COCHRANE — The Timmins Rock combined tight defence and a pair of power-play goals to earn a 2-1 win over the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre Friday night.
With the victory, the Rock (3-3-1-0) — who hold down fourth place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings — were able to increase their lead over the Crunch (2-5-0-0) to three points while staying within a single point of the Hearst Lumberjacks (4-3-0-0), who double up the visiting French River Rapids 4-2 Friday night.
Rock coach Corey Beer was pleased to see his team turn in a much better effort — especially in the defensive zone than they had during a 6-1 loss to the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake Wednesday night.
“I think we were in good shape and kind of limited their red zone chances overall tonight,” he said.
“I thought we had a great first period, even offensively. Both teams were trying to feel each other out a bit.
“We regrouped and then played a great second period. We got those two power-play goals and they were momentum builders. That is something we had kind of been lacking the last little bit on the power play.
“That was obviously key for us moving into the third period. Our penalty kill was very good tonight, as well.”
Neither the Rock or the Crunch were able to find the back of the net during the opening 20 minutes of play — with Timmins goalie Tyler Masternak and his Cochrane counterpart, Zach Wickson, each turning aside six shots.
The Rock got on the scoreboard first, when Derek Seguin potted a power-play marker, his fifth goal of the season, midway through the second period.
Linemate Riley Robitaille added a second power-play marker, his third goal of the season, less than three minutes later to push the Rock advantage to 2-0.
The Rock carried that two-goal advantage into the third period and nursed it until the 8:02 mark when Nick Flanders scored his second goal of the season.
That would be as close as the Crunch would come to getting back on even terms, however, as the Rock held on for the 2-1 victory.
Once again, Seguin and Robitaille were front and centre when it came time for Beer to recognize the Rock players who turned in a solid effort Friday night.
“Those two guys do everything for us,” he said.
“It was great to see and Keegan McMullen is playing on the other wing and he did a great job, especially for a young kid (16 years old).”
Forward Matt Capisciolto (3, 0-3-3, 2), whom the Rock acquired earlier this week from the Soo Eagles, made his debut in a Timmins uniform Friday night in Cochrane.
The 1998-birth-year Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native, who stands 6-3 and weighs 185 pounds, was in his second year with the Eagles. In 20171-8, he posted decent numbers (43, 6-11-17, 30).
“He was great on the wing with (Josh) Dickson and (Mahingan) Decontie,” Beer said.
“He is going to be so good for us. He is so smart defensively and away from the puck. He has a big body and he skates really well. He has good, head-up awareness.”
They weren’t the only Rock players singled out for a little extra praise following the contest.
“I thought we had phenomenal depth tonight,” Beer said.
“The (Eamon) Bollinger, (Maxime) Charbonneau and (Riley) Brousseau line had numerous changes tonight. They were just a little snake bitten.
“Then, we got good mileage out of (Linden) Spencer, (Austin) Holmes and (A.J.) Campbell.
“The forwards did a great job and our back end was very good tonight. They have been kind of up and down the first little bit of the season.
“Tonight (Josh) Anderson and (Ian) Elkins played some really key minutes offensively. (Will) Caston and (Owen) Shier were lights out and then you look at (Alexis) Quane-Arsenault and (Carson) Burlington. They did a great job, as well.
“We wouldn’t have been in the spot we were tonight without the way Masternak played.
“It was a full team effort and I thought everyone did a great job tonight.”
The Rock made some adjustments in practice following Wednesday night’s setback and they seemed to pay off against the Crunch.
“We tweaked a couple of things game-plan wise,” Beer said.
“We wanted to come out with some good energy and I thought we have much better jump than we did in K.L.
“We were able to get pucks behind their defence and establish our forecheck early on. I think that was one of the big keys to our success.
“We made a couple of tweaks later on in terms of how we wanted to play in the neutral zone and some things turned over for us.
“We are a staff that likes to make a lot of adjustments and for our guys to be keyed in and adapt the way they did tonight is a credit to our players. Some teams can’t do that.”
Beer really appreciated the effort put in by assistant coaches James Daschuk and Marc Bisson in preparing the game plan and ensuring the players were up to speed on what needed to be done.
“They did lots of detail stuff on the laptop and the iPad,” he said.
“Beezer had the iPad on the bench and he was helping the guys out. Dazzer went through the power play stuff with all the guys.
“Those two guys are unbelievable. There certainly deserve more credit than assistant coaches get sometimes.”
Masternak, who turned aside 29 of the 30 shots he faced, earned the victory — his second of the season — for the Rock.
Wickson, who blocked 19 of the 21 shots the Rock fired his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Robitaille, Seguin and Crunch forward Hunter Buzzi (one assist) … The Rock went 2-4 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Tim Horton Event Centre was 451 … Friday night’s other action saw the Voodoos derail the Espanola Express 6-1 in Powassan and the Thunderbirds edge the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 3-2 in overtime in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will return to action on Sunday when they host the Rapids at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 3 p.m.