By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
KIRKLAND LAKE – The Timmins Rock rallied for a pair of goals in the final 2:06 of regulation to salvage a 5-5 draw with the Gold Miners Thursday night.
Little was at stake for either squad, as the Timmins has locked up third place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings and Kirkland Lake will finish in fourth place.
“Anytime you’re involved in a 5-5 hockey game, you know there are a lot of mistakes being made at both ends of the ice,” said Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“It was a pretty intense hockey game and the intensity picked up at the end of the third period.
“Both teams played well at times, but there were too many little mistakes. It was almost like an exhibition game, because neither team had anything to play for, except the personal individual points for the players.
“I guess you could say it was a good road point.”
The Rock ran into penalty trouble at various points of the contest, which certainly impacted the game’s momentum.
“I guess you could say they were deserved, but maybe I should say questionably deserved,” Gagne said.
“Still, a penalty is a penalty and when you get penalized for hooking and tripping and slashing, it means you are chasing most of the time and that’s not good.
“Normally, when we are on top of our game, we are on top of the puck. When we do that, then the chances are it is the other team that is going to get the penalties.”
In addition to giving the Gold Miners too many power play opportunities, the Rock did not capitalize when they had the man advantage.
“We had been working on that in practice this week, but we just didn’t capitalize,” Gagne said.
The Rock jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the first period was 10 minutes old Thursday night.
Tyler Romain’s 30th goal of the season at the 3:09 mark of the frame got the visitors on the scoreboard first.
Then Cory Sprague netted his 22nd of the season six minutes later to increase the Rock advantage to two goals.
Alex Storjohann got the Gold Miners on scoreboard before the end of the period to cut the home side’s deficit to 2-1 when he scored his 20th goal of the season.
That goal provided a momentum shift for Kirkland Lake, as they scored twice in less than two minutes in the first half of the second period to tie things up and then take a 3-2 lead.
Stavros Soilis got the first of those two markers when he potted his 15th goal of the season and then Ashton Amaya added his 25th goal of the season.
The Rock were able to tie things up six minutes later, however, as captain Jordan Rendle netted his 36th goal of the season.
The second period ended with the two sides deadlocked at 3-3.
The Gold Miners reclaimed the lead on the power play when Tyler Fyfe scored his 27th goal of the season at the 2:09 mark of the third period.
A second power-play marker, Kevin Ford’s 33rd goal of the season with just 2:29 remaining in regulation appeared to provide the Gold Miners with all the insurance they would need to wrap up a victory.
It took the Rock just 23 seconds to respond, however, as Sprague scored his second goal of the night and 23rd of the season.
Then, with Rock goalie Albert Rogers on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Tyler Romain added his second goal of the night and 31st of the season with just one minute remaining in regulation.
The Rock pressed for the extra point, outshooting the Gold Miners 5-1 in both a five-minute four-on-four overtime period and a similar three-on-three session.
Gagne was impressed with a number of his Rock players Thursday night.
“Romain played extremely well tonight,” he said.
“Sprague had a couple of goals, as well, which was nice since his father was here to watch him play tonight. He was really pumped, which was great.
“Guys like (Stewart) Parnell and (Jacob) Shankar, the usual guys, really helped us out tonight, especially with the penalty killing. The even got some time on the power play tonight.”
Rogers turned aside 30 of the 35 shots he faced to earn his first tie a Rock uniform.
Gold Miners goalie Ridge Gerads blocked 39 of the 44 shots the Rock fired his way to also earn a tie.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock did not dress forward Maxime Lague (healthy scratch), forward Alexandre Brisson (upper-body injury) and goalie Jeff Veitch (illness) … The three stars of the game were Romain, Amaya and Gerads … The Rock went 0-5 on the power play, while the Gold Miners were 2-7 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex was 350 … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they welcome the Iroquois Falls Eskis to the McIntyre Arena. Game time has been set for 7:30 p.m.