Timmins Rock forwards Riley Brousseau, foreground, and Christopher Engelbert celebrate the former’s second goal of the game and 11th of the season during the second period of Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. The Rock completed a stretch of three games in two-and-a-half days by defeating the Powassan Voodoos 7-2 and securing top spot in the NOJHL’s overall and East Division standings. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
The Timmins Rock wrapped up a three games in two-and-a-half days stretch with an impressive 7-2 win over the Powassan Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.
It came on the heels of a 4-0 win over the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake Saturday night and a 4-3 loss to the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.
The victory allowed the Rock (20-4-1-1) to move back into sole possession of top spot in the NOJHL’s overall and East Division standings — one point ahead of the Voodoos (18-5-4-1).
And the Rock still have a pair of games in hand on their East Division rivals.
Even though the Rock only outshot the Voodoos 10-8 in the first period Sunday afternoon, they were able to build a 3-0 lead.
Liam Wells got the puck rolling when he scored his first of two goals on the afternoon and sixth of the season at the 3:24 mark.
“The puck came up to (Riley) Dubois at the point and he shot it and I tipped it off my backhand, low, left side of the net,” he said.
Riley Brousseau then added his first of two goals on the afternoon and 10th of the season eight minutes later.
Eric Barnard’s third goal of the season, with 3:10 remaining in the period, rounded out the scoring in the opening 20 minutes.
It took just 1:10 of the middle frame for the Rock to expand their lead to 4-0, thanks to Christopher Engelbert’s 11th goal of the season.
That goal spelled the end to Voodoos starting goalie Alex Bugeja’s afternoon, with Owen Wray coming on in relief.
It didn’t really matter, however, as Brousseau added his second goal of the afternoon and 11th of the season, a power-play marker, just shy of the midway point to push the lead to 5-0.
A second power-play marker, off the stick of Nicolas Pigeon, his eighth goal of the season expanded the advantage to 6-0 heading into the second intermission.
The Voodoos were finally able to get on the scoreboard at the 6:59 mark of the third period, with Ben White netting his eighth goal of the season.
The Rock got that one back just 14 seconds later, as Wells scored his second goal of the afternoon and seventh of the season.
“I brought the puck into the zone, got it up to Daniel Beaupre and he took a shot on net,” he said.
“It hit (the goalie’s) pad and I dove and knocked it in with my backhand.”
Voodoos blue-liner Ryan O’Dell’s second goal of the season closed out the scoring at the 11:12 mark of the third period, leaving the final 7-2 in favour of the Rock.
Coach and general manager Brandon Perry was pleased with what he saw from his Rock Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, after Friday night’s disappointing loss.
“I am very happy with this win,” he said.
“It was just a matter of effort. That’s all it was, plain and simple.
“Your systems don’t work if you don’t work hard. Your systems look better when you are working hard.
“I think it was just an effort thing Saturday and today.”
Just about every time the Rock have played the Voodoos this season a share of first place has been up for grabs.
“I think it will come down to the last game,” Perry said.
“They have a heck of a hockey team. We just caught them on an off day. Lucky for us, we were able to capitalize on it.
“They have come in here a couple of times on the back end of three (games) in three (nights) and took games from us.”
The coach was impressed by what he saw from Wells Sunday afternoon, and it wasn’t just the offence her provided.
“He brings so much to our lineup in terms of physical play,” Perry said.
“He has got this explosive talent and his speed is deceiving. He pops through holes and shoots out of them. He is a great player and it was nice to see him get rewarded.”
The coach singled out Brousseau for a little extra praise, as well.
“I can’t say enough good things about Riley,” Perry said.
“He is a great kid and what he is doing this year is really special. He is a model of consistency. I think that’s the best way to put it.
“He is a calming presence in our dressing room. I am super happy for all the success he has had so far this season.”
Saturday night in Kirkland Lake, Beaupre earned top marks for his effort.
“He is a talented player, but like a lot of the young guys who make the jump to Junior ‘A’ … it is not easy, you have to work at it every single day,” Perry said.
“He has had good games, he has had mediocre games, like all of our rookies I think it is just a matter of finding out how to be good every single night.
“When he is working hard his talent takes over.”
The coach was also happy to see Konrad Simard record his first NOJHL shutout in Kirkland Lake Saturday night.
“He was really good,” Perry said.
“It is as comfortable as I have seen him in the net all season.”
There was no shortage of other Rock players who caught the coach’s eye Sunday afternoon or Saturday night.
“I thought (blue-liner) Chase Longhurst was phenomenal today,” Perry said.
“(Blue-liner) Bode Dunford, last night, was so good for us on the back end.
“Christopher Engelbert was solid again today, so good without the puck. He is just a hell of a talent and we love having him here.
“Dylan McElhinny has really been coming on. Just like Beaupre and all the other rookies, he has been finding out how to be more consistent. He is a super talented player. It is just a matter of working. The harder you work, the more space you are going to create.
“Pigeon and (captain Tyler) Schwindt were great again this afternoon and great last night.”
Voodoos coach and general manager Marc Lafleur clearly was not happy with the effort he saw from his squad Sunday afternoon.
“Our guys just weren’t mentally ready,” he said.
“I think we were satisfied with coming back last night (scoring twice in the final 2:02 to force overtime before dropping a 5-4 decision to the Lumberjacks in Hearst).
“Our guys didn’t feel like competing the way you have to compete against a team like Timmins.”
Gavin McCarthy, who stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced, earned his 15th win of the season for the Rock.
Bugeja, who turned aside eight of the 12 shots the Rock directed his way before getting the hook was tagged with the loss.
Wray blocked 19 of the 22 shots he faced in his 38:50 of relief.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game on Sunday were Wells, Brousseau and Engelbert, while Beaupre, Rock forward Nicholas Frederick (one assist) and Lyons were honoured Saturday night and Sheffield, Brock and Hughes earned recognition Friday night … The Rock went 2-8 on the power play Sunday afternoon, while the Voodoos were 1-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday was 535 … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they travel to Cochrane for a game against the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre. The two teams will then play the second half of the home-and-home series at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday, at 3 p.m.
VIDEO “Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel