Timmins Rock forward Harry Clark fires a shot past Hearst Lumberjacks goalie Liam Oxner for what would prove to be the game-winning goal during Tuesday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. Clark’s third goal of the season, late in the second period, put the Rock in front 3-0 in a game they would have to hang on to edge the Lumberjacks 3-2. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
The Timmins Rock hung on to edge the Hearst Lumberjacks 3-2 in the final game of their six-game NOJHL regular-season set at the McIntyre Arena Tuesday night.
With the victory, the Rock (9-3-0) were able to strengthen their hold on top spot in the East Division standings, four points ahead of the Lumberjacks (7-5-0).
To describe the finish of Tuesday’s contest as bizarre might be the understatement of the year.
Leading the contest 3-1, Rock goalie Tyler Masternak was assessed a double minor penalty for spearing with 2:01 remaining in the game, allowing the Lumberjacks to pull their goalie, Liam Oxner, to create a 6-4 advantage.
Then, just over a minute later Rock blue-liner Zachary Fortin was sent off for high sticking, turning it into a 6-3 advantage for the visitors.
That resulted in a scramble in front of the Rock net that ended with referee Cory Hofferd ruling blue-liner Eric Moreau had smothered the puck in his team’s crease, with 39 seconds remaining on the clock.
He awarded the Lumberjacks a penalty shot, taken by Quinton Hill, but Mastenak came up big, making the stop to preserve the two-goal Rock advantage.
Still enjoying a 6-3 advantage, the Lumberjacks were able to net a power-play marker 10 seconds later, off the stick of Jordyn Mughal, his second goal of the season.
Even though they had given up a power play goal, the Rock remained two men short since the first of Masternak’s two penalties had not expired prior to the puck entering the net.
As a result, with Oxner back on the Lumberjacks’ bench in favour of an extra attacker the visitors once again stormed the Rock end enjoying a 6-3 man advantage.
With less than five seconds remaining, the Lumberjacks crashed the net and had two excellent chances, but the final one went wide of the net.
Thinking they had scored, the Lumberjacks protested furiously before finally leaving the ice.
The Rock appeared to be in complete control of the contest through the first two periods of play and the first half of the final frame.
Assistant coach James Daschuk was, for the most part, pleased with the effort he saw from the home side Tuesday night.
“We were pretty solid,” he said.
“We gave up 10 shots in the first two periods, so we were able to shut them down for the most part.
“Even in the first half of the third period, they didn’t have an opportunity to get too much going.
“We were working hard tonight and our forecheck was pretty good, again.
“Obviously, that is the key to our success.”
Captain Derek Seguin got the Rock on the scoreboard first when he netted his 11th goal of the season just past the midway point of the opening period.
He then added his second goal of the contest and NOJHL-leading 12th of the campaign with 3:12 remaining the middle frame.
“He was absolutely flying today,” Daschuk said.
“That line with him, Dicksy (Josh Dickson) and Hanky (Henry Brock), Hanky had a really good game tonight, too. He has been a little bit snake bit so far this season, but he is going to break through.
“On any given night, they are our best line.
“So, it was no surprise that Segsy was red hot again. We come to expect it.”
Less than two minutes later, Harry Clark would score what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his third tally of the campaign, to send the Rock into the second intermission holding a 3-0 advantage.
The Lumberjacks were finally able to get on the scoreboard just past the midway point of the third period, when Tyren Grimsdale netted his third goal of the season.
The Rock appeared to have at least three opportunities to clear the puck out of their defensive zone on the play, but each time it bounced onto the stick of a Lumberjacks player.
“They were starting to get a lot of shots from their defencemen, so we pushed our wingers out a bit there at the end,” Daschuk said.
“We knew we were leaving ourselves vulnerable in front of the net, so if we were going to whack it away, just whack it to the corner.
“We probably had a little less support than we should have, but that is just the adjustment we made.
“Unfortunately, the puck went right to their guy.”
That goal gave the Lumberjacks life and set the stage for the game’s wild finish.
Daschuk was not surprised to see the Lumberjacks stage their late rally.
“That is the type of team they have,” he said.
“They never quit. They were like a bunch of little buzz saws running around there.
“They are a good hockey team and they are well coached.”
The assistant coach was once again impressed with the play of Masternak, who leads the NOJHL in almost every key goaltending statistic — goals against average (1.48), save percentage (.948), wins (seven) and shutouts (one).
“He is the ace up our sleeve,” Daschuk said.
“I think we gave up a sneaky 19 shots in the third period. They almost doubled their shot total in that third period.
“That is the type of person Masty is. He has been back there for three or four years now, saving our butts.
“That’s the luxury of having the best goaltender in the league. When guys make mistakes, when guys take penalties when they shouldn’t, that’s why he is there.
“We are extremely fortunate to have him.”
The assistant coach was again impressed with two graduates of the Timmins Majors’ U18 ‘AAA’ program, as well.
“Clarkie was just buzzing around all over the place,” Daschuk said.
“It seems like he covers a lot of ice. He is always moving really quick and anticipating the play.
“Forgie (Landon Deforge) was great with the puck tonight, too. He seemed very confident and he set up Segsy’s second goal.
“Good for those guys, they are guys who work hard all the time.
“They are two shy young men, so it is good to see them have success. The guys were happy for them.”
Daschuk was impressed with the Rock’s entire leadership group Tuesday night.
“Not just tonight, it seems to be every game those guys do so much behind the scenes that people don’t see to get the guys motivated and help out,” he said.
“Whether it is Segs and Dicksy, or Robi (Riley Robitaille), or Ricky (Eric Moreau) and Forts (Fortin) on the back end, and Masty is part of that leadership group, too.
“They have all been great, since Day 1.
“Schwinny (Tyler Schwindt) was good tonight, too. He had probably one of his better games, lot of chances to score, just couldn’t find the back of the net tonight.”
Masternak turned aside 27 of the 29 shots he faced to pick up his NOJHL-leading seventh win of the season.
Oxner, who blocked 42 of the 45 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Seguin, Oxner and Clark … While he did not see any action, Tyler Wortman dressed as Masternak’s back-up Tuesday night, with Gavin McCarthy getting the night off … The Rock went 0-2 on the power play, while the Lumberjacks were 1-5 with the man advantage … The Rock will now enter their Christmas break and won’t return to action until sometime in the new year.