Timmins Rock forward Harry Clark deposits his seventh goal of the season into the Cochrane net behind goalie Liam McCarthy during the second period of Thursday night’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. The power-play marker game the Rock a 5-1 lead in a game they would go on to win 8-3. It was the seventh win in eight tries for the Rock against the Crunch this season. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
Captain Derek Seguin picked up the fifth hat-trick of his NOJHL career to help lead the Timmins Rock to an 8-3 win over the Cochrane Crunch at the McIntyre Arena Thursday night.
It was the seventh win in eight tries for the Rock in their 10-game set against their East Division rivals.
And Rock assistant coach Marc Bisson was a lot happier with his team’s effort that he had been 24 hours earlier.
“I loved our start, especially the first 15 minutes,” he said.
“Then, the last five minutes of the first period we kind of got away from things and gave them an opportunity to get a few chances.”
As he has most nights over the past four seasons, Seguin was once again dominant in all three zones.
“He is our hardest-working player, he is probably our best player, he is definitely our most talented player,” Bisson said.
“His work ethic is just through the roof. He just refuses to lose. He wins puck battles at all costs and puts his body on the line.
“He is our leader and we are sure going to miss him (when his Junior ‘A’ career is finished).”
The Rock scored early and often during the opening 20 minutes of play, building a 4-1 advantage.
Henry Brock got the home side on the scoreboard just 1:28 into the contest when he notched his third goal of the season.
Seguin then doubled the Rock lead to 2-0 when he scored the first of his three goals and 18th of the season just past the midway point in the frame.
Tyler Gilberds followed with the first of his two goals on the night and sixth of the campaign.
And 25 seconds later Seguin picked up his second goal of the night and 19th of the season to put the Rock in front 4-0.
The Crunch were able to get one of those goals back prior to the end of the period, however, as blue-liner Mike Iatridis netted his first goal of the season.
The two teams then exchanged second-period goals, with Harry Clark finding the back of the net with a power-play marker, his seventh goal of the season, for the Rock and blue-liner Travis Szafron responding with his third goal of the season for the Crunch.
Gilberds’ second goal of the night and seventh of the season just shy of the midway point in the third period increased the Rock lead to 6-2, but the Crunch were not done yet.
Matteo Peca’s third goal of the season just over a minute later pulled the visitors back to within three goals.
That would be as close as they would come to getting back on even terms, however, as the Rock added two more goals to put the icing on the cake.
Josh Dickson notched his 13th goal of the season and then a minute-and-a-half later, Seguin completed his hat-trick by scoring his NOJHL-leading 20th goal of the season.
There was no shortage of Rock players who caught their assistant coach’s eye Thursday night, including Brock.
“Playing your first year of Junior ‘A’ is all about confidence and Hank has gotten that confidence,” Bisson said.
“He didn’t have a goal for a long time, but he finally scored his first one and now he is playing with a lot more confidence, playing with Seguin and Dickson helps that confidence, of course.”
That trio was united for part of Thursday night’s contest, but the coaching staff juggled the lines a few times.
Gilberds, who can be a bit of a streaky scorer, also had a big game Thursday night for the Rock.
“He plays with so much speed and speed is crucial to our game,” Bisson said.
Clark and blue-liner Eric Moreau (three assists) also earned a little extra praise.
“Consistency, I know we have said it before but Eric Moreau and Harry Clark are just hard, hard workers and you know what you are getting every day,” Bisson said.
“They are hard on pucks and they don’t lose puck battles. They are so important to this team.
“When we are undisciplined, like we were tonight, Eric Moreau is our No. 1 penalty killer. Down three-on-five, Eric Moreau is who we are looking at.”
Known more as your prototypical stay-at-home defenceman, Moreau has collected 11 points in his past six games.
“It took him a while to get his first goal, if you remember,” Bisson said.
“He scored his first goal three times before he actually got credit for it. Now, he seems to have a nose for the net.
“He pinches in when the opportunities present themselves. He doesn’t force anything. He lets the play come to him.”
Bisson, who works with the Rock goaltenders, was also impressed with Gavin McCarthy’s play Thursday night.
“I thought he was great,” he said.
“At times, we probably hung him out to dry a little bit and he made quite a few exceptional saves, especially in the third period to keep the score where it was.”
Crunch coach, general manager and owner Tom Nickolau wasn’t happy to see his squad fall behind 4-0, but liked the way they battled back after digging that deep hole.
“Take away those first four goals early on and I thought we played with them,” he said.
“They got goals late in the third period … happens, but I thought we did a pretty good job in today’s game.
“Peca has been stellar in this series and (Benjamin) Orgil has been steady.
“We just have to move on. We have two more games.”
Eight games into the 10-game set with the Rock, Nickolau admitted his squad is starting to feel tired, physically and mentally.
“It’s hard because in the eight games we have spent 70 to 80 per cent of the time in our own zone,” he said.
“It is taxing. It is hard, with the caliber of play. The guys are trying hard, but they (Rock) are a strong, strong team.
“It is good for our guys, though. We are playing hockey.”
The coach would like to see his Crunch win at least one of the two remaining games in the set.
“I think that would be very important,” Nickolau said.
“We won one early (third game) and we will have a good shot on Sunday if we come out hard, get an early goal and try to protect the lead.”
Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced to pick up his fifth victory of the season.
Crunch netminder Liam McCarthy, who 42 of the 50 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Seguin, Brock and Gilberds … The Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-5 with the man advantage … The Rock and the Crunch will continue their 10-game set at the Tim Horton Event Centre on Sunday, at 3 p.m.