By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock rolled over the Iroquois Falls Eskimos 8-1 Wednesday night at the McIntyre Arena.
Newcomer Ryan Theriault and linemate Zachary Kercz each scored a pair of goals and added an assist to pace the attack as the Rock gained a measure of revenge for the 8-6 setback they suffered at the hands of the Eskimos in Iroquois Falls a week earlier.
“It was a good fresh start,” said Theriault.
“I had a lot of support from my linemates out there. Tristan and Zach are both very talented players.
“It felt good to get a couple of goals under my belt.”
In addition to putting two pucks in the net, Theriualt also rattled a shot of a goal post and sailed another just over the crossbar.
“I had a lot of opportunities out there tonight,” he said.
“I had a lot chances from the side of the net, especially early on.”
Theriault is happy with the start to his Timmins Rock career.
“I have been feeling pretty comfortable since I got here,” he said.
“This is a very welcoming team, so it has been an easy transition.”
The third member of the line, Tristan Salesse, added a goal and two assists as the unit accounted for five of the eight Timmins goals.
Rock assistant coach James Daschuk was a lot happier with the squad’s game Wednesday night than he had been the first time they tangled with the Eskimos in Iroquois Falls.
“We talk a lot about playing the system and sticking to our program and the last time we played these guys we had too many individuals and we kind of got overconfident a little bit,” he said.
“Tonight, we came out and it didn’t matter what the score was, we stuck to the game plan for the whole 60 minutes. Every single guy stuck to the program. We didn’t play like individuals tonight.
“I think on the weekend the guys realized the difference between sticking to the program and getting away from it.
“They saw the results we were able to achieve on the weekend and now we are kind of mentally zoned in to stick to our program for the whole game.”
The Rock jumped out to a 4-0 first-period lead on goals by Kercz, Jordan Rendle, Devin Panzeca and Tyler Romain and dominated the opening 20 minutes of play.
“After the first, when we were up 4-0, the message was keep it going,” Daschuk said.
“We didn’t want to lay off or hold back and try to play any kind of trap or anything. We wanted to stick with our game plan and play an aggressive forecheck.
“When we cycle the puck down low, we are tough to beat. We have some big bodies.”
Daschuk was impressed with Theriault’s first game in a Rock uniform.
“Any time you get a new guy in like that who is playing on your top line, it makes every other line stronger, too,” he said.
“He is obviously a great offensive player and we saw that tonight. He had two great shots off the post and in.”
Another big body who made a solid contribution in his first game in a Rock uniform was blue-liner Joe Olson.
“You add a Top 4 defenceman and everything trickles down,” Daschuk said.
“Your Top 6 becomes stronger and your No. 7 becomes stronger.
“Pardon the cliché, but the guy is rock back there. He is a really nice young man and you can tell he has got patience. He is always looking up ice to make the great play, that nice outlet pass.
“And he is a guy who already knows the program, too, which is a huge bonus for us.”
Eskimos coach and assistant general manager Corey Bricknell pulled goalie Dan Davies following the first period, with Josh Horner taking over in the Iroquois Falls net and finishing up the game.
Iroquois Falls finally got on the scoreboard 3:17 into the middle frame when David Osborne beat Rock goalie Logan Ferrington with a power-play marker.
The goal didn’t provide the visitors with any momentum, however, and exactly five minutes later Kercz netted his second goal of the night and fifth on the season to increase the Rock lead to 5-1.
Theriault netted his first goal in a Rock uniform with just under three minutes to play in the second period.
Things went from bad to worse for the Eskimos in the third period, as the Rock added goals from Salesse, on the power-play and Theriault.
Bricknell was not pleased with the effort put forth by the Eskimos Wednesday night, especially in the opening period.
“Our first period was awful,” he said.
“They out-battled us. They were first to the puck. They wanted it in the first period.
“I was happy with the way we played in the second period and then in the third period it was just penalties, for both teams.
“Basically, we lost the first period and that was the game.”
The Eskimos were not as efficient with the man advantage as they were during the game in Iroquois Falls, either.
“When we played them in Iroquois Falls, we had five power-play goals,” Bricknell said.
“Tonight, I think we had one. That was a huge difference, as well. We couldn’t get anything going on the power play.”
The Eskimos were 1-9 on the power-play Wednesday night, while the Rock were 3-7 with the man advantage.
“We basically need to go back to the drawing board,” Bricknell said.
Ferrington made 39 saves while registering the win for the Rock.
Davies, who stopped 14 of the 18 shots he faced in the first period, took the loss for the Eskimos. Horner turned aside 36 of the 40 shots the Rock fired his way.
NOJHL NOTES — Official attendance at Wednesday night’s game was 528 … The Rock were without defenceman Ryan Kerr (upper-body injury), forward Cole Gilligan (upper-body injury) and defenceman Tyler Somers (off-season surgery) … The Eskimos were without forward Dalton Bruce (lower-body injury), defenceman Josh DeJulio (lower-body injury) and defenceman Vasily Gogolev (upper-body injury) … The Rock will next see action Sunday afternoon when they host the Soo Thunderbirds at the McIntyre Arena … The Eskimos will host the Rayside-Balfour Canadians at the Jus Jordan Arena Friday night and the Thunderbirds Saturday night … Wednesday night’s other NOJHL contest saw the Blind River Beavers pick up their second win of the season, 4-3 over the Rapids in French River.