Photos: Sudbury Light Event Photography
Captain Tyler Schwindt picked up a pair of assists to eclipse the 100 NOJHL career point mark and lead the Timmins Rock to a 4-2 win over the Cubs at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex Thursday night.
Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
SUDBURY – It was the second-straight victory for the Rock who snapped a four-game winless streak on Tuesday night.
Rock assistant coach Marc Bisson liked what he saw from his squad in the contest.
“We started quick, right off bat,” he said.
“They have a big ice surface here, Olympic-sized ice. We are a puck-possession team. That is one of our strengths and with that extra ice out there we were able to move the puck really well.”
A pair of goals in the first four minutes of the opening period helped the Rock set the tone for the contest.
Tyler Gilberds netted his 10th goal of the season at the 2:04 mark and Christopher Engelbert followed with his 13th tally of the campaign less than two minutes later.
“Our first two goals were really great passing plays,” Bisson said.
“(Riley) Brousseau to Gibby (Gilberds) for the first one, and then the line of Engelbert (Nicholas) Frederick and Gabi Kioki on the second one, a great effort.
“We had a great first period and just built off of that.”
The Rock carried that 2-0 advantage into the first intermission after outshooting the Cubs 13-10 in the frame.
Cole Crowder’s fourth goal of the season 1:10 into the second period got the Cubs on the scoreboard but the Rock, who outshot their hosts 15-4, added a pair of goals in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the frame to extend their lead to 4-1.
Justin Charette netted a power-play marker, his ninth tally of the campaign, and blue-liner Eric Moreau added his second goal of the season with 59 seconds left on the clock.
Charette’s marker, his second tally in as many games, would stand up to be the game-winning goal.
The Cubs were able to close the gap to 4-2 late in the third period, thanks to Pierson Sobush’s 15th goal of the season, but that was as close as they could come to getting back on even terms.
Rock forward Nicolas Pigeon picked up a pair of assists Thursday night to give him seven points in the past two Rock victories.
“He is playing phenomenal hockey right now,” Bisson said.
“He is just taking over games with puck possession. He is so elusive with the puck and the things he does in tight areas.”
Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy also caught the assistant coach’s eye with his strong play Thursday night.
“Gav was absolutely great tonight,” Bisson said.
“We gave up a breakaway during the first shift of the game and he came up with a big save.
“It helped his confidence a little bit and he was very solid for us, kept us in the game.”
There were a number of other Rock players who impressed Bisson with their play Thursday night, as well.
“Juice (Charette) had a good game,” he said.
“He scored that power-play goal with a nice power move to the net. He also had a few other really good shifts.”
It was the second-straight game in which the Timmins native has found the back of the net.
“He is on a hot streak,” Bisson said.
“Frederick has been really good the last couple of games. He is one of our hardest workers and we know what we are getting from him shift-in and shift-out.
“Eric Moreau on the back end contributed with a goal but also played some big minutes defensively against some of their top guys.
“And Schwinny (Schwindt) got his 100th point in the NOJHL tonight.”
Those two helpers gave the captain five points in his past two games, as the combination of Schwindt and Pigeon, playing with Harry Clark, continued its strong play.
“Those two guys have been big contributors to our success this year,” Bisson said.
“Game-in and game-out, we know Pige and Schwinny are going to show up and give us an honest effort.”
Thursday night’s victory provided the Rock with a little revenge for the 6-3 setback they suffered at the hands of the Cubs at the McIntyre Arena on Feb. 21.
“They beat us in our building and we had to return the favour,” Bisson said.
“The guys were definitely primed and ready to go tonight. We had to send a message to them: When they come back to the Mac we will be a different team than the one they saw during that one game.”
With Thursday’s victory, the Rock (27-7-3-1) moved into second place in the NOJHL’s East Division standings, six points behind the Hearst Lumberjacks (31-7-2-0).
And the Rock still have a pair of games in hand on their rivals.
McCarthy stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced to earn his NOJHL-leading 19th win of the season.
Cubs goalie Joel Rainville, who turned aside 30 of the 34 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Pigeon, McCarthy and Crowder … The Rock did not dress forwards Liam Wells (undisclosed) and defenceman/forward Chase Longhurst (undisclosed) … The Rock went 1-7 on the power play, while the Cubs were 0-2 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex was 198 … The Rock will conclude their two-game road trip with a contest against the Beavers in Blind River on Friday. The next home game will be on Friday, March 11 when the Rock host the Espanola Express at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.