By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Timmins Rock goalie Albert Rogers has been named one of the Eastlink TV Three Stars of the Week in the NOJHL.
Soo Eagles goalie Kade Phipps was named first star, while his teammate, forward Chris Murphy claimed second star honours and Rogers rounded out the selections with third star recognition.
Rogers, a 20-year-old North Haven, CT, native, began the week by making 32 saves against the NOJHL’s second-highest scoring team during a 5-3 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena on Thursday.
He followed that up with a 43-save performance as the Rock rallied for a 3-1 triumph over the Iroquois Falls Eskis on home ice Sunday night.
Rogers week might have been even more impressive if he had remembered to pack his skates for the Rock’s game at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane Saturday night, but he was forced to sit out a 6-1 loss to the Crunch.
“When we traded for him, we knew he was going to be a good hockey player, but we didn’t realize just how competitive he is,” said Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“Even in practice, every shot that is taken he takes so much pride in stopping the puck. He doesn’t want any puck to get by him. If a shot does get by him, he makes sure the puck is out of the net right away.
“The guys really like that, obviously. His compete level is just incredible and when it comes to the games, he makes things look easy. He is so confident and he works hard at his game.
“He is so calm back there and he really plays his angles well. He has a good glove hand.”
That glove hand was certainly in evidence Sunday night against Iroquois Falls as he thwarted Eskis forward after Eskis forward throughout the contest.
“That was nice to see and his rebound control was excellent,” Gagne said.
“He is a great athlete and he is a good person. He is really good in the dressing room and the guys like him.”
In his last seven starts with the Rock, Rogers has registered a record of 5-1-1-0, with a 2.81 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.
Since being acquired by the Rock in a Nov. 17 trade with the Rapids that saw forward Tyler Planetta sent to French River, Rogers has a record of 7-3-1-0, with a goals against average of 2.95 and a save percentage of .918.
Overall, on the season Rogers of 8-10-3-1, with a goals against average of 3.80 and a save percentage of .910.
His 1,278:00 minutes in the Rock/Rapids crease this season have him ranked as the seventh-busiest goalie in the NOJHL.
Rogers spent the 2015-16 season with the Elliot Lake Wildcats, posting a record of 7-8-0-1, with a 2.85 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.
He was dealt to the Rapids prior to the start of this season in a deal that saw defenceman Quinn Robelle, currently with the Crunch, move to Elliot Lake.
Meanwhile, Phipps’ strong play in the Eagles net helped the Soo go undefeated for the week.
In three appearances, the 18-year-old from Perrysburg, Ohio, was victorious in all of them helping his side go 3-0-0-1.
He began with 26 stops in a 7-4 decision against Espanola Wednesday before making 29 saves Friday in a 4-1 win against league-leading Powassan while putting an end to the Voodoos 26-game unbeaten streak.
Phipps then capped off his solid week by posting his first NOJHL shutout Sunday in handling all 26 attempts he saw to blank the Rayside-Balfour Canadians at Chelmsford Arena.
Since joining Sault Ste. Marie in October, Phipps has gone 15-7-0-0 in 23 appearances and sits third among all league goalies with a 2.64 goals-against average. He’s also fourth in save percentage at .919.
Murphy was been a model of consistency all season long for the Eagles.
He picked up points in all four contests his club skated in last week.
The 20-year-old from Livonia, Mich., started off by doling out four assists in the road win at Espanola.
He then added helpers in victories over Powassan and Elliot Lake before supplying the game-winner goal Sunday night at Rayside-Balfour.
Currently on a five-game point streak, Murphy leads the Eagles in offensive production in 2016-17 with 53 points in 39 games on 19 tallies and 34 assists.
His total numbers also put him in fifth spot overall among all NOJHL skaters.