VIDEO / GALLERY: Rock roll over Gold Miners, inch closer to locking up top spot

Timmins Rock forward Jack Kelly watches as his shot sails up and over the shoulder of Gold Miners goalie Stephen Amaro but wide of the post during the second period of Tuesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Kelly had a goal and two assists in the game, as the Rock went on to dump the Gold Miners 8-1 — their 41st-straight victory over Kirkland Lake, dating back to Nov. 29, 2018. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD, apsmc

The Timmins Rock took another step toward securing top spot in the NOJHL’s East Division standings Tuesday night, handing the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners an 8-1 setback at the McIntyre Arena.

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS, Ont. – With the win, the Rock (36-14-2-0) increased their lead to 11 points on the Voodoos (30-17-1-2) and 13 points on the Lumberjacks (28-15-3-2) — although Powassan has two games in hand and Hearst four.

Oh yeah, and it marked the 41st-straight victory for the Rock over the Gold Miners, dating back to Nov. 29, 2018.

Early on, the Gold Miners made a game of it at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night, trailing just 1-0 until late in the opening period.

Jaden Lyons’ seventh goal of the season had staked the Rock to that advantage and it looked like the Gold Miners would escape the frame trailing by just that margin.

However, Brant Romaniuk added a power-play marker, his 16th tally of the campaign, with just 2.54 seconds remaining on the clock.

The flood gates opened in the second period, with the Rock netting four-straight goals to take command of the contest.

Jack Kelly got things going when he scored a power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season, eight minutes into the frame.

Kaeden McArthur, playing his first game since Jan. 19, then added his 18th marker of the campaign just past the midway point in the period.

Just under two minutes later, Nolan Ring chipped in with his 15th goal of the season.

Mason Svarich then struck for a power-play marker, his 32nd goal of the season, to make it a 6-0 hockey game.

The Gold Miners finally got on the scoreboard with nine seconds remaining in the frame, thanks to Noah Woodard’s power-play marker, his 21st goal of the season.

The Rock kept rolling when the puck dropped to start the third period, as Harry Clark scored his team-leading 34th goal of the season 40 seconds into the frame.

Jack Anderson then wrapped up the offensive outburst, netting his 10th goal of the campaign.

McArthur’s return to the Rock lineup Tuesday night was a little more challenging because the forward was pressed into duty on the team’s blue-line, but he downplayed the position switch after the contest.

“It was kind of comfortable for me to come back and play D because I played some D before I was out of the lineup,” he said.

“I made a few mistakes here and there but it is probably something I can learn from back there. I just have to work on it and try not to make those same mistakes next time.”

The Timmins product, who had a goal and an assist in the game, is averaging close to a point per game in his first full season in a Rock uniform after being acquired from the Blind River Beavers partway through the 2022-23 campaign.

“I got the puck at the point after Sam (Jossinet) passed it over to me and I walked in and shot it low and it happened to hit the back of the net,” McArthur said, describing his goal.

“I think there was a bit of a screen in front of the net, a big body like Ryno (Hayden Rynard), so I don’t think the goalie saw it the whole way.”

McArthur hasn’t really played defence on a regular basis since he was back in Novice or Atom, although he did fill in when necessary while he was played Midget ‘AAA’ (now U18) with the Timmins Majors.

“Knowing where to be, at the right time, is the biggest challenge,” he said.

“I am going to have to go over some video with Dazzer (Rock assistant coach James Daschuk) and see where I need to be out there. He tells me where I need to be and I try to fix it next shift.”

One of the reasons the Rock needed McArthur on the blue-line Tuesday night is captain Felix Cadieux-Fredette was out of the lineup.

Given the rash of injuries the Rock have had on the back end this season, fans can breathe a sigh of relief after coach and general manager Brandon Perry said, “Illness. We might just keep him out on Friday, as well. We have two or three guys who are just super sick right now.”

The one-sided final score aside, the coach was not impressed with how his team started Tuesday night’s contest.

“Our first period wasn’t great and I didn’t like our power play tonight,” Perry said.

“It was a little out of sync and so sloppy. I thought we were trying to be too cute, trying to do too much individual stuff, instead of just snapping the puck around and doing what has worked so well for us all season.

“It just shows you the value of a guy like Felix Cadieux-Fredette out there.”

The coach was happy McArthur was able to fill in so well for the captain.

“It sucks because he was out so long and then he comes back and has to go out there on D, play a position he is not really used to, but he did a fantastic job, looked awesome back there,” Perry said.

The continued strong play of 16-year-old Romaniuk also caught the coach’s eye Tuesday night.

“He is a special talent and that’s why he is here at such a young age,” Perry said.

“That’s why we trust him to play up there with the big boys. He works extremely hard and he has been great all year, takes a lot of pride in his game.”

Blue-liner Tenzin Nyman, a player who usually doesn’t get a lot of attention, excelled on both sides of the puck for the Rock Tuesday night.

“I was talking to Dazzer today and pointing out how a guy like T doesn’t get much credit given how good he has been for us all season long,” Perry said.

“The jump he has made from last year to this year has been amazing. He is the ultimate pro and he is so valuable to this team. He does it at both ends of the ice, quarterbacks the power play and plays big shutdown minutes for us.”

Like Romaniuk, Rock goalie Dryden Riley is just 16 years old and has made a solid contribution to the defending NOJHL champions this season.

“He was sharp tonight, games like this are not easy,” Perry said.

“You go 15 minutes or so without a shot, or whatever, and then you get a really good one. He made a really good save in the third period.

“He is as good as they come for a 16-year-old goaltender.”

Riley also contributed to the Rock offence, picking up his third assist of the season Tuesday night.

As one might expect, there was no shortage of Rock players who impressed their coach in the contest.

“Jack Anderson and Jack Kelly were really good tonight,” Perry said.

“I thought Jaden Lyons played a good game, I thought our whole team, after that first period was solid, Ethan Albert, on the back end, was unbelievable.”

Riley stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced to earn his 18th win of the season.

Gold Miners goalie Stephen Amaro, who turned aside 44 of the 52 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Romaniuk, McArthur and Nyman … The Rock went 3-9 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 1-2 with the man advantage … Rock blue-liner Elijah Pool and Gold Miners forward Jamie Collins were ejected from the game late in the second period after they were each assessed five-minute fighting majors and game misconducts … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 828 … Tuesday night’s only other contest saw the Soo Eagles soar over the Elliot Lake Vikings 9-2 in Massey … The Rock will host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.

“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel