THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Timmins Rock defenceman Luka Bolduc celebrates his second-period goal during Sunday afternoons NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. After spotting the visiting Powassan Voodoos a 2-0 lead, the Rock stormed back with three-unanswered second-period goals en route to a 4-2 victory. Bolducs fifth goal of the season got the puck rolling and with the win the Rock now have a share of first place in the NOJHLs East Division standings.
Captain Derek Seguin scored a pair of goals — including his NOJHL-leading 22nd of the season — to help lead the Timmins Rock to a 4-2 win over the Powassan Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.
It allowed the Rock, who dropped a 5-3 decision to the Lumberjacks in Hearst Friday night, to snap a modest two-game winless skid.
“On my first goal, we had been working hard on the power play the last couple of weeks, but had been struggling to generate some offence,” Seguin said.
“The puck went across to (Josh) Dickson and he got a shot off. We have been stressing the shoot-first mentality. The puck ended up in the slot and it was just an easy tap-in for me.”
The puck seemed to be following Seguin around in the offensive zone and he had a number of other chances, as well.
“Their goalie (Christian Cicigoi) was playing really well,” he said.
“You kind of look back on the ones you miss and wish you could get those opportunities back, but at the end of the day we put enough pucks in the net to win the game and that’s all that matters.”
Things did not start out too well for the Rock Sunday afternoon — as the Voodoos who were wrapping up a three-game road swing through the North after a 7-4 loss to the Crunch in Cochrane Friday night and a 5-4 shootout setback against the Lumberjacks in Hearst Saturday night — jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead.
Rico Rossi got the visitors on the scoreboard when he netted his sixth goal of the season just past the seven-minute mark.
Then, Tomas Yachmenev added a power-play marker, his 18th goal of the season, seven-and-a-half minutes later to put the Voodoos up by a pair of goals.
Shortly after Yachmenev’s goal, Cicigoi had to leave the Voodoos’ net and receive treatment from Rock trainer Lacey Rigg for a bleeding nose.
Joe Vrbetic came on in relief and manned the Powassan crease for 1:48, but Cicigoi returned to duty before the end of the period and finished out the game.
“We just tried to rally together and stay positive after than opening period,” Seguin said.
“We faced a lot of adversity in the opening 20 minutes, so we just tried to keep the morale up and keep work, battle back. We had done it before and that was the message between periods.”
The Rock began their second-period rally when stay-at-home defenceman Luka Bolduc blasted home his fifth goal of the season at the 8:18 mark of the middle frame.
Seguin then got the Rock back on even terms less than two minutes later when he notched a power-play marker, his 21st goal of the season.
The Rock the pulled in front 3-2 when the suddenly red-hot Gage Tremblay netted his fifth goal of the season.
That’s the way the score remained until late in the third period when Seguin blocked a shot just inside the Timmins blue-line with Cicigoi on the Voodoos’ bench in favour of an extra attacker.
The Timmins native outraced a pair of Voodoos to get to the puck and then deposited it into the wide-open Powassan net for his second goal of the night and 22nd of the season to make the final 4-2 in favour of the Rock.
Rock assistant coach Marc Bisson was not happy with his squad’s play in the opening 20 minutes of the hockey game.
“In the first intermission, we basically told them that start was unacceptable,” he said.
“We weren’t skating. We weren’t making passes. We weren’t receiving passes. We were not physical. So, the message was basically we had to be better. We had to be more accountable to each other.
“We kind of left Masty (Rock goalie Tyler Masternak) out to dry a little bit and we knew we could be better. Everybody agreed we were going to be better and the boys came out and did it. Kudos to the 20 guys in our room.”
Fans could almost see the swagger return to the steps of the Rock players after Bolduc netted the team’s first goal.
“Playing at the McIntyre Arena, we get great crowds and when you get a defenceman like Luka who scores a goal like that, the guys get excited,” Bisson said.
“Luka does a lot of blocking shots and dirty work out there, so the guys really get amped up and excited when he is rewarded with a goal. It was a great activation, he came in and got a great pass.”
The assistant coach was again at a loss trying to find the right words to describe the contributions of Seguin Sunday afternoon.
“There are no words to describe his play,” Bisson said.
“There are very few players like him in this league and we are so fortunate to have him here. The confidence his linemates and teammates get when they are out there with him is amazing.
“Last week when (forward Riley) Brousseau was kind of in a little bit of a slump, we plugged him in on that line when (forward Keegan) McMullen wasn’t able to go an he scored a hat-trick. Brousseau has been playing really well since then.
“We did change the lines up a little bit in the first period today to try and get a few guys going and to balance out the lines, but in the second period we just went back to putting McMullen and (forward Riley) Robitaille out there with Seguin.
“They have been carrying the club a lot this year.”
The assistant coach was once again impressed with the play of Tremblay, as well.
“Gage has really been great for us,” Bisson said.
“He is just a 17-year-old kid, but he has been getting more and more comfortable. We have discussed the systems with him and what we expect. Seguin has been helping him out with some of our systems, teaching it to him. They are talking hockey and Gage is just thrilled he made the decision to come here and play for the Rock.
“He is off to a great start and he has some confidence.”
The Rock allowed a power-play goal in the contest, but the assistant coach was happy with the penalty kill.
“Bolduc and Eric Moreau did a great job out there killing penalties,” Bisson said.
“It’s not a glamorous job at all. You have to block shots and you have to do things a lot of guys don’t want to do out there, but those guys have been buying in.
“Our penalty kill is near the top of the league (second overall, .1% behind the Soo Thunderbirds) and it is a credit to those guys who are willing to do those dirty jobs.”
Voodoos coach Max Gavin was pleased with the way his squad started the contest, but admits they ran out of gas.
“Timmins stepped up their game and matched us after the first period,” he said.
“A hockey game is 60 minutes long, not 20. This is our third time through this trip now and we just have to do a better job of managing a lead.
“We have some time off now to get healthy and regroup, hopefully come back with a strong second half.”
The Voodoos executed their game plan to near perfection during the first period.
“We were able to establish the forecheck and work to pucks,” Gavin said.
“We worked hard away from the puck and committed to the little things.
“Then, we kind of got away from it in the second period.”
Despite the loss, Gavin was pleased with the effort put forth by a number of his Voodoos Sunday afternoon.
“Matt MacDougall played a really good game on D for us,” he said.
“Christian Cicigoi in net was unbelievable again. Those are the two guys who really stood out for me.”
Sunday’s victory allowed the Rock (22-12-2-0) to move into a first place tie with the Cochrane Crunch (22-14-0-2) atop the NOJHL’s East Division standings — one point ahead of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (22-10-1-0) and six points ahead of the Voodoos (19-14-1-1).
Masternak stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in the contest to pick up his NOJHL-leading 18th win of the season.
Cicigoi, who turned aside 24 of the 27 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss. Vrbetic stopped the only shot he faced during his 1:28 of work in the first period.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of Sunday afternoon’s game were Seguin, Tremblay and Cicigoi. The Rock went 1-3 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 1-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena on Sunday was 711 … Sunday’s only other contest saw the Beavers edge the French River Rapids 5-4 in Blind River … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they travel to Hearst for a game against the Lumberjacks at the Claude Larose Arena. The two sides will then play the rematch at the McIntyre Arena Saturday night. Game time is set for 7 p.m.