By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Defenceman Andrew Castagna’s third goal of the game 27 seconds into the first overtime period lifted the Timmins Rock to a 4-3 win over the Powassan Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night.
“This is the biggest game I have ever had in Junior ‘A’ hockey and even in minor hockey,” Castagna said.
“I think the last time I scored a hat-trick I was still in Novice and playing forward. This is the first one since I was 10 years old.
“As each one of my goals got scored tonight it was a bigger and bigger moment. It was a bigger celebration for every one of them.”
None was bigger, of course, than the one that followed his overtime game-winning effort, as all 639 fans in attendance came to their feet and Castagna’s teammates rushed to him.
Castagna’s goal was scored two seconds after Jake Staples had returned to the ice, but before the Voodoos forward had an opportunity to get into the play.
Staples received a slashing penalty for knocking the stick out of a Rock players hand to the right of his team’s net with just 1:35 to go in regulation.
The Rock were not able to capitalize before the end of the period, but Castagna made the Voodoos pay with the Rock enjoying a four-on-three advantage to start overtime.
“He took a pass from fellow blue-liner Jared Hester and wired a shot through a screen that Voodoos goalie Garrett Forrest did not see until the puck had bounced off the twine behind him and has exited the net.
“I heard our goalie (Logan Ferrington) banging his stick on the ice and I kind of saw the gate (to the penalty box) open out of the corner of my eye,” Castagna said.
“So I figure I should get the shot off quick before I ended up turning the puck over. Hess (Hester) gave me a nice pass from below the circle and I figure I had a lane, so I just shot it and things worked out in my favour.”
The Voodoos jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead, as Tyler Peters scored his 24th and 25th goals on the season, the first of which was a power-play marker.
Forrest and Ferrington shut the door in the second period, as neither team could find the back of the net.
The Rock finally got on the board 8:54 into the third period, as Castagna netted his sixth goal of the season to cut the Voodoos lead to 2-1.
Peters’ 26th goal of the season, and third of the game, with just 6:39 remaining in the third period and the Rock playing shorthanded as Castagna served a slashing penalty restored the Voodoos two-goal lead and the visitors seemed to be in control of the contest at that point.
The Rock appeared to cut the Voodoos’ advantage to one goal just 18 seconds later when Aaron Kerr deposited a shot behind Forrest, but the referees waved off the goal and sent Castagna to the penalty box for roughing.
The Rock were able to kill that penalty off and then Hester scored his fourth goal of the season with just under five minutes remaining in the game to cut the Voodoos’ lead to 3-2.
Then, less than two minutes later, Castagna scored his seventh goal of the season, a power-play marker, to tied things up at 3-3.
“I think I was just in the right place at the right time,” Castagna said.
“The forwards did their job and got the puck to the net. It bounced out and I was there to put it home.”
Rock assistant coach James Daschuk was more than pleased with the outcome of Saturday night’s contest.
“We were hoping we could end it early,” he said.
“Playing four-on-three, there was a lot of room on the ice. We had been getting lots of shots from the back end tonight and that is kind of what we wanted. Before the game started, we had talked a lot about having net-front presence. In the second period, we outshot them and all of our shots seemed to be from within five, six, seven, eight feet of the front of the net, all shots from in close and that was kind of our game plan.”
The assistant coach was much happier with Castagna’s goals than his trips to the penalty box Saturday night.
“His name was definitely painted on the scoresheet tonight,” Daschuk said.
“I didn’t like the one penalty. I didn’t think he did anything wrong, so it is hard to get upset with him for that one, but I am pretty sure the other one he definitely deserved, but it is easy to forget about a couple of penalties when a defenceman scores a hat-trick. I am proud of him. He had a really good game and the last couple of games he has actually been playing really well, but maybe not getting the bounces.”
“He is a guy with some offensive talent back there and we look for him to put points up. You could tell on his last goal tonight that he had that corner picked.”
Daschuk was also impressed with the play of Hester Saturday night.
“We played with six D, so he got a little bit more ice time than he usually does,” he said.
“He was great tonight, even five-on-five. He plays a lot of power play and his feet were moving good today. He was all over the puck tonight.”
Forward Landen Matechuk, making his first start in Rock uniform picked up a pair of assists and also impressed his assistant coach.
“Landen was pretty good, too,” Daschuk said.
“It is hard for a guy like him, jumping into the lineup in front of the home crowd. He is not sure what to expect. I am sure the last week for him was kind of all over the place. He had to fly into town and meet all the guys, new billet, new home.”
Matechuk started the game playing on a line with Kerr and Tristan Salesse, but the coaching staff moved him onto a line with Jordan Rendle and Zachary Kercz partway through the third period.
“We had been a bit snake bitten, getting a lot of shots, and not scoring, so sometimes a little juggling provides a little boost, almost like a goalie change,” Daschuk said.
“You are just looking to do something to change momentum any way you can.”
Matechuk was not too concerned who his linemates were, as long as the team was able to secure a big win.
“As long as everyone is passing the puck and working hard, any line combination is going to be successful,” he said.
“Everyone on this team works hard and passes the puck and we were really successful in the third period.”
The Fort Langley, B.C., native was acquired by the Rock from the English River Miners, of the SIJHL, a week ago.
“Today’s game was a bit of a rollercoaster, we were down 2-0 after the first period, but the team really rallied to overcome some adversity in the second period,” Matechuk said.
“Then, we were able to pull together the W and that’s all that matters.”
Voodoos coach Scott Wray, whose team dropped a 3-2 regulation decision to the Crunch in Cochrane Friday night, took little consolation from the fact they were at least able to gain a single point for forcing overtime Saturday night.
“We played probably one of our best first periods of the year, but you can’t just play 20 minutes of hockey,” he said.
“We unravelled and we have done it twice this month. It’s my job to figure it out. This was a tough loss.
“You don’t want to lose two games on a road trip, but if we win tomorrow we get three points out of six and take a split, but the Eskis have been playing pretty good hockey and we can’t take them lightly. We have to go in there and play hard.
“We have to learn from this and it’s a good thing it is happening now, instead of later in the season.”
Saturday’s victory allowed the Rock to pull within five points of the Voodoos, who are third in the NOJHL’s East Division standings, one point behind the second-place Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. The Voodoos do, however, still have four games in hand on the Rock
Ferrington made 35 saves to earn the win for the Rock, while Forrest turned aside 45 of the 49 shots he faced.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Castagna (first), Peters (second) and Matechuk (third) … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 2-6 with the man advantage … Saturday’s other NOJHL action saw the Eskis double the Cochrane Crunch 6-3 in Iroquois Falls, the Soo Eagles get past the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 3-1 in Sudbury and the Thunderbirds dump the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-2 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they travel to Cochrane to face the Crunch in the first game of a home-and-home series at the Tim Horton Event Centre. The second half of the series will be played at the McIntyre Arena on Saturday night.