THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock goalie Nicholas Dicks stops the final Rayside-Balfour Canadians shooter, blue-liner Zachary Snow, during the shootout in Saturday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Dicks stopped all three Rayside-Balfour shooters he faced and the Rock got a goal from Josh Dickson to secure a 4-3 victory and snap their two-game losing skid.
Josh Dickson buried the game’s first shootout attempt and Nicholas Dicks stopped all three shots he faced as the Timmins Rock edged the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 4-3 at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night.
After Rock snipers Derek Seguin and Keegan McMullen and Canadians Kyle Liinamaa and Benjamin Hatanaka were stopped, it all came down to Rayside-Balfour’s third attempt, but Zachary Snow was denied by Dicks to secure the victory for the home side.
Rock coach Corey Beer is a big fan of the NOJHL’s new method for deciding contests that are tied after 60 minutes of play.
“The new format is great,” he said.
“Three-on-three hockey in overtime provides end-to-end action. You could see it at both ends of the ice, with chances for both teams.
“And shootouts are a good way to end it. I am a big fan of having a win or a loss, no matter the format.”
Beer didn’t have to think too long or too hard before choosing which three Rock players to send out for the shootout.
“Josh Dickson is a very talented goal scorer,” he said.
“Derek Seguin is a guy who does everything for us and scores big goals. Keegan McMullen has tons of talent.
“We were ready with a couple of other guys, as well, if the need would have arisen.”
The coach was impressed by how Dicks stood tall during the shootout, as well.
“He played better in the third period and better in overtime,” Beer said.
“He was good in the shootout and it was a good two points for us tonight.”
The Rock jumped out to a 1-0 first-period lead Saturday night on Seguin’s third goal of the season.
McMullen’s second goal of the season, at the 15:16 mark of the middle frame, increased the Rock advantage to a pair of goals.
The Canadians rallied for a pair of goals 14 seconds apart, however, to tie things up at 2-2.
Christopher Clark’s second goal of the season, a power-play marker, got the puck rolling and then captain Evan Krassey added his third goal of the campaign on a strange play that saw the puck trickle between the pads of Dicks.
The Rock were able to regain the lead with just over two minutes remaining in the period when Riley Robitaille notched his first goal of the season.
That’s the way the score remained until just past the midway point of the third period when Hatanaka scored his first goal of the season to tie things up at 3-3.
A five-minute period of three-on-three overtime didn’t settle anything, resulting in the need for the shootout.
Beer was impressed with the play of the line of Seguin, Robitaille and Mahingan Decontie Saturday night.
“The three of them were absolute monsters,” he said.
“You can say that about Seguin and Robitaille every single night. Those two are absolutely dominant and they play the right way. They are really great at the 200-foot game and I thought Deco really settled down and got his game going. He is a very creative player.
“To be able to support two of our horses like that and contribute is a good thing for him. He was in and out of the lineup before, now he is getting a chance with the top dogs.”
The Rock spent countless hours in practice after their previous game — a 5-1 loss to the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake — working on their play on the defensive side of the puck and it paid off Saturday night.
“We had too many high-priority goals scored against us in the two previous games,” Beer said.
“I am still not happy with the way we played from the defence position. We were way too scrambly and we allowed some odd-man rushes against us. Guys were not playing the system properly and not supporting each other.
“We will have to try and do some good video before our next game.
“We hold our D to a pretty high standard and neutral zone defence is a huge thing for us. Sometimes they get to hear the brunt of it because it is such an isolated position. They are back there on an island some times. For the most part, I thought they were really good tonight. It was a great improvement from where we were during the game in Kirkland Lake.
“Overall, I thought we played really good in the first two periods and didn’t give them much, but they came at us in the third period. You can see why they went to the finals last year. They have a well-coached squad. They have big bodies and they play heavy.”
Forward Eamon Bollinger, acquired from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, played his first game in a Rock uniform Saturday night and he did not look out of place.
“I thought he was unbelievable tonight,” Beer said.
“He is a physical player and he wins a lot of puck battles. He is very good on the cycle. I think he is going to be a great fit for our locker room and our team.
“He plays the right way and he has good patience out there, too, for a big guy.”
Canadians coach Steven Lauzon was pleased to see his squad salvage a point on the road.
“This is a tough barn to play in with a good crowd,” he said.
“I love the environment. I thought we had a pretty slow start, but our guys battled back and it was a very exciting game. One bounce and we could have come away with the win.
“I am proud of the boys and proud of the effort, for sure.”
A number of the Canadians young guys impressed their coach Saturday night.
“Gio Biondi brings a lot of speed to our top line,” Lauzon said.
“We have a new fellow, Ben Hatanaka, and he is key on the draws and Brady Maltais had a solid, solid effort.
“Our big man, Ethan Lavalee, stepped up and played a good game, as well.
“We win and lose by committee, so we have to clean up a few things. We had too many giveaways in the first period and too many penalties.”
Canadians goalie Jean-Marc Brisson was solid in goal for the visitors, especially in the first period when they were outshot 17-4.
“Anywhere else and this would have been a W for us,” Lauzon said.
“He is heartbroken, losing in a shootout like this, but I am proud of him. It was a great effort. J.M. kept us in there and we battled and never quit.”
The Canadians don’t appear to have any high-scoring individuals, but they have a number of players capable of chipping in with a goal here or three.
“That’s why I always preach about winning by committee,” Lauzon said.
“Everybody chips in. We don’t have that prolific goal scorer, but we have some guys who have got some flash.
“It’s a bring your lunch pail to work mentality, hard work and earn your shifts. We are young and we have to work hard.”
Dicks stopped 34 of the 37 shots he faced to pick up his first NOJHL victory.
Canadians goalie Jean-Marc Brisson turned aside 41 of the 44 shots the Rock directed his way and he was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Dickson, Seguin and Krassey … Rock defenceman Luka Bolduc and Canadians forward Brett McGlade were tossed from the contest in the second period after they were each assessed five-minute majors for fighting and game misconducts … The Rock did not dress forwards Maxime Charbonneau (one-game suspension), Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury), Austin Holmes (healthy scratch) and Maxime Piquette (healthy scratch), as well as defenceman Ian Elkins (healthy scratch) … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 768 … Saturday nightֹ’s other action saw the Gold Miners edge the Cochrane Crunch 3-2 in Kirkland Lake, the Lumberjacks get past the Powassan Voodoos 3-2 in overtime in Hearst, the Espanola Express double up the Rapids 4-2 in French River and the Elliot Lake Wildcats dump the Eagles 5-2 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.