Rock roll over Crunch

Timmins Rock forward Tyler Gilberds, left, hugs teammate Riley Brousseau while celebrating his first-period goal during Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Brousseau’s 12th goal of the season gave the Rock a 7-1 lead over the Cochrane Crunch in a game they would go on to win 10-4, sweeping both halves of their home-and-home series. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

The Timmins Rock exploded for seven first period goals and then cruised to a 10-4 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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The Daily Press – GALLERY: Rock complete sweep

It was the conclusion of a two-game weekend series that saw the Rock dump the Crunch 7-1 at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane Friday night.

With the victory, the Rock (22-4-1-1) strengthened their hold on top spot in the NOJHL’s overall and East Division standings, moving three points ahead of the idle Powassan Voodoos (19-6-4-1) and still hold two games in hand.

Sunday’s contest saw the debut of the Rock’s new gold third jerseys, similar in design to those worn by the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Seventeen of the 18 Rock skaters dressed for Sunday afternoon’s contest picked up at least a single point.

Nicholas Frederick’s power-play marker, his fourth goal of the season, just 1:01 into the contest touched off the offensive fireworks for the Rock.

Blue-liner Cameron Dutkiewicz, who had a hat-trick Friday night, followed with his 10th goal of the season, eight-and-a-half minutes later, to double the lead.

Just over a minute later, Liam Wells netted the first of his two goals on the afternoon and 10th of the season to increase the Rock lead to 3-0.

The Crunch got that one back 10 seconds later when captain Ethan Ingram scored his eighth goal of the season.

It took Wells just 15 seconds, however, to restore the Rock’s three-goal advantage as he netted his second goal of the game and 11th of the season.

Just over a minute later, Dylan McElhinny scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his third tally of the season to put the Rock up 5-1.

“I just went to the net and saw the puck get rimmed around, got left alone in front and it kind of worked out for me,” he said.

“I’ll take it.”

Playing on a line with Tyler Gilberds and Riley Brousseau, McElhinny also had a pair of assists in the contest.

“I think we supported the puck well and we moved for each other,” he said.

“We did a good job of getting into the open spaces and moving the puck there.

“I like playing with those guys. They are two really good players.”

McElhinny is enjoying his first season in the NOJHL.

“We are one of the top teams in Canada and hopefully we can keep it that way,” he said.

And, in case fans were wondering, the Pittsburgh native is a big fan of the Rock’s new Penguins-like third jerseys.

“I love them,” he said.

“I have a (Sidney) Crosby jersey in my closet at home that’s the same colours, so it was pretty cool to be able to wear it this afternoon.”

For the record, McElhinny wasn’t consulted about the colours or design of the new third jerseys.

“I don’t have much pull here yet, but it is good we have some higher-ups (team president Ted Gooch) who are Penguins fans, too,” he said.

Daniel Beaupre’s fifth goal of the season, just over two minute later, pushed the Rock advantage to five goals.

And, with less than three minutes remaining in the period, Brousseau added his 12th goal of the season to put the Rock in front 7-1 heading to the dressing room for the first intermission.

The Crunch opted to pull starting goalie Ben DiGiallonardo to start the second period, with Michael Nickolau coming on in relief.

And the moved appeared to pay off, if only briefly, as Alex Dionne scored his first goal of the season 26 seconds into the frame to cut the Cochrane deficit to five goals.

Blue-liner Riley Dubois scored his third goal of the season, just over two minutes later, however, to increase the Rock lead to 8-2.

The teams continued to exchange goals when Collin Lapointe notched a power-play marker, his second tally of the season.

The Rock responded, with Tyler Patterson adding a power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season, to make it a 9-3 hockey game.

Liam Boswell’s 11th goal of the season pulled the Crunch back to within five goals before the end of the frame.

After combining for 13 goals in the first two periods, there was just the one marker in the third period, with Rock captain Tyler Schwindt notching his 20th tally of the season with five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the contest to make the final 10-4.

Rock assistant coach James Daschuk was happy to see his squad pick up four of a possible four points on the weekend, but admitted they might not have been as sharp as the scores in the two games might suggest.

“I guess the scores were impressive, more so than our play the last couple of games,” he said.

“There were some very good moments, absolutely, but we didn’t play perfect hockey games.

“People see the scores and probably think we played our two best games of the season, but absolutely not.

“As a coaching staff, you want perfection and you kind of get upset about mistakes we are making.

“There were certainly some mistakes we would like to have back.

“Friday night, good think (Rock goalie) Gavin (McCarthy) was there. He really played a great game. We gave up a lot of chances.

“Even today, we gave up 31 shots and I think that’s close to a season high for us, certainly not something we are proud of, for sure.”

Offensively, the Rock were getting solid contributions Sunday from all their lines.

“Offence hasn’t really been a struggle for us this year,” Daschuk said.

“If our No. 1 line is not going, we usually get offence from our No. 2 line or our No. 3 line.

“From the beginning of the season, our strong point has been our depth.

“Even the guys on our fourth line can put the puck in the net.”

The assistant coach was impressed with what he saw from Frederick Sunday afternoon.

“He had a goal and three assists and it was all hard work,” Daschuk said.

“That guy’s motto is ‘work hard’ and that’s what you get from that guy every single day.

“Everything he gets on the scoresheet, he earns it.

“When your other lines are scoring you don’t have to depend on one line every game.

“It eases the pressure from guys like Schwinny (Schwindt) and the big line. (Nicolas) Pigeon (lower-body injury) wasn’t there and even our second line with Broussy (Brousseau) and Gibby (Gilberds) it takes a bit of pressure off those guys.

“They don’t have to be 100 per cent every single night.”

With four goals in the two games, Wells impressed his assistant coach, as well.

“He is a spark plug out there,” Daschuk said.

Christopher Engelbert, who picked up four assists in the two weekend games, also drew the assistant coach’s attention.

“His game never changes, it doesn’t matter what the score is,” Daschuk said.

“Up by five goals or down by five goals, his game is just so consistent. He is so important to this team.”

Dutkiewicz also earned a little extra praise, especially for his effort Friday night.

“It is good to have a contribution from our defencemen and I think they have all been good at it all season,” Daschuk said.

Beaupre left Sunday afternoon’s contest in the second period and did not return.

“There was some blood on the ice,” Daschuk said.

“He had a cut on his nose.”

McCarthy stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his NOJHL-leading 17th win of the season.

DiGiallonardo, who turned aside 10 of the 17 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

Nickolau blocked 32 of the 35 shots he faced in his two periods of relief.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game Sunday were Wells, Frederick and McElhinny, while Dutkiewicz, Engelbert (three assists) and Schwindt were honoured Friday night … The Rock have traded forward Eric Barnard (15, 3-2-5, 0) to the Espanola Express in exchange for a player development fee … The Rock went 2-5 on the power play Sunday, while the Crunch were 1-4 with the man advantage. Friday night, the Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Crunch were 1-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday was 611 … Sunday’s other action saw the Gold Miners edge the Hearst Lumberjacks 5-4 in overtime in Kirkland Lake and the Thunderbirds dump the Espanola Express 7-2 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Powassan for a game against the Voodoos. The next home game will be on Sunday when they host the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 3 p.m.