Rock sweep the weekend and move up to No. 11 in national rankings
It was another successful weekend for the Timmins Rock, as they were on the road for a pair of games against West Division opponents.
TIMMINS ROCK 10, ELLIOT LAKE WILDCATS 0 (Friday)
The Rock cruised into Elliot Lake for their only visit this season with fresh legs, having not played since the previous Sunday. The Wildcats are having a tough season though and are sitting in last place in the West. The result was never in doubt.
Karter Renouf opened the scoring 1:47 into the first period with a powerplay goal. Josh Dickson scored just over a minute later to put Timmins up 2-0. Defenceman Evan Beaudry scored his second of the season at 11:33, which was followed by Derek Seguin’s 14th goal a minute after that. The Rock outshot the Wildcats 21-9 and led 4-0 after 20 minutes of play.
The onslaught continued as Phil Caron scored on the powerplay 1:41 into the second period. Seguin and Renouf each buried their second goals of the game just a few minutes later. Tyler Schwindt added a powerplay goal at 13:58 of the period to send Timmins to the dressing room up 8-0 after two.
The Rock reached double digits in the third, as Dickson and Caron each scored their second goals of the game.
Final shots favoured Timmins, 71 to 18. Wildcats goalie Jonathan Lemaire was in net for the entire game and finished with an impressive 61 saves in defeat. Rock rookie Vance Meyer picked up his NOJHL leading fourth shutout of the season. The Rock swept the season series with the Wildcats 3-0, having also defeated them at the NOJHL Showcase.
Caron finished with four points, Seguin with three, and two each for Dickson, Renouf, Brendan Boyce, Riley Robitaille, Tyler Gilberds, Jonah Devereux, and Cameron Kosurko.
“We’ve had some pretty good success against them the three times we’ve played them,” said Rock coach Corey Beer. “For us, a veteran laden team, very offensive, it was just one of those nights where their goalie didn’t have much help. Those nights happen.”
TIMMINS ROCK 2, BLIND RIVER BEAVERS 1 (Saturday)
Less than a week after defeating the Beavers 5-0 at home, the Rock visited Blind River for a Saturday night showdown with the West Division frontrunners who have only lost two home games in regulation this season.
Renouf again opened the scoring with his 13th goal of the season at 13:17. It would be the only scoring of the opening period.
Riley Brousseau scored at 8:38 of the second period, his first goal since returning to the lineup after a lower body injury, to put Timmins up 2-0.
But the NOJHL’s leading scorer and Beavers captain Caleb Serre scored his 29th of the season on the powerplay with under four minutes left in the second to cut the lead in half.
The third period saw the Beavers outshoot the Rock 19 to 6, and outshot them 47 to 37 overall, but they were unable to find the equalizer.
“It was one of those games where probably neither team got the offensive looks they wanted, and I think it was because both teams played so good away from the puck that night. It was tight checking. There wasn’t much room to be creative. We knew they were going to have their best game, seeing as how the last game was a little bit lopsided for us at home,” said Beer.
Rock netminder Tyler Masternak was outstanding, stopping 46 of the 47 shots he faced to pick up his 10th win of the season.
“Masternak was great all night long. I really credit our whole team for buying in down the stretch.”
Beer is pleased with his team’s ability to prove it can win games in different ways. A true sign of a championship contender.
“We can win whichever way you want. With an offensive output against Elliot Lake, or with good two-way and defensive hockey against Blind River. I think its a big step forward for our whole club.”
With the win, the Rock are now a perfect 11-0 against West Division opponents this season.
The team is now healthy, as well as highly successful, and it is becoming very difficult for Beer to fill out his lineups each game. The team has an abundance of quality players who are deserving of adequate ice time. It is what you would call “a good problem to have.”
“Its not easy right now. There’s a lot of guys that a really good hockey players, who play the right way, the way we’ve been asking them to, and some nights there’s guys out of the lineup based on a numbers game,” said Beer.
On Friday it was forwards David Laroche, Riley Brousseau, and Stewart Parnell, along with defenceman Owen Shier who were healthy scratches. Those four players returned to the lineup on Saturday, switching places with Linden Spencer, Kain Harrietha, Rhys Chiddenton, and Aidan Milne.
“It’s very hard to look a 16- to 20-year-old kid in the eye and say ‘listen, you’re playing great, but you’re not in tonight.’ Its a really tough situation. But its also a good thing. It shows how much depth we have, and how well are guys have been playing. If a guy isn’t pulling his weight, and he thinks he’s entitled to be in the lineup, there’s guys that are hungry and waiting to take his spot in the lineup the next game. It keeps everyone honest that way. But top to bottom, we’re getting good contributions up and down the lineup. It definitely makes my job tough.”
The Rock are back in action on Tuesday night at the McIntyre Arena as they host the Cochrane Crunch. It will be the first matchup of the season between the rival clubs. Puck drop is shortly after 7 p.m.
“It will be exciting. They’re a team that has been making some good strides recently. They have some really good offensive players, and guys that we recognize, with (Zach) Wickson in net, and Owen Perala has been on fire the last little while. For our guys, we’ve got to get well acquainted with them, we’re going to be playing them a bunch more times in the second half. They’ve been a big rival of ours for years, even before I got here. Its something to get fired up about, I know the fan rivalry is great,” said Beer.
On Monday, the Canadian Junior Hockey League announced its weekly Top 20 rankings. Out of 132 Junior-A clubs, the Timmins Rock are now ranked 11th after a solid weekend. The Powassan Voodoos are the only other NOJHL team in the rankings, but fell from No. 1 to No. 5 after a pair of losses on the weekend.