The Timmins Rock are off to a solid start to their 2019-2020 campaign.
After a 4-1 win over the French River Rapids in their season opener on Sept. 6, and more than a week off, they were back on the ice for a pair of home games over the weekend at the McIntyre Arena.
Rock 3, Gold Miners 2 (shootout) – Saturday
In front of 964 fans on Saturday night, the Rock welcomed Kirkland Lake to town where they peppered Gold Miners goaltender Kyle McNair with 50 shots on net. McNair was up to task, robbing the Rock shooters time and time again, keeping his team in the game.
After a scoreless opening frame, Rock captain Derek Seguin sniped his first goal of the season over McNair at the 12:29 mark of the second period. Zachary Smith added a power-play goal just a few minutes later to give the Rock a 2-0 lead heading into the third.
Ironically enough, it would be penalties to both scorers that would give the Gold Miners a chance to get back into the game. Seguin took a cross-checking minor three minutes into the period. Kirkland Lake forward Ryan Hunter buried one past Rock rookie goaltender Vance Meyer to cut the lead in half. Then, around the 13 minute mark of the period, Smith was ejected from the game for a hit from behind. The Gold Miners again made the Rock pay with a Max Newnam power play goal a minute later.
The game headed to a 3-on-3 overtime period where Rock forwards Seguin and Josh Dickson had multiple glorious chances to end it, but thanks to more stellar play from McNair, and a crossbar, nothing was decided.
In the shootout, the Rock elected to shoot first to try and keep the pressure on the Gold Miners. Dickson was denied by McNair. Then, Hunter was stymied by Meyer on his attempt. Seguin stepped up and wired one past McNair to put Timmins in the lead. Former Rock mainstay A.J. Campbell was also stuffed by Meyer, leaving an opportunity for Karter Renouf to end the game. Renouf, who is off to a great start with his new team, looked very poised as he streaked in, slowed, and then fired one through McNair’s pads to seal the victory for the Rock, sending the fans home happy.
After the game, Renouf, who had two assists, was asked what he was thinking on his shootout goal. He said “not much.”
“Score. Honestly I wasn’t really thinking too much. It just happened, it went in, and I’m happy it did,” said Renouf.
Meyer was very solid in his Junior ‘A’ debut, stopping 24 of 26 shots in the contest, as well as both shootout attempts he faced. He said he’s never played in front a crowd that size and was thrilled with the win.
“It was great. Good first experience. A little sketchy at the end there, going into overtime, but it was good after we won. That was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had,” said Meyer.
It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops though, as the Rock would soon find out that Smith and fellow forward Linden Spencer would be suspended indefinitely by the league for their actions on Saturday night.
Voodoos 5, Rock 4 (overtime) – Sunday
There wasn’t much time to reflect on Saturday’s win, as the Rock hosted a very talented Powassan Voodoos squad in a Sunday afternoon matinee. The Voodoos were playing their third game in less than 72 hours after road victories in both Cochrane and Hearst.
The Rock got off to a good start, as Riley Robitaille buried his first goal of the season on the power play just over three minutes into the first.
Despite carrying most of the play, and outshooting the Voodoos 18-9 in the period, the Rock were punished by an awful final three minutes of the period. Powassan scored three times, including two by Timmins product Gabinien Kioki, to stun the crowd and head to the locker room up 3-1.
The Rock outshot the Voodoos 20-9 in the second period, but had nothing to show for it.
Nine minutes into the third, Voodoos captain Parker Bowman scored on the power play to put his team comfortably up 4-1.
But the Rock found another gear, and less than two minutes later former Voodoo Tyler Gilberds buried one from the slot to cut the lead to 4-2.
Powassan’s lack of discipline hurt them late, as costly penalties by Kioki, and defenceman Eric Mondoux, allowed the Rock back in it. Robitaille buried his second of the game with just over three minutes left, followed by a Stewart Parnell tap-in with under two minutes left to play to tie the game at 4.
However, just 43 seconds into the overtime frame, veteran NOJHL sniper Gregory Trudeau-Paquet blazed down the wing and fired a shot past Rock goaltender Tyler Masternak to nab the extra point for the Voodoos. They completed a perfect road trip with the win, and are comfortably in first place in the East Division with a 5-1 record.
The Rock again dominated the shot clock, outshooting the Voodoos 57-31. Voodoos netminder Owen Say continued his hot start to the season with a 53 save performance.
“It was a roller coaster of emotions, that’s for sure,” said Rock head coach Corey Beer of Sunday’s contest.
“Overall, I thought our game was pretty good. It’s a division game, you get a point off them in a game we were trailing 4-1. For us, it’s positive strides. They’re a very veteran laden team with a lot of talent. We had two guys out suspended today, and some injury issues, and for us to keep grinding there, it was pretty impressive on our part.”
Early on in the season, the Rock, like most teams, are still tinkering with their roster. The team added 17-year old defenceman Evan Beaudry just a few days ago, and he was in the lineup for both of this weekend’s games.
“We had actually spoken to Evan last year about coming up to play in Timmins,” explained Rock G.M. Kevin Peever. “Things didn’t work out, and then this year he started with the Smith Falls Bears of the CCHL, and we heard he was going to be available, so we jumped on him. So far, we really like what we see. It looks like he fits in our system real well.”
Thanks to suspension and injury issues, the Rock had to dress 15-year-old affiliate player Bradley Moore of the Timmins Majors at forward for Sunday afternoon’s game against Powassan.
“He certainly held his own. For a kid that age to be able to go out there against one of the league’s best, playing 12 to 14 minutes as a 15 year old, that’s pretty special,” said Beer of Moore’s play.
The team has also sent forward Ryan Twigg for a conditioning stint with the Midland Flyers of the PJCHL.
“Hopefully he can get back into the swing of things, get back up to speed, get in some games. Then hopefully, we can get him back with the Timmins Rock,” said Peever.
Regarding stud defenceman Phil Caron, who signed with the Rock over the summer, but is currently with the Sudbury Wolves, Peever hasn’t received any official word yet, although Caron’s strong play in the preseason, particularly on the power play, will make it very tough for the Wolves to cut him loose.
“We’re all behind him, supporting him. If he makes it, its a win for him and the program. If he comes back, once again its a win for the Timmins Rock, as he’s such a talented defenceman. We know his dream his to play major junior, and we 100 per cent support that,” said Peever.
The Rock’s next game goes Friday night at 7:30 against the Elliott Lake Wildcats at the McIntyre Arena.