Masternak led the NOJHL in games, wins and shutouts last year.
The NOJHL’s busiest goalie will be back manning the net for the Timmins Rock when the puck drops on the 2019-20 campaign, the club has announced.
Tyler Masternak saw action in 46 of the Rock’s 56 regular-season contests, racking up 2,610 minutes in the process — more than 100 minutes clear of Hearst Lumberjacks puck stopper Nicholas Tallarico (2,479).
Even more impressive, the 2000-birth-year Oshawa goalie led the NOJHL with 29 regular-season wins — five more than runner-up Colin Ahearn from the Soo Thunderbirds.
Masternak also posted an NOJHL-best six shutouts during the campaign — two more than Kirkland Lake Gold Miners goalie Dawson Rodin.
His 2.51 goals against average ranked him sixth in the NOJHL, while his .907 saves percentage was 15th in the league.
Masternak’s 2019 playoff numbers (5-4, 2.64 goals against, .898 save percentage) were solid, but it appeared his heavy regular-season workload taxed him a bit.
With that in mind, the Rock have added a top prospect to serve as Masternak’s understudy during the 2019-20 campaign.
Vance Meyer, a 2002-birth-year netminder, who split the 2018-19 season between the PJCHL’s Ayr Centennials (2 games, 2.93 goals against, .914 save percentage) and the AHMPL’s Brantford Midget ‘AAA’ 99ers (17 games, 3.60 goals against), was signed after impressing Rock management during the recent prospect camp held in Oshawa.
The Guelph native, who catches left, is 5-11 and 165 pounds.
“Vance is well suited to push (Masternak),” Rock coach Corey Beer said. “He is really talented and he is coming off a real-good season and he even got called up to Junior ‘C’ at the end of the year and put up good numbers.
“He is athletic, technically very good post-to-post, good at challenging and getting out at the top of his crease.
“I believe he only let in one goal during our camp, which is a huge thing considering we had one kid who scored 12 goals during the camp. That was pretty impressive.
“We are really excited to bring in Vance. He is a guy who checks the box in terms of being young, at 17 years old, checks the box in terms of being the goalie of the future for us and checks the box in terms of being talented enough to give us good minutes in net and take a bit of that workload off Tyler.”
Beer knows, of course, when Masternak is on his game, there is no better goaltender in the NOJHL.
“Masty is the kind of guy who could handle the workload, no matter what it is,” he said.
“If we said to him, ‘Hey, you are playing 50 games this year,’ he would have no problem with it, as long as his body could hold up, but the fact we have Vance coming in, and he is a legit prospect, that will help with the workload and will also help develop Vance.
“I still think the best has yet to come for Tyler Masternak. At 18 years old, he did some great things for us this past year. Shutout records, wins, goals against, saves percentage, all those things, he kept getting better and better as the year went along.
“I think this year we are going to see an even more focused and more driven guy who almost doesn’t care about the accolades now.”
In addition to Meyer, the Rock have inked three forwards and a pair of blue-liners.
Ryan Twigg, a 2001-birth-year forward, split the 2018-19 campaign between a pair of PJCHL clubs — the Alliston Hornets (16 games, 1-5-6, 10 penalty minutes) and the Midland Flyers (13 games, 7-3-10, 12 penalty minutes).
Twigg, a Barrie native, is listed at 5-8 and 150 pounds.
“He has a lightning quick release,” Beer said. “The thing we loved about him is he looked extremely versatile in terms of where he can play throughout our lineup.
“He has the skating ability to be a threat offensively all the time. He is going to be up in the rush and making plays, but he looks like he can do all the little things, too, take care of the puck in the protection areas.
“He is pretty good that way and he certainly flashed a lot at camp. He scored a lot of goals during the camp sessions.”
Kain Harrietha (39 games, 0-4-4, 30 penalty minutes), a 2000-birth-year forward, spent the 2018-19 season with the Brantford 99ers of the GOJHL.
The Waterdown, Ont., native stands 5-8 and weighs 154 pounds.
