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GALLERY: Rock safely negotiate Rapids

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Red-hot goalie Tyler Masternak made 61 saves — of did he? — to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 4-1 win over the Rapids in French River. Regardless of how many shots he did — or did not — face, Masternak earned his NOJHL-leading 16th victory, while lowering his NOJHL-best goals against average to 1.95. And if that’s not impressive enough, the previous night he recorded his NOJHL single-season record sixth shutout as the Rock blanked the Voodoos 3-0 in Powassan.


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RENCH RIVER — One night after recording an NOJHL-record sixth shutout in a season, Tyler Masternak was officially credited with making 61 saves to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 4-1 win over the Rapids at the Noelville Arena Saturday night.

Fresh off a 26-save performance during Friday night’s 3-0 win over the Voodoos in Powassan, Masternak was once again at the top of his game in French River Saturday night.

While Rock coach Corey Beer chuckled at the suggestion his squad was outshot 62-57 in the contest, noting their stats showed they outshot the home side 27-23, he was no less impressed with Masternak’s stellar work on the weekend.

“Our goaltender is phenomenal,” he said.

“He made key saves for us again and gave us every chance to win. His game is off the charts right now.

“His confidence level is high and he does everything for us back there.

“He is becoming more of a leader in the dressing room and holding guys accountable.”

Masternak posted his NOJHL-leading 16th win of the season Saturday night and improved his NOJHL-leading goals against average to 1.95, while also boosting his saves percentage to .926 — fourth best in the NOJHL.

“We couldn’t be more thrill for Tyler with the way he is going right now,” Beer said.

“He didn’t get an invite to the Eastern Canada Cup Challenge, but he didn’t take a woe-is-me type of attitude. He almost used it as a ‘hey I will show you’ kind of motivational tool and he has been incredible.

The Rock jumped out to a 1-0 lead in Saturday night’s contest thanks to defenceman Cason Burlington’s first goal of the season, an unassisted marker, at the 4:07 mark of the opening period.

Mahingan Decontie’s fourth goal of the season increased the Timmins advantage to a pair of goals with just over six minutes remaining in the frame.

Captain Derek Seguin potted his NOJHL-leading 18th goal of the season two-and-a-half minutes into the second period to make it a 3-0 hockey game.

The Rapids finally got on the scoreboard just past the midway point of the third period when Levi Siau struck for a power-play marker, his 12th goal of the season.

That goal ended a stretch of 142 minutes and 47 seconds of shutout goaltending by Masternak that spanned four hockey games.

Any thoughts the Rapids might have of riding the momentum from that tally into a full-fledged rally were dashed seven-and-a-half minutes later when Matt Capisciolto netted his eighth goal of the season to close out the scoring and make the final 4-1 in favour of the Rock.

Even though the Rock secured a three-goal victory Saturday night the coach felt they were not quite as sharp as they were during Friday night’s victory over the Voodoos.

“Tonight was maybe not our best game, but when it comes down to it good teams find ways to win,” Beer said.

“We got some contributions from guys up and down our lineup this weekend. We got secondary scoring and it was great.”

The coach was pleased with the contributions of a number of his Rock skaters Saturday night.

“On the back end, Carson Burlington had a great game,” Beer said.

“Luka Bolduc was kind of an unsung hero, as well. He gave us some great minutes.

“Up front, Gage Tremblay was really good both nights. Matt Capisciolto jumped in with a goal and I really liked the games of Linden Spencer, A.J. Campbell and Tyler Hutchinson over the weekend.

“These are guys who played more minutes than they are used to playing for us. I thought they did a phenomenal job of playing good defensive zone shifts and they chipped in with a little offence here and there, as well.”

The last time the Rock made a weekend swing through Powassan and French River — two weeks ago — they suffered back-to-back losses and the coach feels that help motivate his troops this time around.

“We definitely had better focus from our group this weekend,” Beer said.

“Every game on our side (the East Division) is so tough. Going down there last time, maybe our focus wasn’t where it needed to be, but our guys wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case again this weekend.”

On paper, the contest against the Rapids might have seemed like a mismatch, but prior to the game French River had five wins and an overtime loss in its previous six starts.

“They are playing some tremendous hockey right now,” Beer said.

“They are full of confidence and they are playing at a high level. They constantly gave us problems with the rush tonight.

“That’s a very good hockey team and certainly (coach) Paul (Frustaglio) has done a great job of getting them going.

“You can’t underestimate them, because their record (9-16-2-1) is not indicative of how they are playing right now.”

One of the keys for the Rock was their ability to adapt to a different style against the Rapids Saturday night.

“Our guys were able to play two different game plans in two nights,” Beer said.

“We played a little bit more wide open transition style against Powassan Friday night, while tonight was a little bit more chip and chase and grind.

“That is a sign of a good hockey team when you are able to win in different ways.

“So, for our guys it was a great weekend and we are happy to come home with the four points.”

Saturday’s victory allowed the Rock (18-9-1-0) to pull into a tie with the Gold Miners (18-8-1-0) atop the NOJHL’s overall standings — although Kirkland Lake has a game in hand.

Depending on who you believe, Masternak either stopped 61 of the 62 shots the Rapids fired his way or 22 of the 23 shots he faced, while picking up his 16th win of the season.

Rapids goalie Marshall Frappier either blocked 53 of the 57 shots the Rock directed at him or 23 of the 27 shots he faced while being tagged with the loss.

ROCK 3 VOODOOS 0

Masternak posted his NOJHL-leading sixth shutout of the season as the Rock blanked the Voodoos 3-0 at the Powassan Sportsplex Friday night.

In addition to holding the NOJHL single-season record for shutouts, Masternak’s eight shutouts (counting two recorded in 2017-18) are a franchise career best.

The red-hot goalie got all of the offensive support he would need at the 2:23 mark of the opening period when Campbell scored his fourth goal of the season.

The Rock were able to double their lead midway through the second period when the suddenly red-hot Bolduc struck for his fourth goal on the season with the visitors on the power play.

Then, five-and-a-half minutes into the third period blue-liner Josh Anderson netted his fourth goal of the season to close out the scoring and make the final 3-0 in favour of the Rock.

The Rock completely dominated the final frame, as they outshot the Voodoos 15-1.

In addition to posting his sixth shutout of the season, Masternak, who stopped all 26 shots he faced, earned his 15th win of the campaign.

Voodoos goalie Joe Vrbetic, who turned aside 42 of the 45 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of Saturday night’s contest were Masternak, Siau and Seguin … The Rock did not dress forwards Josh Dickson (upper-body injury), Eamon Bollinger (upper-body injury) and Riley Robitaille (serving the seventh game of his seven-game suspension … The Rock were 0-6 on the power play, while the Rapids were 1-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Noelville Arena was 431 … Saturday night’s other action saw the Wildcats upset the Gold Miners 5-2 in Elliot Lake and the Beavers get past the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 4-1 in Blind River … The Rock will travel to Kirkland Lake for a game with the Gold Miners Thursday night before returning home to host the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

Photos courtesy of  Dal Photography