Timmins Rock forward Liam Wells bowels over Hearst forward Brayden Palfi just inside the Lumberjacks’ blue-line during the second period of Tuesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Wells, one of the Rock’s more feisty players, picked up eight minutes in penalties during the game, but it would not matter as his squad went on to post a 5-1 victory — its third-straight to open the 2022-23 NOJHL campaign. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
Brady Harroun scored his NOJHL-leading third and fourth goals of the season to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 5-1 win over the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night.
It was the first meeting between the two teams since Game 7 of the NOJHL East Division final series on April 29, with Rock fans enjoying the outcome a lot more than they did the previous encounter.
Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was, for the most part, pleased with what he saw from his squad Tuesday night.
“Obviously, there some stuff we need to clean up, just typical stuff you see early on in the season when play is a little sloppy and messy at times,” he said.
“We have to tighten up in our D zone, but the results are there and we couldn’t ask for much more.”
With the victory, the Rock improve to 3-0-0-0 to start the season and sit in top spot in the East Division standings — tied for first overall with the West Division’s Greater Sudbury Cubs (3-0-0-0).
Meanwhile, the loss drops the Lumberjacks’ record to 1-2-0-0 good for a three-way tie for second place in the East Division.
The Rock jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 2:03 into the contest, as Justin Charette netted his first goal of the season.
Harroun’s third tally of the season, with 3:38 remaining in the opening frame, increased the Rock advantage to 2-0.
That goal would stand up to be the game-winning marker, the first in three-straight Rock victories to open the season not scored by Nicholas Frederick.
Cody Walker got the Lumberjacks on the scoreboard 3:11 into the second period when he netted his first goal of the season.
Harroun’s second goal of the game and fourth of the season, just past the midway mark in the frame, restored the Rock’s two-goal advantage.
And, with just 19 seconds remaining on the clock, Frederick raced in to score his third goal in three games, a shorthanded tally, to send the Rock to the dressing room for the second intermission up 4-1.
Blue-liner Kenyon Nyman rounded out the scoring at the 7:47 mark of the third period when he drilled home his first NOJHL goal from the point.
The Rock coach was once again please to see his top line — Harroun, Pigeon and Lucas Piekarczyk — setting the pace offensively, but also happy with the secondary scoring the team has been receiving.
“I can’t say enough about Nicholas Frederick, as a player and as a person,” Perry said.
“I am a big fan and we are absolutely happy to have him back this year. I just love the way he plays the game and the way he competes.
“He gets results because he never stops working.”
Perhaps even more impressive than the five goals the Rock scored Tuesday night is that they limited the Lumberjacks’ high-scoring offence to just one marker.
“We didn’t anticipate much in the D zone and I think we have to clean that up, but that’s why we have the goaltenders we have,” Perry said.
“We brought in a guy like Patty (Patrick Boivin) in the off season because we are extremely confident with him back there.
“As you saw tonight, he is really calm and really poised. He is a game-changer for us, he really is.”
A number of other Rock skaters caught the attention of their coach, as well.
“I thought Hayden Rynard was absolutely fantastic tonight and Thomas Beard had an incredible game,” Perry said.
“Up and down the lineup, take your pick, I thought everybody had their moments.
“It was just a great team win.”
Three games into the 2022-23 campaign, Frederick is one-third of the way to matching the nine goals in scored in 33 games last season.
“I have just been working hard and our line has been going good so far,” he said, attempting to explain his new-found scoring prowess.
“It’s nice to get rewarded every game when we are going that hard, the goals are going to come along with it (hard work).”
Tuesday night, Frederick was on a line with Nolan Ring and Daniel Beaupre.
“We made a good play on the face-off and the bounce went through the D-man’s legs and it worked out for us,” he said, describing his third goal of the season.
“We got a break off of it.”
Lumberjacks’ coach Marc-Alain Begin admitted his squad was not up to the task of matching the play of the Rock Tuesday night.
“The new guys didn’t know what to expect when you play a team like Timmins, especially in this barn,” he said.
“I have been here five or six years and I know it is a hard place to win.
“You have to bring it every night. One of our key points was matching their intensity and I think they took advantage of our sloppiness and our not being willing to win every puck battle.
“It showed in the results.”
Having said that, the Lumberjacks clearly have a great deal of talent and it is just going to be a matter of time until they come together as a team.
“We have a solid core and we have a few guys coming in, also,” Begin said.
“One was here, but he (forward Brandan Tronchin, acquired from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos) couldn’t play. We just picked him up at the airport. He will be a good player in this league.”
The Lumberjacks were forced to use a couple of forwards on the blue-line Tuesday night, due to a shortage of D-men.
“It’s not the recipe for success, but I like our team,” Begin said.
“It is just going to take more grit.”
Even though the roster of both the Rock and the Lumberjacks Tuesday night featured many new players, it didn’t take long for the rivalry to ramp up to the intensity of previous years.
“They have a physical team,” Begin said.
“You look at a player like Liam Wells, he tries to hit everything that moves. We have just got to match that.
“We maybe don’t have a guy like that, but we have got to be physical, also.”
Despite the score, Begin had plenty of praise for his blue-line and is also confident his offence will come together.
“Some of them played 30, 35 minutes,” he said.
“I think of Noah Janicki and Ethan Kitsch, who will be a big part of this team going forward.
“With all the talent we have up front, it’s just a matter of going back to the drawing board and making sure we are ready next time.”
Boivin stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced to earn his second win of the season.
Matteo Gennaro, who started in net for the Lumberjacks and blocked 16 of the 20 shots the Rock directed his way in two periods of action, was tagged with the loss.
Ethan Dinsdale came on in relief in the third period and stopped eight of the nine shots he faced.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Harroun, Frederick and Pigeon … The Rock went 1-5 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 0-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 542 … Tuesday’s only other contest saw the Red Wings double up the Soo Thunderbirds 8-4 in Elliot Lake … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they travel to Cochrane for a game against the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre, at 7 p.m. The next home game will see the Rock host the Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel