Photos: Northern Lights Photography
The Timmins Rock’s struggles in overtime and shootouts continued Saturday night at the Claude Larose Arena as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Lumberjacks.
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
HEARST — The Timmins Rock’s struggles in overtime and shootouts continued Saturday night at the Claude Larose Arena as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Lumberjacks.
With the overtime setback, the Rock have now lost all five games that have gone beyond regulation this season, three in overtime and two in shootouts.
On the bright side, the Rock extended their point streak to 13 games — 11 wins, Saturday’s overtime loss and a shootout loss the last time the Rock visited the Lumberjacks on Nov. 17.
And just like that game, the Rock had a lead late in Saturday night’s contest, only to see it go up in smoke.
Mathieu Comeau’s goal with 2:40 remaining in regulation got the Lumberjacks back on even terms, at 2-2.
The Rock had an excellent opportunity to win the game in regulation, or early in overtime, as the Lumberjacks were assessed a bench minor for too many men on the ice with 1:30 remaining on the clock.
Instead, with the teams playing four-on-four following the expiration of the penalty in overtime, blue-liner Liam Rampersad converted a two-on-one opportunity for his first goal of the season to win it for the Lumberjacks.
“A lot of things (went wrong),” said Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry.
“I just don’t think we were sharp enough. Our power play was a bit of a mess, just refusing to try different looks.”
Neither team was able to find the back of the net during the opening period of play, with the Rock outshooting the Lumberjacks 6-5.
Mason Svarich got Hearst on the scoresheet 4:50 into the middle frame, when he netted his 15th goal of the season.
That tally held up until the 5:44 mark of the third period when blue-liner Brandon Rossetti scored his second goal of the season to tie things up at 1-1.
With 3:28 remaining in regulation, Brady Harroun netted a power-play marker, his NOJHL-leading 23rd goal of the season.
It took Comeau less than a minute, however, to notch his game-tying marker and set the stage for overtime.
“We had a ton of chances to put this game away,” Perry said.
“We got one in the third to tie it up, we go ahead with less than four minutes left, then they scored to tie it back up.
“We were on the power play to start overtime, but we just couldn’t get it done.”
Asked if there were any individual Rock players who stood out for him in the contest, Perry thought for a moment before saying, “Not really, no.
“It wasn’t a bad hockey game, we just weren’t as good as we needed to be.
“We just didn’t bury our chances. We had a ton of them, but we just didn’t bury them.”
The Rock’s inability to find success in overtime or shootouts continues to baffle their coach.
“I don’t know what it is about this group and overtime, but we just can’t get it together,” Perry said.
Offensively, the Rock boast three of the Top 10 goal scorers in the NOJHL in Harroun, Nicholas Frederick and Lucas Piekarczyk and both of their goalies, Patrick Boivin and Jacob Brown, rank among the top puck stoppers in the league, as well.
“We just need guys who can think out there,” Perry said, when asked if there is something the Rock can work on in practice to improve their efficiency in overtime and shootouts.
“Every time we lose in overtime, it is just somebody making a massive mistake, just not paying attention mentally.
“We started overtime with three forwards and a D (defenceman) out there, with 30 seconds on the power play, and when the guy came out of the box it was four-on-four hockey.
“The forward we had playing D took a chance up ice and turned the puck over, two-on-one the other way, in the net.
“It is just mistakes, we can’t get over ourselves, we just can’t think.”
Despite Saturday’s overtime loss, the Rock (22-5-3-2) remain atop the East Division standings — one point up on the Lumberjacks (23-7-2-0).
Lumberjacks goalie Ethan Dinsdale turned aside 26 of the 28 shots the Rock directed his way to earn his 13th win of the season.
Boivin, who blocked 22 of the 25 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss for the Rock.
NOJHL NOTEBOOK — The three stars of the game were Rampersad, Comeau and Rossetti … The Rock went 1-6 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 0-1 with the man advantage … Rock forward Liam Wells served the first game of his two-game suspension … Official attendance at the Claude Larose Arena was 577 … Saturday’s other action saw the Espanola Paper Kings edge the Rapids 4-3 in French River and the Beavers dump the Elliot Lake Red Wings 6-1 in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Tuesday when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena, at 7 p.m.