By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock doubled the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-2 at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday night
The victory allowed the home side to overtake the Gold Miners for third place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings, although the visitors have three games in hand.
Following a scoreless first period that saw the Gold Miners outshoot the Rock 19-6 Timmins struck for a pair of power-play goals early in the second period that took a lot of the fight out of the visitors.
Devin Panzeca got the ball rolling for the Rock when he beat Gold Miners goalie Marc Audet 31 seconds into the frame.
“They have a really strong team,” Panzeca said.
“They hit pretty hard and they play physical. They are definitely hard to play against. The first period we came out a little slow, then in the last five we really picked it up.
“We were able to carry that momentum into the second period and got a couple of quick goals and kept going from there and we finished pretty strong.”
Playing on a line with centre Jordan Rendle and left winger Tyler Romain, Panzeca’s unit continued the strong play they have displayed in recent games.
“I played with Tyler earlier during the preseason, so we kind of already had a feel for each other,” Panzeca said.
“Me and Jordan have been together all year and we are solid. He is a great playmaker. Half of my goals, I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for Jordan being out there.”
Rock assistant coach James Daschuk realizes just how important those two early second-period power-play goals were for his team.
“That was a big power-play goal,” he said.
“Our power play, I won’t say was struggling, has not been where we want it to be, but we got our first two goals on the PP tonight so that was a big lift for us. We knew before the game that if we kept our heads and got a couple of power plays that it would just be a matter of time.
“We just needed to stick to a disciplined game and that is what we did.”
Zachary Kercz increased the advantage to 2-0 when he scored his eighth goal of the season less than five minutes later.
Those two power-play goals gave the Rock a boost of confidence.
“The way we have been playing, our confidence has slowly been rising,” Daschuk said.
“Tonight is a good example that we can play with anybody. We have had a few good ones in a row there now.”
Indeed, Wednesday night’s victory was the third-straight for the Rock who have now won five of their past six games.
The Rock have also now taken two of their first three games with the Gold Miners, who are scheduled to host the Dudley Hewitt Cup tournament this season.
“They are a team that we are going to play 10 times this year, so we don’t want to get pushed around by them,” Daschuk said.
“Taking two out of three against them is good, but we still have seven games left against them.”
Brandon Wolfe finally got the Gold Miners on the scoreboard when he scored his fifth goal of the season less than two minutes later.
That’s the way the second period ended, but the Rock restored their two-goal advantage midway through the final frame when Kyle Levis netted his first goal of the season.
Tristan Salesse added his ninth goal of the season just over three minutes later to make it a 4-1 hockey game.
The Gold Miners got a power-play marker from defenceman Kyle Lamonte, his first goal of the season, with 20 seconds remaining on the clock, but it proved to be too little, too late.
Wednesday’s victory was the proverbial team effort, but there were a few players who caught Daschuk’s eye.
“I was proud of a lot of our guys tonight,” he said.
“The first 10 minutes of the game were slow, but when your leaders start buying into the game plan, that’s great.
“Our line of Rendle, Panzeca and Romain, who has jumped on there since (Bain) Cunningham got injured, has done a fantastic job the last couple of games.
“Wayne Mathieu got ejected for fighting, but the guys in the room just love him. He is all over the place and all the other teams seem to want to hit him because he is always in their face. He does a great job on the PK (penalty kill) and in our own zone.
“He doesn’t really get noticed on the scoresheet, but in the dressing room the guys notice what he does for the team.
“I liked (Nick) Hautanen’s game tonight, as well. He played so simple and didn’t make any mistakes. When you don’t notice a defenceman out there, that’s a good thing.”
Forward Cole Gilligan returned from an upper-body injury and picked up an assist in his first game back.
“Some guys are role players and they have to accept their role and Cole has got a great attitude about it all,” Daschuk said.
“When guys like Cole can chip in with points, you know you have a solid four-line team. I am happy for him.
“Also Kyle Levis got his first goal tonight and I was pretty happy about that. It was a big one too. We were up 2-1 and he scored to make it 3-1 and give us a two-goal cushion. That was big. That fourth line had a tremendous third period.”
Gold Miners coach Marc Lafleur was not happy with the way his team played afte the first period Wednesday night.
“I thought we played a great first period,” he said.
“I thought we played most of that period in their end and while we didn’t capitalize, we had a lot of momentum.
“What killed us is that we took a stupid penalty at the end of the first period and in hockey, once you start losing momentum it is tough to gain it back and one of the keys of the game was that stupid penalty we took.
“We didn’t win a one-on-one battle in two games against these guys. You have to win one-on-one battles. It doesn’t matter who you are playing against. If you are not there to compete and if you are not winning your one-on-one battles, it is tough to generate offence. Right now, that is the problem. We have guys who are getting beat off the wall in our corners. That is exactly what happened on one of the goals tonight.
“We were out worked and some of our guys don’t appreciate the opportunity they have here. The bottom line is they say one thing on the phone … that they really want to become better hockey players and they want to open up their opportunities, but it is one thing to say it and another to do it.
“You could tell right from the get go that our guys weren’t prepared for this game once we got to the rink.
“There is a lot of teaching we have to work on right now, as coaches, but we also expect the players to get mad at not coming out of the battles with the puck. Right now we don’t have enough guys who compete.”
The Gold Miners had made a number of roster moves since their previous visit to the McIntyre Arena on Sept. 12 and it is safe to say their could be more before they return for their next visit.
“There will be some changes,” Lafleur said.
Rock goalie Logan Ferrington turned aside 43 of the 45 shots he faced to record the win, while Audet made 33 saves for the Gold Miners and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 1-4 with the man advantage … The three stars of the game were Salesse, Kercz and Ferrington … Official attendance was 424 … The Rock are off until Friday, Oct. 16, when they will host the Espanola Express at the McIntyre Arena … The Gold Miners will travel to Powassan to take on the undefeated Voodoos Friday night and then on to French River to face off against the Rapids Saturday night.