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Rock left searching for answers

Elliot Lake Red Wings forward Zachary Vickerman and Timmins Rock forward Ethan Pool battle for a loose puck in the neutral zone during Saturday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Vickerman scored a pair of goals and added an assist to help lead the Red Wings to a 7-6 shootout win over the Rock and earn third star honours in the process. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The Timmins Rock are left searching for answers after a weekend that saw them pick up just one of a possible four points and blow a four-goal third-period lead Saturday night while dropping a 6-5 decision to the Elliot Lake Red Wings.


Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network


It was the second-straight setback on home ice at the McIntyre Arena for the Rock, although they were able to pick up a single point in the contest after going pointless in a 2-1 loss to the Blind River Beavers Friday night.

Needless to say Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was not impressed.

Asked what went wrong during the third-period collapse, he said, “I have absolutely no idea — none.”

Up 4-0 and dominating almost every aspect of the game, it looked like the Rock had things totally under control entering the third period.

“That’s what they (the players) thought, too,” Perry said.

“They just took their foot off the gas, thought we had it in the bag.”

Many fans were wondering why the coach didn’t call a time out after the second Red Wings goal to try and settle his troops down, but Perry indicated he didn’t think the move was warranted.

“Our guys know what they should do,” he said.

“It’s no secret, what am I going to tell them? Relax, play hard, they know all that.

“There was just no point.

“Our guys know what to do, but they were making big mistakes and they were ending up in the back of our net.”

“We had to go out there and stop the bleeding, but nobody did.”

RED WINGS 6 ROCK 5 SO

The Rock clearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night, dropping a 6-5 shootout decision to the Red Wings.

It was marked by the greatest third-period collapse since the Rock surrendered three goals in the final 1:59 of regulation during a game against the Cochrane Crunch on Feb. 12, 2019.

But at least in that contest the Rock were able to secure a 7-6 shootout victory.

No such luck Saturday night, as the Rock blew 4-0 (in the final 14:55 of the third period) and 5-2 leads before being outscored 2-0 in a shootout.

Alex Antoine beat Rock goalie Jacob Brown on the Red Wings’ first shootout attempt.

Rock sniper Brady Harroun was then foiled by Red Wings goalie Sean Guerin.

Brown then got his right pad across to deny the Red Wings second shooter, Tomas Palandra.

The Rock’s second shooter, Nolan Ring, was unable to beat Guerin, setting the stage for the Red Wings’ third shooter, Kaden Laverdiere, to clinch the victory by beating Brown.

For the first 45 minutes of the contest a shootout seemed like an unlikely scenario.

The Rock took a 1-0 lead in the contest at the 17-minute mark of the opening frame, as Yenry Jibb netted the first goal of his NOJHL career.

Nicholas Frederick then added a pair of goals, his fifth and sixth of the season, just over two minutes apart in the middle frame.

The first of those two tallies came just as a Rock power play expired, while the second was a shorthanded marker.

Jibb’s second goal of the night and season, with 1:18 remaining in the period, then increased the Rock advantage to 4-0 after 40 minutes of play.

“It was nice to see him get on the board,” Perry said.

At that point, it looked like the Rock were on the verge of ending their two-game losing skid.

The Red Wings clearly had other ideas, however, and Zachary Vickerman got the puck rolling when he netted an unassisted marker, his third goal of the season, five minutes into the third period.

Calum McGill added his second goal of the campaign 47 seconds later to cut the Rock lead to 4-2.

The Rock were able to temporarily stem the onslaught three minutes later when Lucas Piekarczyk netted his second goal of the season to push the advantage back to three goals.

It took the Red Wings just 16 seconds to get that one back, however, as Silas Crawford scored his third goal of the season.

The Red Wings then completed their improbable comeback with Vickerman netting his second goal of the night and fourth of the season and Tomas Palandra adding his first goal of the season.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in a five-minute three-on-three overtime session, setting the stage for the shootout.

“It was like two different hockey games,” Perry said.

“We played great for the first 40 minutes and then as bad as we could in the last 20 minutes (of regulation).”

Red Wings coach Chris Keleher was pleased to see his squad follow up on Friday night’s 6-3 win over the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake with another two points.

“The message during the (second) intermission was let’s just go have a good third period,” he said.

“It was as simple as that. I didn’t think our compete level was where it needed to be, especially in the second period.

“We just told them to go shift by shift and see what happens.

“When the score was 4-2 we had confidence and there was lots of time left. That fifth one was a tough one to give up, but we came right back.”

Keleher noted prior to the weekend, the Red Wings had struggled in the third period of games.

“So, for us to flip the script and have a big third period was a big character win for us, especially against a team like this in their barn.”

The Red Wings pulled goalie Cameron Smith at the start of the third period, with Guerin coming on in relief, but the coach indicated it had nothing to do with how he been playing to that point.

“Smitty had played every game for us, except one, and he played Friday night and I just thought the way we were playing in front of him, and we have another game Tuesday, we just wanted to give him the third period off,” Keleher said.

“Sean came in and he was a big reason we came back in the game. He made some big saves, especially on the penalty kill.”

The Rock will have almost a full week to regroup before heading out on the road to play the Voodoos in Powassan Friday night.

Asked if he will watch the video of Saturday night’s third period, or toss it in the trash, Perry said, “I will watch it, but I already know what it is going to tell me.

“We turned over pucks after pucks and they ended up in the back of our net.

“That’s exactly what the video is going to show me. We have got to figure it out here and figure it out quick.”

Guerin, who stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the third period and overtime, earned the victory.

Smith turned aside 21 of the 25 shots directed his way in the first two periods.

Brown, who blocked 23 of the 28 shots he saw in the contest, was tagged with the loss for the Rock.