KIRKLAND LAKE – A rare road victory Thursday night at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex helped the Timmins Rock move into fourth place in the NOJHL East Division standings.
C.J. Bradburn’s seventh goal of the season with 7:58 remaining in regulation lifted the Rock to a 3-2 win over the Gold Miners.
It was just the second win away from the friendly confines of the McIntyre Arena all season for the Rock who last tasted victory on the road Nov. 10 in Cochrane.
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
The Rock got on the scoreboard first Thursday night when captain Wayne Mathieu netted a power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season, midway through the first period.
Kirkland Lake answered with a pair of power-play markers of their own before the end of the frame, however, and the home side took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play.
Gregory Trudeau-Paquet’s 23rd goal of the season got the Gold Miners back on even terms and then Connor Evans’ first goal of the campaign put the home side in front.
It didn’t take long for the Rock to even things back up once play resumed in the second period.
Defenceman Josh Anderson scored his first goal of the season at the 1:58 mark of the middle frame to knot things up at 2-2.
After taking five of the six minor penalties called in the opening 20 minutes, the Rock managed to avoid the sin bin during the second period while the Gold Miners were forced to kill off three minor penalties.
As a result, the Rock were able to outshoot the Gold Miners 15-9, after Kirkland Lake held an 11-6 advantage in the opening frame.
Rock coach Corey Beer was a lot happier with his team’s effort in Kirkland Lake Thursday night than he was following Tuesday night’s home-ice loss to the Cochrane Crunch.
“The message between the first and second periods about staying out of the penalty box was well received,” he said.
“We were able to roll four lines and six D, whereas in the first period we were forced to shorten our bench and mainly use our penalty killers. That took away from the flow of the game.
“So, the second period was a big momentum builder for us.”
Bradburn’s game-winning marker was the lone goal of the third period, as the Rock again outshot the Gold Miners, 7-6.
“I thought our forecheck was really good for us tonight,” Beer said.
“We didn’t sit back and we didn’t give them much time and space. We wanted to stay on top of them as much as possible and I thought we did a pretty good job.”
A number of Rock players impressed their coach Thursday night.
“We used Jace Soroko on the back end tonight and he did great,” Beer said.
“Jordan Picard had a good game up front, as did C.J. Bradburn, and obviously (goalie) Eric Jackson was stellar after the first period, when we didn’t give him much help.”
Defenceman Frederic Leclair-Pouw, of the GNML’s Timmins Majors, appeared in his fifth game with the Rock as an affiliate player Thursday night and he also impressed Beer.
“He was a horse for us on the penalty kill tonight,” he said.
“That was a welcome bonus for us.”
You never want to give a team as offensively gifted as the Gold Miners as many power plays as they had Thursday night, but the Rock can take some comfort from the fact they were able to kill of 75% of them.
“That three-on-five early in the game hurt us, but later on we made some adjustments,” Beer said.
“Our guys did a lot better job of getting pucks down the ice and getting into the shooting lanes after the first period.”
While the Rock, with a record of 2-11-1-1, have clearly struggled on the road this season, they have enjoyed a modest amount of success at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex where they are now 1-1-0-1 in three games.
“For whatever reason, we seem to come into this rink and play some pretty good hockey,” Beer said.
“We are very happy to be able to come in here tonight and come out with the two points.”
With the Thursday night’s victory, the Rock (12-19-1-2) now hold a one-point advantage on the Lumberjacks (12-14-2-0) — although Hearst still has five games in hand on Timmins.
Despite the loss, the Gold Miners (16-13-4-2), who hold down third spot in the East Division standings, are 11 points ahead of the Rock. Timmins does, however, have one game in hand on their rivals.
Jackson turned aside 24 of the 26 shots he faced to earn his ninth victory of the season for the Rock.
Gold Miners goalie Cade McEwen blocked 25 of the 28 shots the Rock fired his way and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Bradburn, Anderson and Evans … The Rock did not dress defencemen Jared Hester (lower-body injury), James Redmond (upper-body injury), Shawn Sloan (upper-body injury) and Eric Paquette (lower-body injury), as well as forward Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury) … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 2-8 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Joe Mavrianc Community Complex was 187 … Thursday night’s only other contest saw the Canadians dump the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-1 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Saturday night when they host the Espanola Express at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m