By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Jake Staples power-play goal with less than a second remaining in the third period lifted the Powassan Voodoos to a 5-4 win over the Timmins Rock Saturday night.
It was Staples second goal of the night and 11th of the season and the victory was the 12th-straight for the Voodoos to start the 2015-16 NOJHL campaign.
“I didn’t even realize how much time was on the clock,” Staples said.
“I was just battling to get in position. I was battling with their centreman off the draw and then I finally got free and the puck seemed to come right to me and I just shot it as hard as I could.
“It was kind of rolling and it went through the five hole and I started to celebrate. I didn’t even know how much time was left. Then I saw the scoreboard had all zeros and I wasn’t even sure at that point.
“Our whole team was celebrating and I just joined in from there.”
Staples has had a hot hand of late for the Voodoos, despite not being one of the team’s primary offensive weapons.
“I am playing on more of a shutdown line,” he said.
“It seems like we are grinding and finding a way to put the puck in the net. We are getting pucks on goal. That is the biggest thing. We are getting it to the net and then we are getting the rebounds.”
Voodoos coach Scott Wray was pleased with the outcome of Saturday night’s game, but thought his team could have played better.
“I am really happy with the outcome, but we were outplayed the whole night,” he said.
“I wasn’t really happy with our effort. They were all over us. They know all the bounces in the rink. It is a great atmosphere and a great place to play junior hockey.
“It just seems like we only played seven minutes of the third. Other than that we played good enough to stay in the game and then we kind of turned it on. The hockey gods were on our side and we found a way to win again.”
Wray was happy with the play of Voodoos goalie Mario Cavaliere Saturday night.
“We couldn’t be doing this (going 12-0-0-0) right now if it wasn’t for our goaltending,” he said.
“Our goaltending has been spectacular. It doesn’t matter who (Cavaliere or Garrett Forrest) we put in net. It’s 1A, or 1B. Those two kids, I think, are the top two goalies in the league.”
Wray also had plenty of praise for Staples and the role he has been playing on the team.
“Staples is on fire right now,” he said.
“Against the good teams he has just risen to the top. He has been getting two or three goals a night and it is unbelievable to watch him right now.”
The Voodoos are undefeated, but Wray realizes that chances of his team winning every game this season are pretty slim.
“I am a realist,” he said.
“We are not going to go 52-0-0-0, but when we get to March, April and May, we are going to have to look back to these experiences and know we are never out of a game.”
The Voodoos, who have now won the first two games of their three-game road trip, jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead.
Tyler Gervais-Rolfe beat Rock netminder Logan Ferrington for his second goal of the season midway through the opening frame.
Steve Harland potted his seventh goal of the season just 17 seconds later to make it a 2-0 hockey game.
The Rock were able to battle back and tie things up at 2-2 before the end of the period, however.
Bain Cunningham’s sixth goal of the season, on the power play, got the ball rolling for the home side.
Ryan Theriaultֹ’s eighth goal of the season with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period got the Rock back on even terms.
Jordan Rendle then put the Rock up 3-2 at the 3:35 mark of the second period when he netted his 10th goal of the season.
Rendle suffered a lower-body injury on the play, however, and had to be helped off the ice.
Staples first goal of the game and 10th on the season with less than two minutes to play in the second period tied things at 3-3 for the Voodoos.
Aaron Dart’s second goal of the game then put the visitors in front 4-3 at the 8:13 mark of the third period.
Theriault’s second goal of the game and ninth of the season got the Rock back on even terms at 4-4 with just 3:11 remaining in the frame.
It appeared the two sides would head to overtime to settle things, but Rock captain Kealey Cummings was assessed a slashing penalty that left many of the 589 fans in attendance shaking their heads.
That set the stage for Staples last second heroics that sent the fans home in disbelief.
Rock assistant captain Tristan Salesse was ejected from the game for arguing that time had expired before the puck entered the net.
“It was a great, entertaining game,”
“All game long, you saw the guys fighting for the puck and you could hear the sticks slashing and banging. You didn’t even hear the last one on our penalty because it was a little tap on the frigging pants. All game it was great and then he decides to call that?
“I don’t understand why and he is a good referee.”
It was the second heart-breaking loss of the season for the Rock, who gave up a goal to the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie with just 15 seconds remaining to suffer another one-goal setback.
“We had our opportunities,” Gagne said.
“We had three three-on-ones. We gave away some opportunities but both teams played great hockey. It was a good, entertaining game.
“If we had been able to go into overtime you never know what could have happened. And we had momentum, then we got a penalty with 1:30 to go.
“I didn’t boo the referee, but I heard a lot of fans who were not happy with the referee. I was fine.”
Even more concerning than the loss of points Saturday night, was that Rendle was not able to return after getting injured in the second period.
“He is going to have to get it diagnosed,” Gagne said.
“Losing him early in the game was a tough loss for us, for sure. Hopefully, it is not too serious.”
Gagne was impressed with the play of a number of Rock players Saturday night.
“Theriault played really well tonight and our goalie (Ferrington) played really well,” he said.
“(Devin) Panzeca played an excellent game and the young Bain Cunningham just did his job out there. He had two or three good opportunities.
“And (Zachary) Kercz’s line (with Salesse and Theriault) put in a good effort.
“Even young (Tyler) Romain stood out tonight. Offensively he was a threat and had some great opportunities.”
Voodoos goalie Cavaliere made 38 saves to earn the victory, while Ferrington blocked 33 of the 38 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL Notes — The Rock went 1-4 with the man advantage, while the Voodoos were 1-4 on the power play … Official attendance was 589 … The Rock have traded defenceman Tyler Somers to the Blind River Beavers in a straight cash transaction … Saturday’s other NOJHL action saw the Cochrane Crunch blast the Eskis 7-1 in Iroquois Falls, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners double the Eagles 6-3 in Sault, Mich., the Elliot Lake Wildcats defeat the Rapids 4-2 in French River and the Rayside-Balfour Canadians thump the Beavers 9-2 in Blind River … The Rock’s next three games will be on the road as they travel to Espanola to meet the Express Friday night, to Rayside-Balfour to take on the Canadians Saturday night and then visit Kirkland Lake to face off against the Gold Miners Thursday, Nov. 5. Their next home game at the McIntyre Arena will be on Saturday, Nov. 7, when they host the Soo Thunderbirds … The Voodoos will conclude their three-game road trip in Iroquois Falls for a game against the Eskis Sunday at 2 p.m.