By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock held on to edge the Cochrane Crunch 6-5 and extend their winning streak to five games at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.
The two teams combined for four goals — with the Rock netting three of them — in a wild span of just one-minute-and-one second of the second period.
By the time the puck was fished out of the back of the Crunch net for the final time during that span the Rock had built up a 6-3 advantage.
Rock assistant coach James Daschuk was pleased with his squad’s effort against the East Division-leading Crunch.
“It was a great effort,” he said.
“The compete level was really high and I thought everybody worked hard. That is something we have been focusing on a lot. We didn’t take no periods off, no shifts off. That is important against a team like Cochrane. You take one shift off against them and they are going to put the puck in the back of the net.”
With Sunday’s win, the Rock (8-4-0-1) moved past the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners into third place in the NOJHL’s East Division — seven points behind the Crunch (12-3-0-0) with two games in hand.
The Crunch actually drew first blood Sunday afternoon, with Dustin Cordeiro scoring his NOJHL-leading 19th goal of the season on the power play 6:56 into the opening period.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Ryan Theriualt scored his seventh goal of the season on the power play to tie things up at 1-1 less than two minutes later.
Seamus Maguire’s 15thgoal of the season at the 14:07 mark of the period put the Crunch back in front 2-1, but again the Rock responded quickly with Jordan Rendle scoring his sixth goal of the season just eight seconds later.
The first period ended with the two sides deadlocked at 2-2.
“We showed a lot of character tonight,” Daschuk said.
“It would have been easy for us to get a little bit down on ourselves and get a little bit depressed when we fell behind, but we batted back both times they scored in the first period.
“That’s what winning teams do. They don’t get down on themselves.”
Zachary Kercz’s first goal of the game and ninth of the season put the Rock in front 3-2 36 seconds into the eventful second period.
That’s the way the score remained until Bain Cunningham beat Crunch goalie Brett Young with his fifth goal of the season to touch off the four-goal explosion and put the Rock up 4-2.
Jaren Knorr’s unassisted goal, his 10th of the season, cut the Rock lead to one goal 30 seconds later.
It took Theriault just 13 seconds to restore the two-goal Rock advantage, as he netted his eighth goal of the season to make the score 5-3.
Kercz followed with his second goal of the afternoon and 10th of the season 18 seconds later to increase the Timmins lead to 6-3.
“We were up by one goal and I bent down to talk to one of our players and then I looked up and we had a three-goal lead,” Daschuk said, referring to how quickly the puck was going in the net.
“I actually missed all three of our goals in that stretch.”
The assistant coach thought about continuing the pose for the remainder of the game, “but I was getting a soar back so I thought I better stand up straight … I thought about it though.”
Daschuk was impressed with the play of the Kercz, Salesse, Theriault line Sunday afternoon.
“Our top line played really well tonight,” he said.
“Kercz got the hard hat but I think both of his linemates deserved it, too. That line had been scoring but the chemistry just didn’t seem to be there the last couple of games. Tonight, they found their chemistry and it was great for them. I was really happy for them.”
And it wasn’t only the top line that impressed the assistant coach, either.
“(Logan) Ferrington in net was just amazing again tonight,” Daschuk said.
“He stood on his head tonight. I didn’t see the exact shots, but I assume they had more than 40 shots.
“(Tyler) Romain kind of got the guys going, too, with his little tussle in the second period. He showed a lot of courage and stood up to a big guy.”
Romain, listed at 5-5 and 150 pounds, went toe-to-toe with Crunch forward Tyler Minoletti, 5-8 and 174 pounds.
Anybody scoring the fight would likely have given Minoletti and slight edge, but not by much.
The two players each received five minutes for fighting and game misconducts.
Kercz, at 5-9 and 175 pounds, was glad to see his line get rewarded for all it’s had work Sunday afternoon.
“Our compete level was really high tonight,” he said.
“We were going really well tonight and we were winning all the little battles.
“We were playing against a team that is very offensive, but they give up just as many chances as they generate. We made sure we were able to capitalize on those chances.
“It was just a great team win.”
Salesse, one of the Rock’s assistant captains and also a member of the No. 1 unit, felt his squad was full credit for Sunday’s victory.
“We all just came out flying,” he said.
“We played out system, won all the little puck battles and the bounces just went our way.”
Salesse was especially proud of how the Rock responded each time they fell behind during the first period.
“Each time they took a one-goal lead it just put a spark up us and we came out even harder,” he said.
“Then after we rallied back those two times we figured it out and we started clicking a lot easier.”
Crunch coach and general manager Ryan Leonard felt his squad deserved a better fate Sunday afternoon.
“I am not disappointed at all,” he said.
“I was really happy with our effort. During the second period there were a couple of bad bounces off shin pads that went in the net. They went to the net hard, but they were flukey goals.
“We outshot them all three periods and in the third period they only got five shots on goal. We really came at them.”
Leonard was particularly impressed with the play of a number of Crunch skaters.
“I thought Maguire played an awesome game today and he stood out,” he said.
“Joey Mavrin had a better game. He finally stepped up. He had been struggling as of late, but he stepped up his game a bit.
“Defenceman Taylor Armbruster was solid back there on defence today.
“I was also happy with the overall effort from our new guy Evan Akkerman, who drove 20 hours and arrived in Cochrane yesterday. He made some real nice hits and set up Dustin (Cordeiro) twice up high but Dustin couldn’t finish them.
“We just need to get guys like Dustin and some of our other guys scoring against some of these better teams. They get a lot of goals but they have to start scoring against the teams that really count. We have to make sure our goal scorers are scoring when the games are big.”
After regrouping during the second intermission, the Crunch dominated the third period and outshot the Rock 18-8 as they pressed to get back in the game.
They were able to cut the Rock advantage to two goals on Jeremy McNeil’s fourth goal of the season at the 8:07 mark.
Knorr’s second goal of the afternoon and 11th on the season then cut the Crunch deficit to 6-5 with 18.52 seconds remaining on the clock and Young on the bench in favour of an extra attacker.
The Crunch ran out of time, however, and they could not get back on even terms before the final buzzer.
Logan Ferrington turned aside 42 of the 47 shots he faced to pick up the win for the Rock.
Young made 32 saves and was tagged with the loss for the Crunch.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Crunch were 1-8 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 448 … Sunday’s other NOJHL action saw the Elliot Lake Wildcats edge the Gold Miners 2-1 in Kirkland Lake … The Rock will host the Iroquois Falls Eskimos at the McIntyre Arena Wednesday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. … The Crunch will host the undefeated Powassan Voodoos at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night.