Rock drawing national attention following two more wins over the weekend
The Timmins Rock continue to roll through their home-heavy schedule in the early portion of this NOJHL season, as they came away with two highly impressive victories over quality opponents this weekend.
TIMMINS ROCK 3, HEARST LUMBERJACKS 0 (Saturday)
Looking to avenge their only regulation loss this season, the Rock welcomed the rival Hearst Lumberjacks to The Mac for a Saturday night showdown. The official crowd of 897 spectators didn’t have to wait long to cheer, as tenacious forward Tyler Schwindt fired a shot through the pads of Hearst goalie Rahul Bola just over three minutes into the first period.
Captain Derek Seguin scored his fifth of the season on the powerplay at the 14:03 mark of the opening frame to give the home side a two-goal cushion heading into the intermission.
Seguin added his second of the game just over two minutes into the second for a 3-0 lead.
Hearst coach Marc Lafleur opted to pull Bola at that point for Halifax native Liam Oxner. Bola, who had a strong game in his first appearance in Timmins, wasn’t as sharp this time around, although the Lumberjacks appeared a bit sluggish and out of sorts for most of the game.
After that, it was a clinical effort from the Rock. Good puck movement, quick changes, and a puck possession game that left Hearst frustrated. Despite the fierce rivalry, and the testiness of the last matchup, the game didn’t feature as many penalties and scrums as one might expect from these two teams.
Rock forward Stewart Parnell played his first game back from suspension, after a boarding major against Lumberjacks defenceman Justin Miron last matchup. Miron also played his first game back, but there were no major confrontations.
Rock rookie goaltender Vance Meyer picked up his second consecutive shutout in the victory, making 24 saves in the process. Bola took the loss for Hearst, while Oxner stopped all 17 shots he faced. Rock defenceman Josh Anderson picked up two assists.
The Rock were thrilled with the big win, but didn’t have much time to dwell, as a Sunday afternoon matinee loomed.
TIMMINS ROCK 6, RAYSIDE-BALFOUR CANADIANS 2 (Sunday)
A red hot, and West Division leading Rayside-Balfour Canadians club came to Timmins for their only visit this season on Sunday afternoon. But playing their third contest in less than 72 hours, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
The Rock absolutely dominated and overwhelmed a tired, and banged-up Canadians squad who clearly didn’t have much in the tank.
Tyler Gilberds, Karter Renouf, Seguin, and Riley Brousseau all scored in the opening frame to take the wind out of the sails of the Canadians, and their star goaltender David Bowen. The Rock were up on the shot clock 18-8 after 20 minutes.
Rookie Cameron Kosurko scored his fourth of the year less than two minutes into the second, followed by another snipe from Seguin at the 13:11 mark to put Timmins up 6-0.
The Canadians got on the board just under four minutes into the third with a powerplay goal from Avery Chisholm. Oliver Smith cut the lead to 6-2 with his seventh goal of the season at the 8:14 mark, but that’s as close as it got, and the Rock skated away with another convincing win to put a bow on yet another solid weekend.
Tyler Masternak picked up the win, stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced, including several highlight-reel worthy glove saves during Rayside powerplays.
Renouf notched an NOJHL career high four points on a goal and three helpers.
“We got the forecheck going right off the hop. We got up and worked hard against a team that was coming in tired, 3-in-3 for them, so that was a big part of our game plan, and it led to success,” he said post-game.
Rock head coach Corey Beer was very pleased with the team’s focus and effort.
“Great game. Great game from us, top to bottom,” he said.
“I thought our puck movement was incredible all weekend. It’s a big four points for us.”
The one negative was an injury to defenceman Owen Shier whose right eye was scratched during an altercation. He left the game immediately and was taken by team staff to Timmins and District Hospital to stop some bleeding. He did rejoin his teammates post-game and is considered day-to-day.
Each Monday the Canadian Junior Hockey League announces its ‘Top 20’ rankings for Junior ‘A’ teams across the country, and for the first time in a long time, the Rock are getting noticed.
They are now ranked 14th in Canada. The NOJHL is well represented. The East Division leading Powassan Voodoos are ranked 6th, while the Blind River Beavers are ranked 16th.
“We’re looking good right now. We’ve got 4 lines and 6 ‘D’ every night that are playing well, and no one can really keep up with us right now,” said Rock forward Josh Dickson after Sunday’s game.
The Rock are in action again on Friday with a home game against the Soo Eagles at 7 p.m., as well as another Sunday matinee – this time against the French River Rapids at 2 p.m.