-0 win over the Crunch for a hit to the head) … The three stars were Shankar, Roschinsky and Rock forward Bain Cunningham, who picked up a pair of assists in the contest … The Rock went 1-3 on the power play, while the Express were 2-10 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex was 305 … Friday night’s other action saw the Gold Miners thump the Iroquois Falls Eskis 7-1 in Kirkland Lake, the Beavers blast the French River Rapids 9-2 in Blind River and the Wildcats get past the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 3-1 in Elliot Lake … After make a stop in Rayside-Balfour to play the Canadians Saturday night, the Rock will conclude their three-game weekend road trip with a stop in Elliot Lake to play the Wildcats Sunday night.