By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
IROQUOIS FALLS – Tyler Romain scored twice to lead the Timmins Rock to a 6-2 win over the Eskimos at the Jus Jordan Arena Sunday night.
Unlike the last time the two squads faced off in Iroquois Falls, the Eskimos were unable to overcome a two-goal deficit four times — or even once.
“Everything went well for us tonight,” said Rock assistant coach Marc Bisson.
“We had a good strong forecheck. We struck to our program and we played a really good game.
“I think we were way more disciplined than when we played them here last time and that really helps. We still gave up one power-play goal, but other than that we didnֹ’t take too many stupid penalties.”
The Rock did take a couple of questionable penalties on their opponent’s side of centre ice late in the hockey game, but they did not end up costing the team.
“They were definitely bad penalties and that is something that we addressed after the game,” Bisson said.
“We managed to kill them off, so it did not end up hurting us in the end.”
The assistant coach was impressed with the effort of Romain Sunday night, as well as another forward.
“Tyler had a really good game and he was flying out there,” Bisson said.
“The line of Jordan Rendle, (Devin) Panzeca and (Bain) Cunningham, who had to leave the game with a lower body injury, has been really solid for us.”
Cunningham’s injury is not believed to be serious and it is hoped he might be ready for the Rock’s next game.
The Rock jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead, as Panzeca netted his eighth goal of the season at the 4:59 mark and Ryan Theriault added his fifth goal of the season with just 20 seconds remaining in the frame.
The Eskimos appeared to have scored the game’s first goal, but the referees waved off the goal and instead gave Iroquois Falls forward Gary Mindus a penalty for goaltender interference.
Panzeca’s goal was scored just 15 seconds after Mindus had returned to the ice.
The Eskimos did get on the board at the 4:35 mark of the second period, as defenceman Kezmin Madden scored a power-play goal to cut the Rock lead to 2-1.
Romain scored his first goal of the game, and second of the season, to restore the Rock’s two goal advantage less than four minutes later when he drilled a slap shot past Eskimos goalie Josh Horner from the top of the face-off circle to his right.
Zachary Kercz’s seventh goal of the season midway through the second period increased the Rock lead to 4-1.
That’s the way the score remained as the two teams headed to the dressing room for the second intermission.
The Eskimos killed off a five-on-three at the start of the third period to provide them with a little momentum and then Marco Luciani beat Rock goalie Matthew Nixon for his first goal of the season to cut the Rock lead to 4-2.
They then got a couple of power-play opportunities, as the Rock took a pair of penalties on the opposition side of centre ice, but they were unable to convert on either chance.
Then, just 1:04 after the second Rock minor penalty expired the visitors got a goal from Tristan Salesse, his eighth of the season, to increase their advantage to 5-2.
Romain provided a little icing on the cake, as he netted his second of the night and third of the season from a scramble in front of Horner with just 6.5 seconds remaining on the clock.
Eskimos assistant coach Jamey Bernier acknowledged his team did not play a complete game Sunday night.
“We came into the third period with intensity,” he said.
“I just wish it would have carried on. The third period was our better period, but far. We just needed to bring that effort for 60 minutes of play. That was our downfall tonight.
“I think the effort was there from the boys. It is just the energy level and the intensity level was not there for the full 60 minutes. It just comes down to coming out as a unit and wanting it as a unit.
“We are doing some things well, but we are falling apart on certain assignments. The small things are what is getting us. If we apply the small things we have been working on in practice to the games, that is what is going to pay off for us in the long run.”
Bernier can see a light at the end of the tunnel for the Eskimos.
“We have come a long way and we are going to get this going,” he said.
The assistant coach was pleased with the play of Horner Sunday night, as well as a couple of the team’s forwards.
“Our goaltender did a hell of a job for us again tonight and Luciani got his first goal with our hockey club,” he said.
“I think he is going to continue to grow as a great asset to this team and Joey Biers also had a great night for himself, chipping in on roles he is not accustomed to playing. He played a complete game and did a great job.”
Bisson, whose main responsibility is working with the Rock goalies, was impressed with Nixon’s play Sunday night.
“Matthew was solid tonight,” he said.
“I don’t think he gave up any rebounds at all. He was seeing the puck really well and we were trying to keep them to the outside. He was able to see through the traffic when he had to and made some big saves for us.”
Nixon turned aside 36 of the 38 shots the Eskimos fired his was to record the win, while Horner blocked 43 of the 49 shots he faced in a losing cause for the home side.
Nixon was just happy to get the start and to help his team record a victory.
“I was seeing the puck well out there tonight,” he said.
“Our defence was keeping the guys to the outside, which is always helpful, and it was just a good team effort for the win.”
Nixon stopped a penalty shot during the game, but he didn’t last that as his toughest stop of the night.
“During one of their last power plays, No. 9 (Brett Ouderkirk) made a pass across and I had to flair out the glove and make the save for the boys,” he said.
Nixon wasn’t worried even when the Eskimos were able to cut the lead to 4-2 in the third period.
“You just have to stay composed out there, keep your head in the game and have confidence in the team and yourself,” he said.
NOJHL NOTES — The Rock went 0-5 on the power play, while the Eskimos were 1-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Jus Jordan Arena was 458 … The Rock will return to action Wednesday night when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena … The Eskimos will travel to French River to play the Rapids Friday night and to Elliot Lake to play the Wildcats Saturday night.