Timmins Rock forward Austin Petrie accelerates through the neutral zone while being shadowed by Rayside-Balfour Canadians defenceman Zachary Snow during the first period of Friday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Petrie scored his first goal in a Timmins uniform and it proved to be the game-winner, as the Rock skated to a 3-1 victory. The Rock will travel to Kirkland Lake on Saturday to take on the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Austin Petrie’s first goal in a Timmins Rock uniform proved to be the game winner as the home side scored a 3-1 victory over the visiting Rayside-Balfour Canadians Friday night at the McIntyre Arena.
Scored just 38 seconds after the puck dropped on the start of the second period, at the time Petrie’s goal put the Rock in front 2-0.
Rock coach Corey Beer was a lot happier with his team’s effort Friday night than he had been following a 3-1 setback against the Lumberjacks in Hearst Wednesday night.
“We played good defence tonight,” he said.
“We had guys stopping on pucks. We finished our checks and we boxed out in front of our net. That was a priority for us and our defencemen were incredible at that.
“Obviously, when you get the kind of goaltending performance we got from Brendan Bishop, it goes miles for you and I liked our forwards’ attention to detail on defensive plays.”
After two-straight solid performances in the Rock goal, Beer is confident Bishop is back to the top of his game.
“It was just a matter of him getting some time in there and doing the things he needed to do,” he said.
“He has been working very hard in practice and being a good teammate. It was great to see him play well tonight.”
Defenceman Jared Hester’s second goal of the season scored at the 41 second mark of the opening frame had staked the Rock to a 1-0 first-period lead.
The 1997-birth-year blue-liner also earned assists on the other two Rock goals.
“He was absolutely tremendous for us out there tonight,” Beer said.
“He quarterbacks the power play for us as good as anyone I have seen. His ability and his instinct to ready the transition game, put pucks in the right areas and not force them, makes him as good as it gets on the offensive side of the game.
“He was partnered again with Connor Losen back there and those two were magic again tonight. You get that kind of offence from the back end and it is always going to help.”
Losen is a converted forward who was pressed into service four games ago because of injuries and suspensions and it does not look like he will be moving back to his normal position anytime soon.
“It would be a very wise choice for that young man to appreciate the job he has done and embrace that change,” Beer said.
“He has been incredible on the back end and he has done some very special things for us. He gets the puck out of our end very clean every time.”
Beer was happy to see Petrie net his first goal in a Rock uniform, but was pleased with other parts of his game, as well.
“I thought he was very good defensively tonight, as well,” he said.
“On the offensive side of the puck, he was committed to chipping pucks in and winning battles on the forecheck. The offence comes to guys like him, who have the talent.
“He did the little things before that point, making sure he was supporting his teammates on the forecheck, blocking shots, etc. I was very impressed with his game tonight.”
It was Petrie’s fourth game in a Rock uniform, while fellow newcomer forward Kevin Kutasi made his debut.
“Kevin is a hard-working kid,” Beer said.
“He has got some skill, but he is going to earn his keep being a good forechecker and keeping opposing teams honest.
“He plays a bit of a bruising game. That’s the way he likes to play and it is never a bad thing when you can add a player like that to the lineup.”
The Rock acquired Kutasi (17, 6-1-7, 10), who stands 5-11 and weighs in at 181 pounds, from the Surrey Knights, of the PIJHL, in exchange for a player development fee.
The Canadians finally got on the board four-and-a-half minutes after Petrie had expanded the home side’s advantage to a pair of goals when James White beat Bishop for his fifth goal of the season.
Stewart Parnell provided the Rock with a little insurance at the 14:21 mark of the third period when he netted a power-play marker, his third goal of the season.
Had the Rock been able to capitalize on more of their power-play opportunities Friday night, the final score might not have been so close.
“We got the insurance tally late and I was very happy with the execution on that play,” Beer said.
“The power play can be a tricky thing some times. Some of the best teams, that have great power plays, can run into good penalty kill team and it gets negated.
“It is something we will keep working on, but we are confident with the group we have.”
The Rock were again solid on the penalty kill Friday night, with the forwards and the defencemen doing a solid job of getting into the lanes and blocking shots.
“We did some film study before the game to review our positioning and how we wanted to box out and take away their first, second and third options,” Beer said.
“We wanted to limit them to the low shooting percentage areas and I thought our guys did a great job.
“Whenever you win face-offs on the penalty kill you can get the puck 200 feet down the ice. That was a huge thing for us tonight, being able to bear down on the face-offs.”
Canadians coach Dave Clancy was not happy with his squad’s compete level Friday night.
“I don’t think our players came in prepared to play,” he said.
“Getting ready for the game, they weren’t dressed on time and it showed throughout the game.”
Clearly the Canadians did not execute the game plan the way it was drawn up.
“We are a team that has to cycle the puck down low,” Clancy said.
“We have to get pucks deep and we refused to do that tonight. We thought we could carry pucks in and Timmins took it to us.
“Obviously, we took a few too many penalties tonight and it killed the momentum.”
The Canadians did have some opportunities to get back into the contest.
“We missed two breakaways,” Clancy said.
“Obviously, if we had scored it might have changed the outcome, but we still did not generate much in the way of offence.
“Without our cycle game going, we are not effective.”
Canadians netminder Matty Mayhew was beaten for three goals Friday night, but he also came up with a number of big saves to keep the game close.
“It definitely wasn’t his fault,” Clancy said.
“He played a steady game. We just ask him to keep us in games and we should be able to do the rest.”
The visiting coach was also impressed with the effort put forth by a number of other Canadians Friday night.
“Jacob Partridge comes to work every night,” Clancy said.
“James white put in an honest effort tonight, as well. Other than that, I think we had a lot of passengers.”
Bishop turned aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced to pick up his second win in a Rock uniform.
Mayhew blocked 27 of the 30 shots the Rock fired his way and he was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Bishop, Hester and Alexandre Brisson … The Rock did not dress forwards Tyler Planetta (healthy scratch) and C.J. Bradburn (lower-body injury), as well as defenceman Will Caston (upper-body injury) … The Rock went 1-10 on the power play, while the Canadians were 0-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 768 … Friday night’s other action saw the Wildcats defeat the Cochrane Crunch 5-3 in Elliot Lake and the Gold Mines edge the Blind River Beavers 3-2 in Kirkland Lake … The Rock will return to action Saturday night when they travel to Kirkland Lake for a game against the Gold Miners. The next home game for the Rock will be on Friday, Oct. 20, when they entertain the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntye Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.