Rock overcome sluggish start

Timmins Rock forwards Christopher Engelbert and Tyler Patterson prepare to pounce on a rebound in front of Hearst Lumberjacks goalie Liam Oxner during the second period of Tuesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Unfortunately for Rock fans neither forward was able to gain control of the puck, but it did not matter as the Rock went on to post a 5-4 victory. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The Timmins Rock rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Hearst Lumberjacks 5-4 at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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The Daily Press – GALLERY: Rock roll into top spot

With the victory, the Rock (18-3-1-1) moved into top spot in the NOJHL’s overall and East Division standings — two points up on the Powassan Voodoos (16-4-3-1) and three points ahead of the Lumberjacks (17-6-1-0).

And the Rock, who avenged a 6-3 loss to the Lumberjacks in Hearst on Sunday, still have a game in hand on each of those opponents.

The way Tuesday’s contest started, however, it did not look like Rock fans would have anything to celebrate.

And Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry certainly wasn’t pleased with what he saw during that opening 20 minutes.

“We have just been sloppy, sloppy in our own end lately and it has been four or five games in a row here now,” he said.

“We are going to have to take a look at it and maybe make some adjustments.

“We are not playing nowhere near what we are capable of playing, nowhere near where we have been at times this season.

“Maybe it is just a stretch with a lot of games and not many practices, not a lot of time to sharpen up.

“We have not been at our best, but kudos to our guys for stepping up and getting it done.”

Ryan Glazer, who had a hat-trick in Sunday’s contest, got the Lumberjacks on the scoreboard first Tuesday night, as he notched his eighth goal of the season at the 8:06 mark of the opening period.

The Rock got back on even terms just over seven minutes later, when captain Tyler Schwindt netted his 17th goal of the season.

But it took the Lumberjacks just over a minute to regain their advantage, with Cody Walker netting his second goal of the season.

And, with 47 seconds remaining in the frame, Glazer netted his second goal of the night and ninth of the season to give the Lumberjacks a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

Asked about the motivational speech he gave his Rock players between periods, Perry indicated we would not be able to print most of the words in a family newspaper.

“I just challenged some guys,” he said.

“Some of them stepped up and some of them didn’t. That’s the way it goes.

“A lot of guys in our room have got to be better. They have all kinds of talent, they have all kinds of ability, but for whatever reason they just won’t work.

“They just don’t want to do the things we need them to do. A lot players just think it is a magic wand, they have this ability, they are going to go out there and things are going to happen for them.

“I think they forget sometimes it is a really, really hard game.

“The harder you work, the more space you create to use your talent and use your skills.”

Justin Charette’s seventh tally of the season, less than two minutes into the second period, pulled the Rock back to within a single goal.

Blue-liner Bode Dunford then added a power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season, to tie things up at 3-3.

The Rock took their first lead of the game at the 4:31 mark of the third period, with Riley Brousseau netting his ninth goal of the season.

Blue-liner Jaden Raad’s fifth goal of the season, seven minutes later, once again deadlocked the score.

With just over five minutes to play in the contest, Tyler Gilberds netted what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his eighth tally of the season.

“The puck came up the wall and then somehow it squirted to the middle,” Gilberds said.

“Ringer (Nolan Ring) was lucky enough to get it under the stick and find me and I went post and in.”

The 20-year-old Georgetown, Ont., native knew the Rock had to pick up their intensity after the first period.

“We got back to the things that have made us successful,” Gilberds said.

“I think that’s what helped us out tonight.”

With Tuesday’s contest marking the first of four games in six nights for the Rock, Gilberds knew it was important for the team to start the stretch on a positive note.

“It was huge,” he said.

“Obviously, we want to keep winning. Winning makes us happy and going into the three (games) in three (nights) coming up we are going to have some confidence.”

The Lumberjacks pulled goalie Liam Oxner in favour of an extra attacker with a minute and a half remaining on the clock but they were unable to generate an equalizer.

It has often been said good teams find ways to win when they are not at their best and Perry was able to take a bit of comfort from that fact Tuesday night.

“Even in the first period tonight, at one point the shots were 11-5 (in favour of the Rock), so we weren’t playing that bad,” he said.

“We were playing in the O zone, but it just seemed like every time the puck came down to our end, every mistake we made … some mistakes happen, like a control breakout and Freddie (Felix Cadieux-Fredette) fanned on the pass, that happens, but where’s our recovery?

“Where is everybody else? We are going to make mistakes. No question about it. We are not some special hockey team where mistakes don’t happen.

“Mistakes are going to happen, they are going to happen often, they are going to happen in shifts, in periods and in games, but where are we when these things happen?

“It seemed like every mistake we made (during the first period) ended up in the back of our net and we were down 3-1.”

Even more important than finding a way to win, the Rock found a way to win in regulation and deny the Lumberjacks any points.

“That’s always nice, especially in this tight race, the Top 3 in the East (Division),” Perry said.

“We are 4-1 against those guys this year and we know what we are capable of and I think they know what we are capable of, as well.

“I thought the first three games against them we really played well. These last two weren’t our best.

“It is a long season and I am sure we will see them down the road at some point.”

Even though the Rock won Tuesday night’s contest the list of players who impressed their coach was a short one.

“I thought Justin Charette was absolutely phenomenal tonight,” Perry said.

“It is not too often a 16-year-old kid is the one who gets you back in a hockey game, gets you going.

“He was definitely our heartbeat tonight. Can’t say enough good things about that kid, the way he works every single day and how much he cares about his game.”

The Rock lost forward Nicolas Pigeon to a lower-body injury partway through the contest.

Forward Dylan McElhinny also left the game briefly, but he was able to return a short time later.

Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy, who stopped 23 of the 27 shots he faced, picked up his 14th win of the season.

Oxner, who turned aside 33 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 Brousseau, Glazer and Charette … Lumberjacks coach Marc Alain Begin, a star player with the Rock organization when the team was located in Iroquois Falls, served the third game of a three-game suspension he picked up for disrespectful, abusive and harassing behavior during his team’s 5-1 win over the Crunch in Cochrane on Nov. 25 … The Rock went 1-3 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 0-3 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 538 … The Rock will return to action on Friday when the host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.