FRENCH RIVER — The Timmins Rock have regained possession of top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings — at least temporarily — following a 6-1 win over the Rapids at the Noelville Arena Saturday night.
With a record of 40-10-1-1, good for 82 points, the Rock have a one-point advantage on the Voodoos (40-8-1-0), but Powassan has three games in hand on their East Division rivals.
Saturday night’s victory saw the Rock conclude a two-game weekend road trip that started with a 3-1 loss to the Voodoos in Powassan Friday night.
The Rock did not let that setback bother them Saturday night, as they came out flying — outshooting the Rapids 21-3 and outscoring them 3-0 in the opening period.
“We were moving the puck tonight, capitalizing on our opportunities, the power play was clicking and our PK (penalty kill) was great again,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.
“We did a lot of things well and made sure we limited their chances.
“That first period, if we were going to get ourselves into any kind of a lull from Friday night, it was negated right away because of how hard we pressed.
“We got a couple of goals there and that put it to bed. From the start of the game, we were really good.”
Zach Smith got things started for the Rock when he scored his first of two goals on the night and seventh of the season at the 12:08 mark.
Karter Renouf followed with his first of two goals on the night and 16th of the campaign four-and-a-half minutes later.
Captain Derek Seguin then wrapped up the first-period onslaught when he netted his first of two goals on the night and 24th of the season with 1:49 remaining on the clock.
Renouf struck for his second goal of the night and 17th of the campaign just 1:09 into the middle frame.
The Rapids finally gave their home fans something to cheer about just over seven minutes later when Ty Chambers netted his 16th goal of the season to cut the French River deficit to 4-1.
A pair of third-period tallies helped the Rock wrap things up and make the final 6-1 in favour of the visitors.
Seguin’s second goal of the night and 25th of the season, a power-play marker, increase the Rock advantage to four goals.
Smith then added his second goal of the night and eighth of the campaign less than three minutes later to close out the scoring.
Beer was naturally pleased with the play of his three two-goal scorers in Saturday night’s contest.
“You look at a guy like Smitty and he is playing his best hockey of the year right now,” he said.
“We had a little chat a while back to talk about him getting back to his good traits and he has been outstanding the last five or six games.
“He has got offensive flair, but he has a stocky build and he can be real physical at times.
“It was great to see him get rewarded tonight.
“Karter always finds himself around the net and he is a good trigger man.
“He finds ways to put goals in and he has really found a good way to play with Seguin and (Josh) Dickson. They are two top-end players and it is not always easy play with them, but he has done a really good job of assimilating himself with those two and they have become a great line for us.
“What else can you say about Derek, the way he plays. He scored a gorgeous goal on a backhand and got a power-play one-timer from the corner.
“He does whatever we need. He is a very selfless player and he shows night-in and night-out why he is our leader.”
Dickson and blue-liner Owen Shier also had big offensive nights, as each picked up three assists in the contest.
“I thought Friday night, against Powassan, Josh probably tried to be a little too much of a responsible player,” Beer said.
“He has so much offensive flair and when he is playing at the best of his game, he is exposing opposing teams’ defencemen. He is challenging them. He is making creative plays in the neutral zone with speed.
“He is one of the best students of the game we have in our lineup. He learns so much, where to be at the right time and it pays off with the skill he has.
“For him to get a multi-point night, with the three assists, is great to see. It shows why he is one of our top point getters.
“For Owen, he was playing on a different power play tonight and his shot was good.
“He is 17 years old and you forget that sometimes. He can be an offensive threat and a big part of his game is when he is not just out there playing a physical role, when he gets himself involved in the offence.
“He played a good game tonight.”
The coach also had plenty of praise for another blue-liner, Eric Moreau.
“He is Mr. Does Everything Right, from the way he prepares on the bus, to hopping off the bus, to the pre-game warm-up, stretching,” Beer said.
“This kid is a pro, through and through. He is an incredible person and you talk about the infectious nature of leadership that Seguin brings and for Eric it is him in the room.
“You see him every day and he always has that great smile on his face and he wants to get better. He wants to show everyone how to do things the right way.”
Rock goalie Vance Meyer turned aside 20 of the 21 shots directed his way to earn his 16th win of the season.
Rapids netminder Ben Montgomery, who blocked 46 of the 52 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss
VOODOOS 3 ROCK 1
The Rock’s hopes of finishing in top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings were dealt a severe blow Friday night at the Sportsplex, following a 3-1 loss to the Voodoos.
It was the third-straight loss for the Rock at the hands of the Voodoos in less than a month.
“The most frustrating part for us was for most of the night we didn’t execute our game plan the way we probably should have,” Beer said.
“We tried to force pucks into bad areas and when that happens and you are playing a good team like Powassan and you look at the way (Voodoos coach) Max (Gavin) has those guys playing.
“You have to find different ways to get creative against them. We had some of that in our game plan, but unfortunately we didn’t stick to it.”
The Voodoos jumped out to a 2-1 first-period lead Friday night, even though they were outshot 16-9 by the Rock.
Ryan Mills got the home side on the scoreboard first when he netted his 15th goal of the season at the 7:18 mark.
Rock captain Derek Seguin got the visitors back on even terms just under seven minutes later when he scored his 23rd goal of the season.
The Voodoos regained the lead before the end of the period, however, as blue-liner Eric Mondoux netted his sixth goal of the season with just 53 seconds remaining on the clock.
Rock starting goalie Tyler Masternak was lifted after the opening period, with Meyer coming on to finish up the game.
“Ty injured himself and he is going to be out for a little bit here, minimum of a week, with an upper-body injury,” Beer said.
“He hurt himself on a play in front of the net and subsequently I think their second goal was a direct result of that.
“Vance came in and did a great job and gave us every chance to hang in that game and obviously he did a great job tonight, as well, getting the win.”
Tomas Yachmenev’s 26th goal of the season midway through the second period provided the Voodoos with a little insurance.
Neither side was able to find the back of the net in the third period, with the Rock outshooting the Voodoos 12-5 in the frame.
Voodoos goalie Owen Say went the distance in net, stopping 37 of the 38 shots the Rock directed his way, to pick up his 28th win of the season.
Masternak, who turned aside seven of the nine shots he faced in his one period of work, was tagged with the loss. Meyer blocked 17 of the 18 shots directed his way in his 40 minutes of work.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the Saturday night’s game were Seguin, Smith and Rock blue-liner Eric Moreau (one assist), while Say, Voodoos forward Parker Bowman (three assists) and Yachmenev were honoured Friday night … The Rock did not dress forwards Riley Robitaille (serving the fourth game of a six-game suspension), forward David Laroche (upper-body injury) and blue-liner Quinn Schneidmiller (upper-body injury) for either game and they were without blue-liner Aidan Milne (lower-body injury) Saturday night … Official attendance at the Noelville Arena Saturday night was 320, while 346 fans were in attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex Friday night … Saturday night’s other action saw the Crunch defeat the Hearst Lumberjacks 5-3 in Cochrane, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners derail the Express 3-1 in Espanola, the Beavers blank the Elliot Lake Wildcats 7-0 in Blind River and the Rayside-Balfour Canadians dump the Thunderbirds 7-1 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they host the Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.
Game Photos courtesy of Dal Photography