“Obviously, this is a guy you look at and you say, ‘No goals, in 39 games or whatever it was last year,’ but he came to camp and I believe he scored 12 goals in three games,” Beer said.
“He had the puck on his stick the entire time. I think he is just a guy who needs a bit more of an opportunity and to be put into a spot that is going to make him successful.
“If we are asking him to go out there and dump and chase and knock the puck off the sticks of 6-4 defencemen, he is not the guy to do it but you ask him to contribute on the power play and play within a puck-possession system and I think he will succeed.
“I thought hockey IQ wise, he was right up there with our returning veterans at camp in terms of making the right plays and doing all of the small things.
“He really caught the eye of our assistant coach James Daschuk and James told us we had to keep an eye on this guy as camp progressed.”
The lack of production in 2018-19 doesn’t bother Beer in the least.
“We are a group that doesn’t feel like it matters what a player did with another organization,” he said. “If he can make plays in our program, then he will be a perfect fit for it.”
Tyler Schwindt, a 2001-birth-year forward, split the 2018-19 season between the the PJCHL’s Wellesley Applejacks (37 games, 11-13-24, 22 penalty minutes) and the GOJHL’s Elmira Sugar Kings (4 games, 0 points, 0 penalty minutes).
The left-hand shooting New Hamburg, Ont., native stands 6-1 and weighs 170 pounds.
Tarcisius Tibishkogijig, a 2002-birth-year blue-liner, split the 2018-19 campaign between the LJHL’s Thunder Bay Kings (18 games, 2-9-11, 5 penalty minutes) and the NAPHL U18’s Thunder Bay Kings (20 games, 1-5-6, 12 penalty minutes).
At 6-2 and 216 pounds, the Thunder Bay native brings plenty of size to the Rock’s back end.
“He is very smooth on his feet,” Beer said. “He has terrific edge work and he is a guy who right now, at 17 years old, we are not going to have to ask too much of him. He is going to be able to come in and give us relief on the power play and make all the plays.
“I was blown away with his first pass ability at our camp. In the skills sessions, his puck retrievals on dump ins, to be able to go back and make the right play was great.
“He is very engaging to talk with. He has all the types of qualities we want in a player.
“You look at his long-term future and what he is going to be able to accomplish at the Junior ‘A’ level for us and we are very excited to bring him into our program.
Beer sees a lot of similarities in Tibishkogijig’s game and that of former Rock blue-liner Jared Hester.
“From the smoothness of the skating ability and just the ability to walk the offensive blue-line and make plays, his calmness with the puck, there are a lot of similarities,” Beer said.
Aidan Milene (39 games, 0-3-3, 14 penalty minutes), a 2002-birth-year left-hand shooting blue-liner, comes to the Rock from the PJCHL’s Burford Bulldogs.
The Cambridge native stands 6-1 and weighs 196 pounds.
NOJHL NOTES —Tickets for the Timmins Rock’s third-annual NHL fundraiser are going quickly. Guests of honour for the event being held at the Porcupine Dante Club on Monday, June 24, are former NHL star Doug Gilmour and TSN sportscaster Rod Black. Tickets cost $75 and are available at KIA of Timmins and the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre.
ROCK ROSTER STATUS
Signed: Tyler Masternak and Vance Meyer;
Eligible to return: Jean-Marc Brisson.
Signed: Alec Brown, Tarcisius Tibishkogijig, Aidan Milene, Josh Anderson;
Eligible to return: Eric Moreau, Owen Shier, Gregory Arnbourg, Carson Burlington.
Traded: Will Caston, Luka Bolduc.
Signed: Tyler Gilberds, Cameron Kosurko, Rhys Chiddenton, Ryan Twigg, Kain Harrietha, Tyler Schwindt.
Eligible to return: Derek Seguin, Keegan McMullen, Riley Robitaille, Riley Brousseau, Linden Spencer, Josh Dickson, Gage Tremblay, A.J. Campbell, Darcy Haupt.
Traded: Mahingan Decontie.