VIDEO / GALLERY: Rock roll to 38th-straight victory against Gold Miners

Timmins Rock forward Brant Romaniuk attempts to stuff the puck past Kirkland Lake Gold Miners goalie Graydon Mole on a wrap-around play during the second period of Wednesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Romaniuk was unsuccessful on the play, but it would not matter as the Rock went on to defeat the Gold Miners 5-3. It was the 38th-straight win for the Rock against the Gold Miners, a steak that dates back five seasons. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS, ON – The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners still haven’t found a way to beat the Timmins Rock, but they came a lot closer Wednesday night at the McIntyre Arena than they did the previous Friday when they were shelled 13-2.

Still, while Wednesday’s 5-3 loss may have been a moral victory, the Rock managed to extend their winning streak against the Gold Miners to 38-straight games.

That is approaching territory reserved for the likes of the Harlem Globe Trotters against the Washington Generals.

Gold Miners coach Kyle Adams noted his squad changed tactics heading into Wednesday’s contest.

“We gave ourselves every chance at the end to maybe tie it up or even give ourselves a chance to win,” he said.

“We worked hard this week and changed a few things up, slowed the game down a little bit more. Played more of a, I don’t want to say a trap style game, but played with more structure.

“That’s what we have been work on. It’s a long process with our guys, but they are starting to get it now. You could see tonight when we played a structured game Timmins had some problems with it.

“Their style of hockey, they love to run and gun and we had to stop that by slowing the game down, keep them to the outside. They had more shots than we did, but if you look at scoring chances, we weren’t too far off them.

“They can shoot from the outside all day long. We had a good goalie (Graydon Mole) in net and he could see those shots from outside.”

The coach declined to single out any Gold Miners other than Mole for strong play in Wednesday’s contest.

“To me, it was a team effort, it really was,” Adams said.

“The goalie, the D and the forwards, they didn’t quit. I am proud of them. They stuck to what we have been preaching.”

The Rock got on the scoreboard first Wednesday night, with Nolan Ring scoring a power-play marker, his 11th goal of the season, at the 14:46 mark of the opening period.

“Clarkie (Harry Clark) made a hell of a play to keep the puck in and he found me, so I kept driving my feet, saw Wellsie (Liam Wells) had a good screen on the goalie, so I just shot it and got lucky,” he said.

That would be the lone tally in the frame, giving the Rock a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

They added to their advantage with a pair of goals in the second period.

Mason Svarich netted his team-leading 30th goal of the season 3:06 into the middle frame.

Clark, who had assisted on the first two Rock goals, followed with his 26th goal of the season nine minutes later to make it a 3-0 hockey game.

It appeared the Rock would carry that advantage into the second intermission, but the Gold Miners had other ideas.

Inde Abresch scored a power-play marker, his 11th goal of the season, with 1:21 remaining on the clock, and Riley Babich added his fifth tally of the campaign 27 seconds later.

The Rock regrouped during the intermission and restored their two-goal advantage 7:10 into the third period on Thomas Beard’s unassisted marker, his 13th tally of the season.

Then, seven minutes later, Henry McLellan scored his third goal of the season to put the Rock up 5-2.

Again, the Gold Miners refused to fold their tents, however, with Noah Woodard netting his 17th goal of the season 46 seconds later.

The Gold Miners pulled Mole in favour of an extra attacker late in the frame and it became a two-man advantage when Rock forward Brant Romaniuk was sent off for charging.

But the Rock held firm and the Gold Miners were unable to close the gap any further.

Ring wasn’t surprised the Gold Miners put up a much stronger effort than they had during their previous meeting.

“Even before the (NOJHL’s Christmas) break, they had given us some good games,” he said.

“We knew they were going to show up for this one. They can play fast and they are physical, too. We knew we had to stick to our systems and get the job done.”

Ring returned to the Rock lineup the last game before the break after missing more than a month of action but it looks like he is rounding into form, as he has four goals and six assists in his past seven games.

“Playing with Harry and Mason is great,” he said.

“They are easy to play with and they find me out there. They are two of the top (offensive) guys in the league, so it is nice to be on a line with them.”

Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was happy to see his squad collect two more points even if they weren’t as sharp or consistent as they had been in recent games.

“Obviously, I didn’t like that,” he said, commenting on the 27-second span in the second period that saw his team’s three-goal cushion evaporate.

“They (Gold Miners) did a good job. You have to give them credit. Structurally, they were better and they played a little harder tonight. There were definitely times we could have been sharper, as a group, not that we were bad by any means. I thought there were some moments (where we were good), but there were a couple of breakdowns.”

The coach agreed it was a good teaching moment although he feels his squad should know that by this point in the season.

“I don’t think guys go out there and consciously take shifts off but there are moments in games were things get hard and they decide not to work as hard as they need to,” Perry said.

“As a whole, I thought we were good.”

The coach was impressed with what he saw from a number of his Rock players Wednesday night.

“I thought Henry McLellan scored a beautiful goal,” Perry said.

“I really liked Jack Anderson’s game, not so much his last shift, but as a whole I liked his game. I thought (affiliate blue-liner) Zach Secord was fantastic back there. It is the best he has looked for us. We were down to four D and one of them was an AP, but he looked like a seasoned veteran.

“I thought (Rock goalie) Dryden Riley was good when he needed to be good. I thought our big boys were going, Clarkie, Ringer and Svarich, and obviously the (Lucas) Lowe line (with Beard and Hayden Rynard). Seems like every game they get it done for us.”

The Rock lost blue-liner Kyle Trottier to an upper-body injury during Wednesday night’s contest.

“We are hoping it’s day-to-day,” Perry said.

“We will know more Thursday, but it was just one of those games where it wasn’t worth it (for him to keep playing). There was no sense for him to continue playing in pain. Regular season is nice and we need the points, if we want to finish where we want to finish, but the playoffs is where it counts and we need him healthy for that.”

Riley stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced to earn his 15th victory of the season.

Mole, who turned aside 33 of the 38 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Ring, Clark and Abresch … The Rock went 1-2 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 1-3 with the man advantage … Timmins U18 Majors goalie Jaret Fenton-Chypyha dressed as the backup for Mole … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 789 … Wednesday’s only other contest saw the Thunderbirds top the Elliot Lake Vikings 5-1 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they will take on the Storm at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls, at 7 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel