Timmins Rock forward Riley Brousseau goes down to one knee as he lifts the puck up an over Hearst Lumberjacks goalie Matteo Gennaro during the first period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Brousseau finished the contest with two goals as the Rock held on to edge the Lumberjacks 4-3. The Rock will return to action on Friday when they host the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
Gavin McCarthy made 39 saves to backstop the Timmins Rock to a 4-3 win over the Hearst Lumberjacks in a penalty-filled NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
The 18-year-old netminder was especially sharp during the final four minutes of the contest.
With Nicholas Frederick, one of the Rock’s top penalty killers, in the box for tripping, Nicolas Pigeon was assessed a double minor for kneeing, giving the Lumberjacks a two-man advantage.
With his team trailing 4-2 at the time, Hearst coach Marc-Alain Begin opted to pull goalie Matteo Gennaro in favour of an extra attacker giving the Lumberjacks a six-on-three advantage.
It took just 31 seconds for Liam Doyle to beat McCarthy for a power-play marker, his second goal of the season, and pull the Lumberjacks to within a goal.
Still on the power play, the Lumberjacks once again pulled Gennaro in favour of an extra attacker to set up a six-on-four advantage, but McCarthy held them at bay until the final buzzer sounded making the final score 4-3 in favour of the Rock.
“Any time you can get two points against Hearst, it’s a good night,” McCarthy said.
“A lot of the 42 shots were outside shots and I am expected to make those saves.”
The Rock got off to a strong start Friday night, as Riley Brousseau scored the first of his two goals on the night and fourth of the season to put the home side up 1-0 at the 4:42 mark of the opening period.
Christopher Engelbert then added a power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season, just over 10 minutes later to double the Rock advantage.
The Lumberjacks were able to get on the scoreboard before the end of the frame, as blue-liner Dylan Ford netted an unassisted marker, his fourth tally of the season.
It appeared the puck took an unusual bounce, catching McCarthy by surprise on the play.
“The first and second goals were shots from the point that got redirected, but in the end I have to find a way to make those saves,” he said.
“Luckily tonight we came away with the two points and that’s all that matters.”
Brousseau added another power-play marker, his second of the night and fifth of the season to increase the Rock lead to 3-1 at the 5:14 mark of the second period.
The Rock carried that two-goal advantage into the third period and Tyler Gilberds added his sixth goal of the season six minutes into the final frame to make it a 4-1 hockey game.
Ryan Glazer’s first NOJHL goal just shy of the midway mark in the frame pulled the Lumberjacks within a pair of goals and set the stage for the wild finish.
With Friday night’s victory, the Rock (11-1-1-0) now trail the Powassan Voodoos (11-2-2-1) by two points atop the NOJHL overall and East Division standings and they still have three games in hand.
The Lumberjacks (9-3-1-0), third in the East Division, now trail the Rock by four points.
McCarthy was quick to give credit to his teammates after the contest, noting how well they played in front of him.
“Perrs (Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry) has us playing the right way, doing things hard and doing the things he has taught us,” he said.
“We are executing and that’s why we have had so much success, so far.”
McCarthy has now seen action in 11 of the Rock’s 13 games this season and he is thriving on the workload.
“I had 18 months off and I am ready to go,” he said.
“I will play as many as they need me to play.”
Before the franchise relocated to Timmins from Iroquois Falls they had a goalie named Eddie Davey whose nickname was “Every Day” because of the time he spent between the pipes (45 regular season and 17 playoff games in 2009-10).
If McCarthy keeps up his current pace, the Rock just might have to bring that nickname out of retirement.
Perry wasn’t surprised to see the intensity level so high Friday night.
“It’s no secret these two teams don’t like each other,” he said.
“Obviously, it is not the way we want to play hockey, getting involved in that kind of stuff, but I am proud of the way the guys stuck up for each other and played tough, played physical.
“It was just a good win.
“Our penalty kill did a tremendous job all night, especially in the last three minutes there. I am super proud of the PK, the way they competed out there.
“Gavin was solid back there and it was just a good, solid team win. It was like a back alley brawl kind of thing, so to speak, kind of the way Timmins and Hearst play each other traditionally.”
Perry noted the importance of winning Friday night’s contest in regulation and denying the Lumberjacks any points.
“That’s huge, but more importantly the win, just because we have to play them in the playoffs. If we want to win the East we have got to get through Hearst or Powassan.
“It is super important to leave your mark during the season that you are not an easy team to play against. Every night you come into the Mac it is going to be a long one.
“For most of this game, I think we did that.”
In addition to McCarthy, a number of other Rock players impressed their coach Friday night.
“Riley Brousseau was fantastic tonight, playing in all situations,” Perry said.
“He was quarterbacking the power play when we lost (Cameron) Dutkiewicz, stepping in and running it from the top there.
“It was nice to see him get rewarded with a couple of goals. He has been fantastic all season.
“It’s the same with Gibby (Gilberds) who has started to heat up a little bit. If you ask him, he would say his start (to the season) was a little slow, but this is three games in a row now that he has scored.
“Things are starting to go in for him and those two guys were good tonight.
“I thought Tyler Patterson had a really, really good game for us. He is a smaller guy, not really his game, but he was out there throwing the body.
“All five guys on the back end were good. Dunner (Bode Dunford) is just a monster. He eats up a ton of minutes, he is so good.
“They all battled. Hammer (Tanner Hamilton) was blocking shots. (Felix Cadieux-)Fredette was awesome.”
While the final score was not the outcome Begin had been hoping for heading into Friday night’s contest, he felt his squad played a solid game.
“Obviously, when you come into a barn like Timmins it is always going to be hard to get the two points,” he said.
“After getting down 4-1 we battled back to make it 4-3, but we just couldn’t get the last goal to tie it at the end.
“We had a six-on-three and we were able to score early on that, which is always a plus. Then we still had a six-on-four, but we just couldn’t get the puck by their goalie.
“The boys battled hard and after everything that happened during the night we still have to be happy with the way they kept battling.
“We had a couple of guys out on D and we had some forwards who stepped up and played on defence, so hats off to them.”
Begin was also pleased with the play of his goaltender.
“I thought Matteo kept us in the game, especially in the third period when they had that five-on-three (power play),” he said.
“In the end, it wasn’t the outcome we wanted but it is going to make us a better team.”
Glazer, who was playing just his second game in a Lumberjacks uniform, also caught the coach’s eye Friday night.
“I like his work ethic,” Begin said.
“I like the intangibles he brings to the game. He works hard, he finishes his checks.”
McCarthy, who stopped 39 of the 42 shots he faced, picked up his ninth win of the season.
Gennaro, who blocked 34 of the 38 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were McCarthy, Brousseau and Glazer … The Rock went 2-7 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 1-7 with the man advantage … Dutkiewicz and Lumberjacks D-man Liam McDonald were both ejected from the contest early in the second period after they both received five-minute majors for fighting and game misconducts … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena Friday night was 611 … Friday’s other action saw the Voodoos thump the Cochrane Crunch 9-2 in Powassan, the French River Rapids flow past the Gold Miners 5-2 in Kirkland Lake, the Eagles edge the Elliot Lake Red Wings 4-3 in the Sault, Mich., and the Greater Sudbury Cubs get past the Thunderbirds 4-3 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The contest between the Blind River Beavers and the Express in Espanola was postponed … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they host the Crunch at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.