By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
SAULT, MICH. – The Timmins Rock fired 54 shots at Soo Eagles goalie Jack Hickey Saturday night but had to settle for a 1-1 tie.
It was the second contest of a three-game road trip that saw the Rock drop a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie Friday night.
The road trip concluded with a game against the Express in Espanola Sunday, but details of that contest were not available at press time.
“That was our best game of the year, collectively as a team,” said Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne following Saturday night’s 1-1 tie against the Eagles.
“When you allow one goal, that is basically one mistake. The game was awesome because we played perfect hockey the way we implemented our program.
“Everybody was on que. We had no passengers. It was awesome.
“I know we didn’t gain two points, but we gained a whole lot more than just an extra point.”
And it wasn’t just the Rock’s defensive game that was in tip top shape Saturday night, either.
“We took a lot of shots but obviously their goalie made a big difference,” Gagne said.
“He kept them in the game, but we had every opportunity.
“We were playing sound defensively and we were just aggressive. Our forecheck was awesome and everything was great. Everything was perfect.
“An extra point would have been the icing on the cake, but they played great also. They only allowed the one goal against.
“It was a good tight-checking game. There was a lot of hitting going on. There were hardly any two-on-ones or three-on-twos.”
Asked if there were any players in particular who stood out during Saturday night’s contest, Gagne said: “Yes, and the guy’s name is Rock. He was 19 players on the ice. I thought he was excellent.”
After the first two games of the road trip, the Rock may not have anything to show for their effort in the win column but their coach is happy with the way they are playing.
“We may only have one out of a possible four points so far, but I love the way we are playing,” Gagne said.
“We are playing great hockey.”
Some teams might have had difficulty coming back with a solid effort after giving up the game-winning goal to the Thunderbirds with just 15 seconds remaining to play Friday night, but the Rock rebounded well.
“That was so disappointing because we had played so well,” Gagne said.
“We know, however, that it is just a matter of time until we get a luck break.”
Hickey was especially sharp during the second overtime period Saturday night when the Rock outshot the Eagles 10-2.
Rock goalie Logan Ferrington was just as impressive as Hickey, although not quite so busy, as he turned aside 29 of the 30 shots the Eagles fired his way.
Timmins drew first blood, following a scoreless opening frame, as Tristan Salesse beat Hickey with his fourth goal of the season at the 14:14 mark of the second period.
Defenceman Andrew Castagna and pivot Zachary Kercz drew assists on the play.
The Eagles got back on even terms just over two minutes later, as Evan Ketner netted his second goal of the season, on the power play.
That would prove to be the end of the scoring, as Ferrington and Hickey shut the door the rest of the way.
Timmins outshot the Soo 11-4 in the third period and after the two sides exchanged a pair of shots each in the first overtime period things opened up a bit in the second with the Rock swarming Hickey in search of the game-winning goal.
The Eagles goalie was up to the challenge, however, and each side had to settle for a single point.
CRUNCH 6 RAPIDS 2
Elsewhere Saturday night, the Cochrane Crunch tripled the Rapids 6-2 in French River.
Seamus Maguire scored a pair of goals and assisted on another, while Dustin Cordeiro also netted a pair of goals.
Hunter Atchison added a goal and a pair of assists, while Parker Moskal also scored for the visitors.
Caleb Rich and Tyler King replied for the Rapids.
Brett Young made 34 saves to earn the victory for the Crunch, while Chad Mosley turned aside 24 of the 29 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss. Alec St. Georges stopped eight of the nine shots he faced in relief of Mosley.
GOLD MINERS 4 ESKIMOS 0
Meanwhile, Marc Audet stopped all 30 shots he faced as the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners blanked the Eskimos 4-0 in Iroquois Falls Saturday night.
Brayden Stortz’s first-period goal proved to be the game winner, while the Gold Miners also got a pair of goals from Logan Fredericks and one from Kameron Shearer.
Joe Horner started in goal for the Eskimos and stopped two of the four shots the Gold Miners fired his way before getting the hook at the 8:18 mark of the first period. Dan Davies made 31 saves in relief of Horner.
Other NOJHL action Saturday night saw the Powassan Voodoos defeat the Beavers 5-1 in Blind River and the Rayside-Balfour Canadians double the visiting Elliot Lake Wildcats 6-3.
T-BIRDS 4 ROCK 3
Friday night, Matthew Mitchell’s power-play goal with 15 seconds remaining lifted the Thunderbirds to a 4-3 win over the Rock at the Essar Centre.
“We had good goaltending and everybody was on the same page Friday night,” Gagne said.
“We didn’t have any passengers.”
The home side had battled back to tie things up at 3-3 just over two minutes earlier on a Nathan Hebert goal.
Matt Pinder had given the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead when he beat Rock goalie Matt Nixon with his fourth goal of the season early in the first period.
Zach Senecal’s second goal of the season extended the Soo’s advantage to 2-0 midway through the second period of play.
The Rock final got on the scoreboard late in the second period, as Tristan Salesse scored his third goal of the season, a power-play marker to cut the lead to 2-1.
Mike Norris’ third goal of the season, midway through the third period, got the Rock back on even terms.
Captain Kealey Cummings’ first goal of the season, with 4:19 remaining to play in regulation gave the visitors their first lead of the contest, 3-2.
The Rock were unable to complete the upset, however, as Hebert netted his second goal of the season to tie things up and then Mitchell notched his first to provide the home side with its margin of victory.
Thunderbirds goalie Nathan Warren made 25 saves to earn the victory, while Nixon turned aside 41 of the 45 shots the Soo fired his way and was tagged with the loss.
CRUNCH 10 EXPRESS 0
Elsewhere Friday night, Brett Young made 18 saves to earn the shutout as the Cochrane Crunch blanked the Express 10-0 in Espanola.
Hunter Atchison had two goals and four assists for the visitors, while Seamus Maguire had two goals and three assists.
Dustin Cordeiro also scored twice for the Crunch, while Zach Renfrew, Jaren Knorr, Zak Stepaniuk and Parker Moskal each chipped in with a goal.
GOLD MINERS 7 ESKIMOS 4
Meanwhile, Logan Fredericks scored twice and added a pair of assists as the Gold Miners defeated the Iroquois Falls Eskimos 7-4 in Kirkland Lake.
Hearst native Joel Fortin added two goals and an assist for the winners, while the Gold Miners also got goals from Maxime Choquette, Brayden Stortz and Justin Phillips.
Nathan Avery, David Osborne and Jacob Erwin replied for the visitors.
Tyler Mazzocato made 15 saves to earn the win for the Gold Miners, while Dan Davies, of the Eskimos, turned aside 24 shots and took the loss.
Two other contests saw the Soo Eagles defeat the Blind River Beavers 4-1 in Sault, Mich., and the Powassan Voodoos edge the Wildcats 5-4 in Elliot Lake.