VIDEO / GALLERY: Wells kick starts offence, as Rock end four-game losing skid

Timmins Rock forward Ryan Armitage deposits a backhand shot into the Iroquois Falls Storm net behind goalie Alexis Mongrain during the first period of Friday night’s NOJHL contest at the McIntyre Arena. It was the first of two goals on the night for Armitage and it would stand up to be the game-winning tally as the Rock went on to dump the Storm 8-1, ending their four-game losing skid. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Thomas Perry
The Daily Press/Postmedia Network

TIMMINS – Liam Wells scored a pair of goals and set up another to help lead the Timmins Rock to an 8-1 win over the Iroquois Falls Storm at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

The win snapped the Rock’s four-game losing skid and vaulted them into third place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings.

While one victory does not necessarily cure all that was ailing the Rock during their recent skid, coach and general manager Brandon Perry viewed it as a step in the right direction.

“As a group, I think we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but obviously this feels good,” he said.

“I am happy for our guys, it has been a long couple of weeks for them.”

One of the secrets to the Rock’s success Friday night is they minimized the number of mistakes they made in the contest.

“It was certainly better, a step in the right direction,” Perry said.

“I just liked how hungry we were, trying to be the first guy on every puck, hunting down rebounds, chasing guys down. I just liked our effort. There was a little more urgency out of our group.”

It took the Rock just 31 seconds to get on the scoreboard, with Brant Romaniuk netting a power-play marker, his second tally of the season.

Ryan Armitage then added the first of his two goals on the night and initial marker of 2023-24 just past the midway point of the opening period.

Wells then added the first of his two goals on the night and ninth of the campaign five minutes later.

Down 3-0 after 20 minutes of play, the Storm opted to pull starting goalie Alexis Mongrain to begin the middle frame, with Connor Dunham-Fox coming on in relief.

The moved didn’t produce the swing in momentum the Storm had been hoping for, however, as the Rock pumped four unanswered goals past the new netminder to push their lead to 7-0.

Lucas Lowe got the puck rolling when he netted an unassisted marker, his first goal of the season 4:50 into the frame.

Kaeden McArthur then added his sixth goal of the season a minute-and-a-half later.

Armitage followed with his second goal of the night and season and Wells then collected his second tally of the night and 10th of the season, with the Rock on the power play.

The third period saw Ukrainian forward Pavlo Kobikov, who had set up one of the earlier Rock tallies, collect the first goal of his NOJHL career to put the home side up 8-0 at the 3:20 mark.

That left the only question being whether or not Rock goalie Dryden Riley would collect the first shutout of his NOJHL career five days shy of his 16th birthday.

Unfortunately for Rock fans Joey Blouin spoiled the party when he scored his first goal of the season with 3:43 remaining on the clock.

Not surprisingly, a number of Rock players impressed their coach with solid efforts Friday night.

“Liam Wells has been great (all season),” Perry said.

“He has been one of our bright spots, as of late. He is a really good player and he has a ton of skill, he is explosively strong and he has been doing a great job for us.”

Wells has four goals in his past two games and nine tallies in his past nine contests.

“Ryan Armitage was great, awesome, tonight,” Perry said.

“He is a young kid and I am sure some nights when he is in and out (of the lineup), he probably wants to be in there as much as anybody but he has been super good all season.

“I was super happy for Pavlo Kobikov, as well. I know he is a long way away from home and it is probably a little uncomfortable at times for him, just the new culture and new language and everything going on around him, so it was super nice to see him get one (goal).

“I hope that one feels really good for him.”

Up and down the lineup, the coach was pleased with most of what he saw from his Rock players Friday night.

“I thought Dryden Riley was really solid between the pipes,” Perry said.

“Felix Cadieux-Fredette had a really good game. Harry Clark, Nolan Ring, those guys always show up and give us an honest day’s work, Jaden Lyons, the young kid, Brant Romaniuk had a couple of points tonight.

“I thought Elijah Pool was solid defensively. He is really physical and he threw some big hits out there.

“I thought the young kids, (Sam) Gallagher and (Ayden) Trottier held their own tonight. Zach Secord gave us some honest minutes, as an AP (affiliate player).

“I just thought everybody was good tonight. As a group, I am super proud of them tonight. Hopefully we are going in the right direction and we can keep building from here.”

The Rock will have a full week of practice to get ready for the Blind River Beavers, a team that has beaten them twice in the span of five days.

“It is just habits, every time we practice, every time we play games, regardless of circumstance, we have got to get on the same page and do things right, all the time,” Perry said.

Just 11 games into the 2023-24 campaign, Wells is now just six goals shy of his personal-best in the NOJHL, set during the 2022-23 season.

“I think just shooting the puck,” he said, when asked about the secret to his impressive offensive numbers.

“I started shooting it and they have been going in, so I have continued to do it. If it keeps working, I will keep doing it.”

During his first two seasons in a Rock uniform, Wells was better known for his intense forechecking abilities and delivering big open-ice hits.

“It definitely helps me get the puck back when they (opponents) have it, but I try not to take myself out of the play too much, just hit when it’s there,” he said.

Wells played on a line with McArthur and Romaniuk Friday night and the trio was certainly effective.

“Those two guys are really skilled players, so if you give them the puck you know they are going to do something good with it,” Wells said.

The Oshawa product indicated Friday night’s victory was even sweeter given it helped the team end a four-game losing streak.

“It feels amazing, nobody likes losing,” Wells said.

“It is definitely good to be back in the win column.”

Riley stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced to pick up the victory.

Mongrain, who stopped seven of the 10 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.

Dunham-Fox blocked 17 of the 22 shots he faced in his 40 minutes of relief.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Wells, Armitage and Kobikov … The Rock went 2-2 on the power play, while the Storm were 0-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 1,068 … Friday’s other action saw the Beavers thump the Hearst Lumberjacks 9-3 in Blind River and the Eagles fly past the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 7-2 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they will host the Beavers at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.


“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel