Rock fine tune roster

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS The Timmins Rock have traded blue-liner Ian Elkins — shown here defending against Powassan Voodoos forward William Petrie during an NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena on Oct. 21 — to the Elliot Lake Wildcats in exchange for a player development fee. With the Rock having eight blue-liners on the roster, it was felt the 20-year-old Elkins would not get enough ice time had he stayed with the team.

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The Timmins Rock continue to tinker with their roster in advance of Saturday’s 7 p.m. deadline for being down to 25 player cards.

A series of moves this week have seen the Rock bring in one player while dealing away two others and the rights to a third.

With the arrival of new backup goaltender Jean-Marc Brisson — late of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians — last week, it was only a matter of time before his predecessor Nicholas Dicks received his walking papers.

That occurred on Tuesday, with the 2000-birth-year Newmarket native being dealt to the Cambridge Redhawks, of the GOJHL, in exchange for a player development fee.

Stuck behind the NOJHL’s top goalie, Tyler Masternak, Dicks (367:00, 2-4-0-0, 0, 3.11, .886) just wasn’t seeing enough action to allow him to properly develop his game.

As a result of the transaction, the goaltending picture in the Rock crease is pretty clear, with Masternak (1,325, 16-5-1-0, 6, 1.95, .926) — the NOJHL’s busiest goalie, who leads or is near the top of every important netminding category — firmly established as the Rock’s No. 1 puck stopper.

Brisson (432:00, 3-4-0-0, 0, 2.92, .922), who started the year with the Canadians, has yet to see any action since signing with the Rock, but with the team in the midst of a three games in four nights streak that will see them host the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena Friday night that could soon change.

“Nicholas is a 2000-birth-year goalie who needs to play and he wasn’t getting afforded that opportunity behind Tyler Masternak,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.

“Nicholas came in here, new to Junior ‘A’ hockey and he did a great job, worked hard every day. He is a very low-maintenance kid and very respectful.

“This move is a chance for us to get him to a spot where he can play more and develop his game. It was not fair to him to be sitting on the bench every night.

“We can’t thank him enough for the job he did for us while he was here.”

The Rock also made a move to reduce their blue-line to seven skaters when they dealt Ian Elkins (22, 0-10-10, 10) to the Elliot Lake Wildcats in exchange for a player development fee.

Elkins, a 1998-birth-year Markham native, had been in his first year with the Rock.

“It was almost an identical situation with Ian, who is a 20 year old and needs to play,” Beer said.

“He is in his last year of Junior ‘A’ hockey and it wouldn’t be right for him to be in and out of the lineup, not able to work his craft the way he will be able to in Elliot Lake.

“Ian was great for us. He helped to stabilize our D early on, but then some of the younger guys got going and they need a little bit more ice time.

“Unfortunately, that meant he was going to be an in-and-out of the lineup guy if he would have stayed with us.”

With Elkins departure, the Rock blue-liner now consists of Josh Anderson (25, 4-16-20, 41), Will Caston (26, 1-11-12, 43), James Redmond (6, 0-1-1, 4), Luka Bolduc (23, 4-1-5, 15), Eric Moreau (21, 0-5-5, 8) and a pair of 16-year-olds — Owen Shier (25, 2-7-9, 12) and Carson Burlington (19, 1-1-2, 18).

The return of Redmond, a right-shooting blue-liner with offensive upside to his game, to the lineup following off-season surgery to correct an upper-body injury issue clearly played a factor in the Rock decision.

“Absolutely, Reddy coming back certainly changed things and made us a lot deeper on the back end,” Beer confirmed.

“I also think the emergence of Eric Moreau as an everyday player, was a factor as well. He is a guy who is a 2001 and keeps getting better game-in and game-out.

“Sometimes when that happens you get into a rotation that is not fair to older guys.

“Then, you look at the emergence of some other players, like Carson Burlington and Owen Shier, who are both playing great minutes.

“It was a logjam back there and we needed guys to play, so it wouldn’t have been right to hold onto Ian that way.”

Up front, the Rock have acquired 2000-birth-year forward Ben Jossinet from Red Lake Miners, of the SIJHL, in exchange for the rights to 1999-birth-year forward Evan Kentish-Stack and a player development fee.

Jossinet (5, 0-0-0, 4), a 5-11, 185 pound native of Okotoks, Alta., spent the 2017-18 campaign with the North Okanagan Knights (44, 7-5-12, 26), of the KIJHL.

“Ben is a right-shooting, skilled player who has almost the same kind of skill set as Josh Dickson had at the start of the year,” Beer said.

“He is a very talented player, but we will have to get him up to speed systems. We think he is a guy who has good speed, the ability to make plays and score goals.

“He will get some opportunities here and, as a 2000-birth-year player, we will have some time to work with him. We are really excited to get him in here.”

Kentish-Stack, meanwhile, has not played for the Rock since the 2017-18 campaign (49, 9-5-14, 24).

And with the Timmins native studying kinesiology at Western University in London, it is highly unlikely he will report to the Miners — something Red Lake’s management was well aware of when they completed the transaction.

“You can never replace what a guy like Kenty did for this team,” Beer said.

“He was a leader for us and one of those heart and soul guys, one of the best players I have been able to coach in terms of being a good teammate.

“He is just a phenomenal kid and he was a big part of our team last year, that’s for sure.”

Rock general manager Kevin Peever was working on a couple of other transactions in advance of Saturday’s deadline, but nothing had been confirmed as of late Thursday afternoon.

The Rock, who took on the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake Thursday night (details not available at press time), will play the first half of a home-and-home series with Hearst when they host the Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena Friday night, with the return engagement schedule for the Claude Larose Arena Sunday afternoon.

NOJHL NOTES — The Gold Miners dealt 1999-birth-year forward Max Newnam (21, 12-8-20, 60) to the Powassan Voodoos on Wednesday in exchange for a player development fee … The Gold Miners also acquired 1999-birth-year blue-liner Troy Daniels (23, 1-4-5, 10) from the Wildcats … The Cochrane Crunch also added to their blue-line, picking up 1999-birth-year D-man Liam Anderson (21, 0-3-3, 12) from the Steinbach Pistons, of the MJHL … The Blind River Beavers have acquired 1999-birth-year goalie Jackson Hjelle (3.01, .899) from the Swan Valley Stampeders, of the MJHL.