SUDBURY — The Timmins Rock rode an early offensive outburst to a 6-2 victory over the Blind River Beavers on the opening day of the NOJHL Showcase at the Countryside Sports Complex Tuesday.
Three goals on six shots in the game’s first 6:06 chased Beavers starting goalie Thomson Phinney from the Blind River crease.
“We definitely came out with good jump,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.
“We were opportunistic on a couple of the goals. We have been trying to pound our system into our guys here, the style we want to play and how we want to attack — and also defend.
“It think on all three of the goals it was a direct result of the things we have been preaching, hitting the seams on offensive zone entries, good neutral zone defence, forcing turnovers and being opportunistic around the net.
“As a staff, you preach certain ways you want to defend and young kids want to see the results first, so it was great to see us get results.”
Matt Capisciolto got the puck rolling when he netted his second goal of the season at the 1:42 mark of the opening frame.
Keegan McMullen then added his fourth goal of the season three-and-a-half minutes later to put the Rock in front by a pair of goals.
Defenceman Will Caston then made it a 3-0 hockey game when he blasted a power-play marker past Phinney for his first goal of the season.
That spelled the end of Phinney’s night, with Garret Boyonoski coming on in relief for the Beavers.
The goalie change seemed to provide Blind River with a little momentum swing and they were able to get on the scoreboard before the end of the opening period, as Tyler Nott found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
“There is no way you can control 60 minutes of hockey,” Beer said.
“Blind River is too good of a team and they made their adjustments. They battled back after the goaltending change. It sparked them and got them going a little bit.”
Unfortunately for the Beavers, the swing did not carry through into the second period as the Rock outshot them 19-11 and emerged with the frame’s lone marker — defenceman Josh Anderson’s first goal of the season.
“We weathered the storm and then we got back on the horse and got going again,” Beer said.
“It was great to see. For our guys, it is probably the closest thing we have had to a complete 50-minute effort and it paid off with a good win for us.”
Just past the midway mark of the third period, with the Beavers on the power play, they opted to pull Boyonoski in favour of an extra attacked in an attempt to get back into the hockey game.
The move backfired, however, and Capisciolto stole the puck and deposited it into the empty Blind River net for a shorthanded marker, his second goal of the day and third on the season.
Blind River was able to cut into the Rock lead five-and-a-half minutes later when Ryan Mulligan netted his second goal of the season.
That would be as close as the Beavers would come to getting back on even terms, however, as Eamon Bollinger scored a power-play marker, his first goal of the season, with 48 seconds remaining in the contest to make the final 6-2 in favour of the Rock.
Beer was once again impressed with the effort he saw from Capisciolto during Tuesday’s contest.
“Matt is certainly a guy who is very versatile and he can play different positions,” he said.
“He has a big body and he is good on the cycle. He has really come in and wanted to learn the defensive side of the puck, which is great to see from an older player. Sometimes older guys are set in their ways and they don’t want to adapt to change.
“The biggest thing with him is he has been very open and receptive to the coaching we have been giving him.
“At certain points during the game today, it just seemed like wave after wave, shift after shift, we were playing the right way and creating good offence.
“Capy is doing a great job right now and we are very excited for where his game is going to get to in the future.”
Bollinger also made a solid impression on his coach Tuesday.
“He is another guy who has come in with the right attitude,” Beer said.
“He is willing to do the small things to really be effective. He has played some key minutes on the penalty kill and he has been rewarded with some power-play time and he scored a power-play goal today.
“Both Capy and Bolly are such good-hearted people and they come by it honestly. They have done such a good job in terms of being good teammates and they are polite young men.”
Beer was also pleased to see the Rock get some offensive contributions from the back end on Tuesday.
“Will Caston got off a bomb of a shot right off the face-off,” he said.
“It was nice to see. He is a big, rugged defenceman who sometimes doesn’t get the accolades offensively, but he certainly can contribute offensively.
“He is on the one power play and he makes good outlet passes. It is great to see him get shots off.
“Josh Anderson was everywhere on the ice today. He is such an elite skater and puck mover. We have impressed on him to try and move the puck more. The more you are willing to put pucks to the net and activate, be in the right spot, the better your chances of scoring.”
Caston was ejected from the game in the third period after receiving a double-minor for spearing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct following a dust up with Beavers defenceman Alex Engle that saw the Blind River player assessed a two-minute minor for slashing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct.
Both players were also issued one-game suspensions following the contest for being involved in a fight in the final 10 minutes of a game.
Rock goalie Tyler Masternak, who stopped 29 of the 31 shots directed his way, picked up fifth win on the season.
Phinney, who blocked three of the six shots he faced, was tagged with the loss. Boyonoski made 24 saves on 26 shots in relief.
NOJHL NOTES — Capisciolto was named the Rock player of the game, while Nott was named the Beavers top player … The Rock went 2-6 on the power play, while the Beavers were 0-6 with the man advantage … Tuesday’s other action saw the Cochrane Crunch defeat the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-2, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians dump the Hearst Lumberjacks 5-2, the French River Rapids upset the Soo Eagles 3-2, the Powassan Voodoos double up the Soo Thunderbirds 4-2 and the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners derail the Espanola Express 5-0 … The Rock will take on the Wildcats as the NOJHL Showcase concludes on Wednesday.
Photos by Chris Dawson