Timmins Rock players, from left, Evan Kentish-Stack, Tyler Gilberds and James Redmond celebrate Kentish-Stack’s game-winning goal in the second overtime period of Thursday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Kentish-Stack’s fourth goal of the season lifted the Rock to a 2-1 double-overtime win over the French River Rapids. The victory allowed the Rock to increase their lead over the Rapids for fifth place in the East Division standings to three points. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Evan Kentish-Stack’s fourth goal of the season with 1:36 remaining in the second overtime period lifted the Timmins Rock to a 2-1 win over the French River Rapids Thursday night at the McIntyre Arena.
“I saw Reddy (James Redmond) carrying it up in the corner and he dished it off to (Tyler) Gilberds,” Kentish-Stack said.
“I saw Gilberds working hard in the corner and I guess their guy lost his man and he gave me a nice feed in the slot. I saw low glove and I took the shot.
“I saw he (Rapids goalie Andrew Rocha) held his glove a little tight to his body, so I thought that might be a weakness.”
The puck seemed to be following Kentish-Stack around for much of the night and he was able to generate quite a few shots on goal before he netted his game-winning marker.
“My linemates (Linder Spencer and Jace Soroko) played really well tonight,” he said.
“They helped me out a lot and we worked hard down low.”
Kentish-Stack’s game-winning goal spoiled a 47-save performance by Rocha.
Rocha held the Rapids in the contest as they were outshot 17-12 in the opening 20 minutes, 19-6 in the middle frame and 10-5 in the third period.
In fact, the only period in which the Rapids held an advantage in shots on goal was the first four-on-four overtime when they held a 6-0 advantage on the home side.
Rock coach Corey Beer was pleased to see his squad finally break threw in the second overtime period.
“Their goalie was incredible,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe some of the saves he made. Our guys were coming back to the bench and shaking their heads. He gave us fits all night.”
Beer was confident that if the Rock kept peppering Rocha with shots, eventually somebody would get the puck past him.
“The message was pretty consistent and we didn’t want to deviate away from our game plan,” he said.
“We wanted to work pucks down low and try to expose them on a bit of a cycle game. Our guys were persistent with it and we knew it would just be a matter of time before it paid off.
“It took us two overtime periods to get to that point, but it was nice to see Evan Kentish-Stack get the winner. There was not a harder-working player out there on the ice, or a guy more deserving tonight.
“Early on in the season, he was a guy who was trying to find his place. He didn’t really have a role, but he has worked out a niche here on the penalty kill and as a shut-down player, but he has also added a bit of offensive flair to his game, too.
“I love the way he plays night-in and night-out. He is a model Rock player and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
The Rapids jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period of play when Alex Paul netted a power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season.
That advantage held up until the 12:30 mark of the middle frame when Jace Soroko scored his fourth goal of the season to tie things up at 1-1.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net during the third period, nor the first four-on-four overtime session.
That set the stage for Kentish-Stack’s game-winning heroics with the two sides playing three-on-three hockey.
A number of Rock players impressed their coach with their efforts Thursday night.
“C.J. Bradburn, again, was one of the best players on the ice,” Beer said.
“He was absolutely tremendous and did everything we asked him to do.
“Linden Spencer played another good game. I could go right down the list. Everybody played great tonight.
“We were able to roll four lines the entire night and use six defencemen. I think everyone, including the forwards, was above 12 minutes played. The D were up to between 15 and 25 minutes.
“We were able to sit back, match a couple of lines and have everyone contribute. This is the type of game, with a fast-paced style, that we want to play.”
With the double-overtime win, the Rock (11-18-1-2) were able to increase their lead over the Rapids (9-18-4-0) for fifth place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings to three points, although French River currently has a game in hand.
“It was massive for us to be able to get that extra point in overtime,” Beer said.
“To be able to hold the guys who are right behind us down a bit, was very crucial for us. They have a very hard-working team over there on the French River side, so it was good for our guys to fight through and get that extra point.”
Rapids assistant coach Chris McDougall was disappointed his squad was not able to pull out the victory, especially given the strong play of Rocha in the French River net.
“He made some huge saves for us tonight, especially in the second period when we didn’t play our greatest hockey,” he said.
“Usually when your goalie lets in fewer than three goals, you are going to win, but unfortunately, both goalies played well tonight and we didn’t get the win.”
In addition to Rocha, McDougall was pleased with the effort put forth by a number of Rapids players Thursday night.
“Connor Loft, Will Frustaglio and Levi Siau, our usual corps of guys, were pretty good tonight. It was a tough game and we were in the box off and on a bit, which hurt.
“We were able to get a point, which is huge right now, but we would have liked the two points. Over all, I think we needed a better 60-minute effort. We can’t be inconsistent.”
McDougall liked the way the Rapids started Thursday night’s contest.
“We were skating and moving our feet,” he said.
“As the game went on, we stopped doing that. We were backing in a bit and not covering our man.
“We got away from the little things and it cost us.”
Tyler Masternak turned aside 30 of the 31 shots he faced to pick up his third win on the season and first in a Rock uniform.
Rocha stopped 47 of the 49 shots the Rock fired his way and he was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Kentish-Stack, Rocha and Soroko … The Rock did not dress forwards Derek Seguin (fractured jaw) and Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury), defenceman Shawn Sloan (upper-body injury) and goalie Eric Jackson (lower-body injury) … Former Rock forward Donny Schultz was ejected from the game midway through the opening period when he was assessed a five-minute major penalty for deliberately striking an official and a game misconduct following a collision with linesman Stewart McLeod … The Rock went 0-4 on the power play, while the Rapids were 1-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 581 … Thursday’s other action saw the Soo Thunderbirds dump the Canadians 5-3 in Rayside-Balfour and the Elliot Lake Wildcats blank the Express 4-0 in Espanola … The Rock will return to action on Tuesday night when they host the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.