THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock forward Joshua Kego attempts to get off a pass after being taken down by French River Rapids Ryan Smith during the first period of Sunday afternoons NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena….
Captain Derek Seguin netted a pair of third-period power-play goals to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 4-1 win over the French River Rapids Sunday afternoon at the McIntyre Arena.
The Rock dominated the first period, outshooting the visitors — who were playing their third game in two-and-a-half nights — 14-1, but they had to settled for a 0-0 tie after the opening 20 minutes of play.
“We were hungry and we wanted to build off that game (a 2-1 Rock victory) in Cochrane Friday night,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.
“We came out with a good game plan in the first period. I looked up at one point and I think the shots were 14-1.
“It was pretty impressive from our group. It was a dialled in effort from top to bottom.”
It was the Rapids who finally got on the scoreboard early in the second period, when Marc-Andre Quevillon potted his third goal of the season on a shot that Rock goalie Tyler Masternak appeared to have until the puck bounced up and over him.
After working so hard without any reward in the first period, it would have been easy for the Rock to let their frustration get the better of them after falling behind, but they stayed patient and stuck to the game plan.
“We knew we had some Grade A chances in the first period, but we were a little unlucky,” Beer said.
“The puck would hit a stick, the goalie would make a good save, or whatever, but we certainly didn’t stress ourselves out.
“From a confidence standpoint, we were good. We were solid. I love the resiliency our guys showed by battling back.”
The Rock were able to get back on even terms before the end of the frame, however, when Mahingan Decontie scored his first NOJHL goal at the 12:29 mark.
The two East Division rivals headed into the third period deadlocked at 1-1, but the Rock got what would prove to be the game-winning goal early in the third period when Maxime Charbonneau notched his third of the campaign.
Just over three minutes later, Seguin struck for the first of his two power-play markers, his sixth goal of the season.
And he completed the scoring 11 minutes later when he added his second power-play marker of the night, his seven goal of the season to close out the scoring and make the final 4-1 in favour of the Rock.
The combination of Seguin, Riley Robitaille and Keegan McMullen continued to click for the Rock.
“I don’t think there is any one thing in particular,” Seguin said, when asked who has led to the effectiveness of the trio.
“Riley and I have been paired together, but whomever seems to come in on the other side seems to step up and play well with us. I don’t think it is any kind of magic potion. It is just hard work. We are starting to get to know each other and things are starting to click.”
Seguin feels the Rock are just beginning to reach their potential.
“Everyone is starting to buy into our system, so we are all kind of clicking no matter who we are playing with,” he said.
“I think that has led to our recent success.”
Seguin probably had as many quality scoring opportunities in the first and second period as he did in the third, but he remained confident.
“Sometimes the bounces just don’t go your way,” he said.
“We were outplaying them and we were playing hard down low. We were getting our opportunities, but it took us until the third period to start capitalizing.”
Beer was pleased with the effort put forth by all of his forward in the contest, but a couple of newcomers caught his eye.
“Capy (Matt Capisciolto) and Bolly (Eamon Bollinger) were so good out there,” he said.
“They are big bodies and the really know what they are doing out there. They are very talented. Sometimes you get big guys and they don’t have hands, but both of them have good hands and good shots.
“They have been key additions for us and they have played in every situation. They got some power-play time, they were on the penalty kill and they took key face-offs.
“They have adjusted really well after coming in during the last week and a half.”
Beer was also pleased to see Decontie finally find the back of the net Sunday afternoon.
“You never want to put a premium of points, or goals, but for a young guy like him to be buying in the way he has and playing as hard as he has the last little bit, but it was huge confidence boost for him to get that goal,” he said.
“It is a good reward for a lot of his hard work.”
Beer agreed the only goal that got past Masternak in the contest was one of the stranger ones he has seen.
“It was a tough one,” he said.
“I am sure he thought he had it. It was just kind of a weird one off the glove.
“Masty has really settled himself in there the last couple of games and he has been playing a lot better, which is huge for us.”
The blue-line corps playing in front of Masternak was solid in the contest, as well.
“I thought we really did a great job of getting pucks to the second level of the neutral zone,” Beer said.
“There were no small, short passes that were going to get broken up. It was stuff in behind their forecheck and in behind their D.
“For our defencemen, the faster we can build stuff in the neutral zone, the better we can get into the offensive zone and make plays from there.
“Our guys did a good job of getting the puck into the forwards’ hands early and often.”
One of the keys to Sunday afternoon’s victory for the Rock was they kept their cool even when the physicality ramped up in the third period.
“We preach team discipline all the time and I thought our team was extremely classy tonight,” Beer said.
“Our players are becoming better Junior ‘A’ players all the time. They are really learning about maturity and what it takes to stay focused. I think that is a big contributing factor to why we are playing better hockey.”
Considering his team was finishing up a tough road trip that also saw them drop a 4-2 decision to the Lumberjacks in Hearst Friday night and suffer a 3-1 setback against the Crunch in Cochrane Saturday night, Rapids coach Shawn Frappier wasn’t too upset with the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s contest.
“You know what? The effort was there,” he said.
“We played with some grit. I don’t consider today a loss. We did a lot of good things.”
The coach acknowledged goalie Kevin Donaghey kept the Rapids in the contest.
“He made a couple of key saves in the first, second and third periods,” Frappier said.
“He gave us an opportunity.”
In addition to his goaltender, Frappier was pleased with the effort put forth by a number of other Rapids in the contest.
“(Connon) Loft played a great game and (Chris) Pedersen played a hard-nosed game today,” he said.
“Even some of our young guys played really hard. I am happy with that effort.”
The Rapids used their size to great effectiveness Sunday afternoon.
“If guys want to play at the next level, they have to play with some sandpaper,” Frappier said.
“That’s the difference between guys playing here or at the next level. Can they play a 200-foot game and can they do the things the next guy doesn’t want to do? They started doing that today.”
Masternak blocked 14 of the 15 shots he faced for the Rock and picked up his third win of the season.
Donaghey, who turned aside 42 of the 46 shots the Rock fired his way, was tagged with the loss for the Rapids.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Seguin, Donaghey and Capisciolto … Rock forward Joshua Kego and Rapids forward Alex Paul were tossed from the contest late in the second period after they each received five-minute majors for fighting and game misconducts. Robitaille and Rapids blue-liner Griffin Simpson were also sent off early in the third period after also being assessed five-minute majors and game misconducts for their fight … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 648 … Sunday’s only other contest saw the Lumberjacks hang on to edge the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-3 in Hearst … The Rock will return to action when the host the Gold Miners at the McIntyer Arena Wednesday night. Game time is set for 7 p.m.