By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
IROQUOIS FALLS – The Timmins Rock exploded for six third-period goals en route to a 7-2 win over the Eskis at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
One night after giving up six unanswered second-period goals to the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake, the Rock put up an unanswered six spot of their own in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit and produce their fifth victory in six tries against the Eskis.
“Obviously, when you come off a game where you give up eight goals, you want to get back to the basics, have five guys back in your zone and coming out as a unit,” said Rock assistant coach Eric Paquette.
“In the first period, we gave up a couple of power-play goals, but other than that we were alright.
“It (the momentum shift) started out in the second period. We sent our third line out there and they got our momentum going. Then we just built from that shift and got better and better and there was no looking back from there.
“We came out in the third period and got a quick goal and things rolled from there.”
The Eskis actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period of Saturday night’s contest thanks to a pair of power-play goals.
Jacob Erwin beat Rock goalie Logan Ferrington for his 11thgoal of the season just 2:04 into the opening frame.
Brett Ouderkirk added his 11th goal of the season 10 minutes later to send the home side into the first intermission with a two-goal advantage.
Despite being down a pair of goals, the Rock didn’t panic and continued to play a patient, defence-first game in the second period, as well, and Tristan Salesse beat Eskis goalie Joe Sheppard midway through the frame to cut the home side’s lead to 2-1.
That’s the way the score remained until the start of the third period.
It took the Rock just 1:39 to tie things up, as Jordan Rendle netted the first of his two goals on the night and 14th of the season.
Bain Cunningham scored his 10th goal of the season a minute later on the power-play to put the Rock in front 3-2.
Ryan Theriault added his 13th goal of the season, a power-play marker, three-and-a-half minutes later to extend the Rock advantage to two goals.
Salesse’s second goal of the game and 17th of the season upped the Rock lead to 5-2 just under three minutes later.
Wayne Mathieu, elevated to the Rock’s No. 1line for Saturday night’s game, then scored his fourth goal of the season to make it a 6-2 hockey game.
“Wayne is one of our hardest workers and when you suffer a loss like we did the other night, it’s always good to shake things up a little bit and it worked out tonight,” Paquette said.
Mathieu enjoyed the chance to play on the line with Salesse and Theriault.
“I just felt I needed to step up my game a little bit, play the same way I could, but just harder,” he said.
“I know they would be looking for me out there and I was looking for them all the time, too.
“Tonight the bounces were going my way and I got lucky and was able to put one away.”
Mathieu also earned an assist as the line accounted for four of the Rock’s three goals.
The coaching staff didn’t any special advice for Mathieu prior to the game.
“It was just all program, program, program,” he said.
In the wake of Friday night’s tough loss and the 2-0 first-period hole the Rock players found themselves in, the team’s confidence did not waiver according to Mathieu.
“We just wanted to get out there and start playing our game,” he said.
“After we got the first goal all the guys were pumped and excited. Things started going our way.”
Rendle’s power-play marker, his 15th goal of the season, with just over two minutes remaining on the clock closed out the scoring and made the final score 7-2 in favour of the Rock.
Paquette was pleased with the play of a number of Rock players Saturday night.
“Obviously, (Joe) Olson on the back end back there on the power play had a couple of applies (assists). He played well tonight and obviously Salesse gives us an effort every night. Rendle got a couple of goals and he is the one who got us going.
“All around, it was a really solid team effort. When we play the way we did tonight, we are a good hockey team.”
Paquette was also pleased to see Ferrington play a strong game and get some of his confidence back.
“Loggy is a great goalie and the boys were letting him see the puck today,” he said.
Eskis assistant coach Jamy Bernier was naturally frustrated by his team’s third-period collapse.
“Our focus was not there in the third period and it proved costly again,” he said.
“We came out strong tonight and stuck to the game plan through most of the first 40 minutes. I thought we played one of our best periods in the first period. The second period, we took a bad bounce on a penalty kill … an unfortunate goal, but we kept it 2-1. We killed some big penalties at the end of the second period and then in the third period we just weren’t the same hockey team.
“We had a 2-1 lead going into the third period and we lost momentum over a couple of bad penalties. That was basically it. Our penalties in the third period cost us. I don’t think that’s what lost us the game, but that’s what made us deviate from our game plan. We lost momentum and it was gone from there.”
The Eskis clearly looked like the better team in the first period and for much of the second.
“Our defensive zone coverage was phenomenal during the first 40 minutes,” Bernier said.
“Our forecheck in their zone was winning us those battles. We dominated them physically and then we deviated from that in the third period again because we had to kill the penalties.”
Despite the loss, a number of Eskis caught the assistant coach’s eye Saturday night.
“Joe Sheppard gave us a chance to win again tonight,” Bernier said.
“He stood on his head for the first 40 and he made some big saves at the end of the second period as we killed off those penalties.
“Also, Kevin Lanoix played a great, solid defensive game through the first 40 minutes of the game. He killed some big penalties and I think he picked up a helper on our first or second power-play goals. He did some great things out there.”
Ferrington made 42 saves to earn the victory for the Rock, while Sheppard turned aside 44 of the 51 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — Newly signed forward Alexandre Brisson played his first game with the Rock Saturday night, wearing No. 18 … Andrew Castagna, of the Rock, and Joey Biers, of the Eskis, were ejected from the game after the pair of No. 4s got into a third-period fight … The Rock went 3-9 on the power play, while the Eskis were 2-6 with the man advantage … official attendance at the Jus Jordan Arena was 484 … Saturday night’s other NOJHL action saw the Cochrane Crunch thump the Beavers 14-1 in Blind River, the Canadians dump the French River Rapids 7-2 in Rayside-Balfour, the Voodoos dump the Espanola Express 9-2 in Powassan and the Soo Thunderbirds blank the Eagles 4-0 in Sault, Mich. … The Rock will travel to Cochrane to take on the Crunch Thursday night and then return home to host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.