By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
FRENCH RIVER – Jordan Rendle’s second goal of the game, 62 seconds into overtime, lifted the Timmins Rock to a 4-3 victory over the Rapids Saturday night at the Noelville Arena.
Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne was pleased to see his team get back in the win column Saturday night after being blanked 5-0 by the Voodoos in Powassan Friday night.
“We just were not in sync Friday night,” he said.
“Those first two goals they scored were the results of two mistakes in front of our net, just like the last two goals we gave up tonight. We had two or three great chances after we gave up those two goals last night and we did not capitalize and next thing you know, they scored the third goal.
“We just couldn’t get anything going. They were on the top of their game and we weren’t.”
Things went much better for the Rock Saturday night in French River, although the Rapids proved quite difficult to negotiate.
“Both teams played really well tonight, to tell you the truth,” Gagne said.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the third period and it cost us a couple of goals, but in overtime we drove to the net, there was a little scramble and next thing you know, goal and game over.
“You really have to give a lot of credit to French River today. They were never out of it. They worked hard and they just continued to come at us.”
The Rock came out flying and opened up a 3-0 first period lead.
Alexandre Brisson beat Rapids goalie Albert Rogers for his sixth goal of the season at the 12:12 mark of the opening period.
It took Cory Sprague just seven seconds to expand the Rock lead to 2-0, as he stuffed his eighth goal of the season past Rogers.
Rendle’s first goal of the night and 11th on the season increased the visitors’ advantage to three goals with less than three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first period.
It appeared the Rock would carry that lead into the first intermission, but Matthew Verreault scored a power-play marker, his second goal of the season, with just 20 seconds remaining on the clock.
Having outshot the Rapids 26-15 during the first period, the Rock continued to press in the second period — holding a 17-7 advantage in shots on net — but neither team could find the back of the net.
Even though the Rock outshot the home side 18-14 in the third period, it was the Rapids who netted the only two goals in the frame.
William Michaud scored his first goal of the season midway through the period to cut the visitors’ lead to just one goal.
Then, Gregory Trudeau-Paquete scored his 11th of the campaign four minutes later to tie things up at 3-3 and forced overtime.
“There was no panic on our part after the fought back to tie things up,” Gagne said.
“I think maybe we got a little bit complacent. It was a good game and we had our chances, but there were a couple we did not capitalize on when we were up 3-1.
“Then, when they tied the game, we started to play with a little more urgency and the big boys came through.”
It took Rendle just 62 seconds to net the game-winner and his 12th goal of the season on a neat feed from defenceman Spencer Segui.
“Either Rendle or (Wayne) Mathieu could have scored the goal on the play,” Gagne said.
“There was a scramble and they were both fighting for the puck with an open net.”
Rock goalie Caleb Barris stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced to pick up the victory.
Rogers, who turned aside 61 of the 65 shots the Rock fired his way, was tagged with the loss.
With the win, the Rock (16, 12-4-0-0, 24) pulled to within three points of the Voodoos and the Cochrane Crunch who are tied atop the NOJHL East Division standings with 27 points. The Rock have a game in hand on both the Voodoos and Crunch.
Despite picking up a point in Saturday night’s overtime loss, the Rapids (17, 1-14-1-1, 4) fell one more point behind the fifth-place Iroquois Falls Eskis.
Friday night, the Voodoos completely shut down the Rock’s high-flying attack.
Goalie Nate McDonald made 34 saves to earn his third shutout of the season and hand the Voodoos their first victory over the Rock in three attempts this season.
Rhys Brown scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal just 1:52 into the first period when he beat Rock goalie Matthew Nixon for his third marker on the season.
The Voodoos increased their lead to 4-0 with just over four minutes remaining in the opening frame when Andy Baker scored his 16th goal of the season.
Three unanswered second-period goals allowed the Voodoos to take total control of the hockey game.
Gary Mantz beat Nixon for his 10th goal of the game, a power-play marker, at the 7:19 mark of the frame.
Defenceman Dayton Murray added another power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season, less than two minutes later.
Baker then potted his second goal of the game and NOJHL-leading 17th of the season with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second period.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the final 20 minutes of play even though the Rock fired 17 shots at McDonald in hopes of trying to get back into the hockey game.
The Voodoos goalie stood tall, however, and picked up his eight win of the season.
Nixon, making his third-straight start for the Rock, turned aside 31 of the 36 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Rogers, Trudeau-Paquete and Rendle … The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, while the Rapids were 1-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Noelville Arena was 257 … Saturday night’s other NOJHL action saw the Beavers hand the Crunch a 4-1 setback in Blind River, the Eskis edge the visiting Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-3 and the Canadians dump the Espanola Express 7-2 in Rayside-Balfour … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they travel to Iroquois Falls for a game against the Eskis. Their next home game will be on Saturday night when they host the Espanola Express at the McIntyre Arena. Game time for that contest is set for 7:30 p.m.