GALLERY: Thunderbirds hand East-leading Rock third-straight setback

Soo Thunderbirds blue-liner Kolby Fellinger chips the puck past Timmins Rock forward Jack Kelly, as teammate Declan Gallivan looks on, during Saturday night’s NOJHL game at the John Rhodes Community Centre. Fresh off a 17-0 dismantling of the Elliot Lake Vikings Friday night, the Thunderbirds dumped the Rock 5-1, handing them their third-straight regulation setback. BOB DAVIES/FOR NOJHL NETWORK jpg, TD, apsmc

Photos: Bob Davies

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

SAULT STE. MARIE — Not-so-special teams proved to be the downfall of the Timmins Rock during Saturday night’s 5-1 loss to the Thunderbirds at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

It was the third-straight regulation loss for the Rock who dropped a 6-2 decision to the Soo Eagles at Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., on Friday night.

Saturday night, the Rock’s power-play unit — tops in the NOJHL, with an efficiency rating of 31.7 per cent — went 0-5 with the man advantage.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, the Rock’s not-so-vaunted penalty kill gave up three power-play goals to the Thunderbirds in six shorthanded situations.

It wasn’t just his squad’s lack of special teams’ success that had Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry upset, however.

“We had a great first period and then stopped playing basically, that was it,” he said.

“We had a tough game Friday night, came out firing today but they got a lucky goal at the end of the first period, but it was 1-1 going to the locker room on the road, then we just stopped playing.

“They (Thunderbirds) upped their urgency, upped their play.”

To make matters worse, the Rock lost arguably their best blue-liner when captain Felix Cadieux-Fredette was ejected from the contest midway through the second period when he was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct.

“We were pretty depleted back there in the first place and then he got kicked out, it has been tough back there,” Perry said.

Already missing blue-liners Kyle Trottier, Chase Longhurst-McIntyre, Ayden Trottier and Sam Gallagher, as well as forwards Liam Wells and Kaeden McArthur from the lineup heading into the weekend, it would be hard to envision a more impactful loss from the lineup.

Despite being outshot 13-8 in the opening period of Saturday night’s contest, it was the Rock who hit the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead on Jack Anderson’s ninth goal of the season.

The Thunderbirds were able to get back on even terms before the first intermission, however, as Kelsey Ouellet — who had a hat-trick in the Thunderbirds’ 17-0 win over the Elliot Lake Vikings on Friday — netted the first of his two goals on the night and 14th of the season, with less than two minutes remaining on the clock.

Samuel Lake then netted what would prove to be the game-winning goal, the first of the three Soo power-play markers and his 14th tally of the season, five minutes into the middle frame.

Ouellet then added his second goal of the game and 15th of the season nine-and-a-half minutes later.

The Thunderbirds continued to take the play to the Rock in the third period and added two more goals to their total.

Lake picked up his second goal of the night and 15th of the season, also a power-play marker, at the 12:40 mark.

Jonathan Sonedecker then added another power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season, to close out the scoring in the contest, three-and-a-half minutes later.

Perry acknowledged the Rock lost to a pretty good hockey team Saturday night.

“They are a great team, they are always contenders, but so are we, but we are just not playing good right now,” he said.

In addition to getting healthy, the coach noted one of the keys for the Rock between now and the start of the playoffs has to be improving on the penalty kill — currently ranked ninth out of 12 teams in the NOJHL.

“Obviously, getting healthy is priority No. 1, the penalty kill gets better if the right personnel are out there,” Perry said.

“We need those guys back. The same with the power play, it gets better with the right personnel. Obviously, we miss Wells out there.”

Still, the coach was hesitant to use his squad’s rash of injuries as justification for the Rock’s current three-game skid.

“It’s no excuse because we have pieces in the lineup right now to win hockey games, but we are just not playing well,” Perry said.

“Aside from the results this weekend, we need to get healthy.”

One of the few bright spots from the two weekend games is the Rock did not add to their injured list.

“There are guys playing injured and stuff, but nothing that will keep guys out of the lineup,” Perry said.

Kolton Bourret, who turned aside 17 of the 18 shots the Rock directed his way, earned his 16th win of the season for the Thunderbirds.

Rock goalie Dryden Riley, who stopped 39 of the 44 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.


Nolan Hendry’s natural hat-trick lifted the Eagles to their 6-2 win over the Rock at Pullar Stadium Friday night.

Long bus ride aside, the coach was not about to use that as an excuse for his squad’s slow start Friday night.

“We are just not playing good, we are just not playing good, I don’t know how else to put it,” Perry said.

“We are not paying attention to detail, we are not working hard, we are not winning puck battles, we are making bad decisions with the puck, we are making bad reads, our goaltending wasn’t great this weekend.”

It took Hendry just 1:09 to net the first of his three goals on the night and 11th of the season, a power-play marker, after Rock blue-liner Ethan Albert was sent off for tripping 25 seconds into the contest.

Hendry added his second tally of the contest and 12th of the campaign 10 minutes later.

And he then completed his natural hat-trick when he netted his third goal of the opening period and 13th of the season with 1:25 remaining in the frame.

After being outscored 3-0 and outshot 15-9 in the first period, the Rock finally got their legs under them in the middle frame.

Mason Svarich scored a power-play marker, his 31st goal of the campaign, just 17 seconds into the period to get the Rock on the scoreboard.

Linemate Nolan Ring then added his 13th marker of the campaign five minutes later and all of a sudden the Rock found themselves within a goal of their hosts.

That would be as close as they would come to getting back on even terms, however, as the Eagles struck for three-straight goals to take command of the contest.

Darby McCarthy’s first of two markers in the game and 14th of the season restored the home side’s two-goal advantage before the second intermission.

“I thought after the first period, we had a great answer in the second period,” Perry said.

“We got the game to 3-2 and even down 4-2 I thought we were playing well, but that fifth goal just can’t go in. It killed us. We just couldn’t recover.

“Bad first period, good second period, bad third period, we are just not consistently good enough right now. Our systems are a mess, structurally, we are a mess.

“Our will to compete and our will to win just isn’t there right now. We just have a tired, beat-up group right now.”

Zach Sweitzer added his 13th goal of the season early in the third period and McCarthy closed out the scoring when he netted his second marker of the game and 15th of the campaign.

McCarthy actually had an excellent opportunity to complete a hat-trick of his own with 48 seconds remaining on the clock, but Rock goalie Patrick Boivin denied him on a penalty shot.

Eagles goalie Anthony Zolezzi, who turned aside 32 of the 34 shots the Rock directed his way, earned his 16th win of the season.

Boivin who blocked 39 of the 45 shots he faced was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of Saturday’s game were Ouellet, Lake and Thunderbirds forward Silas Crawford (two assists), while Hendry, Zolezzi and McCarthy were selected Friday night … The Rock went 0-5 on the power play Saturday night, while the Thunderbirds were 3-6 with the man advantage. Friday night, the Rock went 1-6 on the power play, while the Eagles were 1-2 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the John Rhodes Community Centre Saturday night was 150. Friday night, 793 fans attended the game at Pullar Stadium … Saturday’s other action saw the Hearst Lumberjacks dump the Storm 6-2 in Iroquois Falls, the Eagles thump the Elliot Lake Vikings 11-1 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and the Beavers blank the Greater Sudbury Cubs 5-0 in Blind River … The Rock will return home to take on the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena on Monday, at 2 p.m.