By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock thumped the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 8-2 at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
Former Canadian Ryan Theriault, Devin Panzeca and Mike Norris each scored twice to pace the attack for the Rock who enjoyed a built up a 3-1 first period lead and then exploded for five third-period goals to turn the contest into a route.
“We got off to a really good start in the first period,” said Rock assistant coach Eric Paquette.
“The boys came out flying and we established out game plan in the first period.
“We didn’t have quite as strong an effort in the second period, but we picked things back up in the third period.
“When we play together as a team and we stick to our game plan, like we did in the first and third periods, we are successful.”
The Rock got solid offensive contributions from all three of their top lines Friday night, but the assistant coach was especially pleased with the play of the second and third units.
“Our second and our third lines got most of the goals,” Paquette said.
“They had really solid efforts, playing our system and playing it properly. Anytime you can come out with a big win like this, with your second and your third line really chipping in like that, it’s always nice.
“All six members of our second and third lines really had good nights and we had a couple of our D-men, including Andrew Castagna, who played really well, but overall it was a really solid team effort.
“When you only give up two goals in a game it is because everybody is sticking to the game plan and keeping things simple.”
The home side jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Norris, his sixth on the season, and Jordan Rendle, his fifth on the season, but Rudy Giusti got the Canadians on the board when he scored a goal two seconds after Zachary Kercz’s tripping penalty had expired.
Theriault’s first goal of the night and third of the season restored the Rock’s two goal advantage before the end of the first period, however.
Neither team could find the back of the net during the second period of play.
Panzeca struck for his sixth goal of the season just 1:47 into the third period to extend the Rock lead to 4-1.
The Canadians got that one back just under six minutes later, however, as Danny LePage netted a power-play goal to pull Rayside-Balfour to within two goals of the Rock.
The rest of the period was all Rock, however.
Panzeca’s second goal of the game and seventh on the season restored the Timmins lead to three goals less than two minutes later.
Then Norris netted his second goal of the game and seventh on the season, an unassisted marker, to make it a 6-2 hockey game.
That spelled the end of the night for Canadians starting goalie Jessie Morin, as Rayside-Balfour coach Jason Young gave him the hook and brought in Kevin Labelle to finish up the game.
The move didn’t have much impact, however, as Theriault greeted Labelle with his second goal of the night and fourth on the season less than a minute later to increase the Timmins lead to 7-2.
Bain Cunningham was credited with a goal with under two-and-a-half minutes remaining on the clock, but it appeared that defenceman Tyler Somers shot from the top of the circle entered the wide-open Canadians net without being touched, despite a valiant, but late diving attempt by Labelle to get in front of the shot.
Somers, playing in his first game with the Rock after off-season surgery, was not about to worry over whether he got credit for the goal or not.
“They might have to check the highlights,” he said.
“Maybe they will leave it with Bain, I don’t know. As long as the team wins, that’s all that matters.”
Somers flew back home to Rockland, Ont., on Monday morning, got clearance to pay on Tuesday and flew back to Timmins Wednesday morning.
“It felt good,” he said.
“I had been really anxious to get back on the ice. Tonight was a great night. (Rock coach and general manager) Paul (Gagne) gave me the start and I got a couple of shifts in and just tried to do my best out there.
“I was a bit shaky at the start of the game, because it was a different speed than practice, but after my first shift I felt pretty good and I was confident.”
Somers was paired with Nick Hautanen and also with Jared Hester on the Rock blue-line at various points of the game.
Rock goalie Logan Ferrington turned aside 46 of the 48 shots the Canadians fired his way to earn the victory and he even earned an assist on Panzeca’s second goal.
Paquette said: “Logan is always good back there. He plays his game and it’s a nice calm game. He was really big in the second period, when it seemed like we spent 18 of the 20 minutes in our own zone. He really held the fort down for us.”
Morin stopped 39 of the 45 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss for the Canadians. Labelle made 10 saves in relief of the starter.
Canadians assistant coach Dan Charbonneau was not pleased with his team’s effort as they lost their fourth-straight game after opening the NOJHL campaign with a four-game winning streak.
“Right now, we are not focusing on the small things,” he said.
“We are doing a lot of things selfishly. We are not playing as a team right now. Unfortunately that shows in the overall score in our past three games.”
What do the Canadians need to do to get back in the win column?
“Right now, we have to play as a team,” Charbonneau said.
“That is what we are missing right now. We have got a lot of selfish bodies. We are not playing within our system. When you add all those things together it makes it hard to win games.
“It has been tough. There is no denying that, but we are back at it tomorrow (Saturday), so we can’t dwell on this loss. We have a big game against Cochrane and hopefully we will see a better effort tomorrow.”
The Canadians were missing a number of key players for Friday night’s contest, including captain Ryan Erickson (suspension), forward Mackenzie MacMillan (injury) and defenceman Ryan Mooney (injury), but Charbonneau was not about to use that as an excuse for the lack of effort Friday night.
“There is no denying that we are banged up, but that is still no reason to give excuses,” he said.
“It is a time where we need other guys to step up and play key roles. Right now, we are not getting that done.”
Are there any positives the Canadians can take from Friday night’s loss to build upon?
“It is really hard to find any right now,” Charbonneau said.
“We just have to get some team cohesiveness, get everybody to show up, punch in their time cards and go to work. That’s what we need. We need everybody to be on the same page tomorrow.”
NOJHL NOTES — Tyler Planetta, of the Rock, and Yanic Hebert, of the Canadians, were ejected from the game after they received major penalties for fighting and game misconducts … The Rock went 2-5 on the power-play, while the Canadians were 1-3 with the man advantage … The three stars of the game were Panzeca, Rendle and Norris … Forward Cole Gilligan (upper-body injury) and defenceman Michael Rancourt did not dress for the Rock … The Rock will travel to Iroquois Falls for a game with the Eskimos on Sunday, at 6 p.m., while the Canadians return home to host the Cochrane Crunch at the Chelmsford Arena Saturday, at 7 p.m.