Powassan Voodoos forward Rodion Tatarenko converts on a one-timer to deposit his third of four goals on the afternoon behind Timmins Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy during the second period of Sunday afternoon’s NOJHL game at the McIntyre Arena. Timmins defender Aiden Farr made a lunging, but unsuccessful attempt to intercept the pass. The Voodoos went on to edge the Rock 5-4 in overtime. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS
The Timmins Rock rallied from a two-goal third period deficit only to have their dreams of a fourth-straight victory dashed by Jacob McLellan’s overtime goal Sunday afternoon.
McLellan’s second goal of the season allowed the visiting Powassan Voodoos to escape the McIntyre Arena with a 5-4 victory — their fifth-straight to start the 2021-22 NOJHL regular season campaign.
It was also the Voodoos third win in three tries in a two-and-a-half day road trip through the northern portion of the East Division.
For the Rock, Sunday’s overtime loss came on the heels of a 3-2 win against the Crunch in Cochrane Saturday night and in a contest were they enjoyed a territorial advantage until the end of regulation.
While Rock coach and general manager Brandon Perry was relieved to see his squad salvage a point Sunday afternoon, he certainly wasn’t smiling at the conclusion of the contest.
“I am happy with us tying it up late and getting a point, but it just wasn’t enough,” he said.
“We didn’t have enough guys going.”
Special teams, or perhaps not-so-special teams, played a big factor in Sunday afternoon’s contest, with the Rock going 0-3 on the power play, while allowing the Voodoos to go 2-3 with the man advantage.
“Our PK (penalty kill) was a mess and our power play wasn’t much better,” Perry said.
“It is definitely something we have got to clean up here.”
It was the Rock who got on the scoreboard first Sunday afternoon, as Nicolas Pigeon’s first goal of the season 7:47 into first period staked the home side to a 1-0 advantage.
Just under 10 minutes later, the Voodoos got back on even terms when Russian-born Rodion Tatarenko netted a power-play marker, his first of four goals on the day and second of the season.
The first period ended with the two sides deadlocked at 1-1, but it didn’t take the Voodoos long to pull in front when the puck dropped on the middle frame.
Tatarenko’s second goal of the afternoon and third of the season, also a power-play marker, staked the Voodoos to a one-goal lead.
The Rock answered back less than two-and-a-half minutes later, however, as captain Tyler Schwindt netted his first of three goals on the afternoon and third of the season.
Tatarenko restored Powassan’s one-goal advantage just past the midway point of the period, as he completed his hat-trick, and the Voodoos took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
Tatarenko’s fourth goal of the afternoon and fifth of the season at the 8:06 mark of the third period increased the Voodoos’ advantage to a pair of goals and it looked like the Rock might suffer their first regulation loss of the campaign.
Schwindt wasn’t about to let that happen though and he scored a pair of goals in the second half of the third period — with the second coming with 23.5 seconds left in regulation and Rock goalie Gavin McCarthy on the bench in favour of an extra attacker — to force overtime.
Overtime proved to be all Powassan, however, as the Voodoos outshot the Rock 4-0 with the final shot coming off the stick of McLellan to seal the victory for the visitors.
Perry admitted his squad had few answers for Tatarenko Sunday afternoon.
“He is a good player,” he said.
On the other hand, the coach was at a loss to identify too many players wearing a Rock uniform who impressed him Sunday afternoon.
“Tyler Schwindt, our captain, obviously led the way,” Perry said.
“Everybody else was just passengers tonight.”
Given the Rock were only playing their second game of the weekend, while the Voodoos were playing their third in two-and-a-half days, it would be hard to believe fatigue was a factor for the home side.
“There are absolutely no excuses,” Perry said.
“Everything they got, we gave them. We were just sloppy in our own end, sloppy breaking out, missing assignments on the PK.
“We went over video before the game, knew exactly what they were going to do, but guys were just mentally not dialed in today.”
The coach knows the only thing they can do is put Sunday’s overtime loss into the experience bin, pour through the video, learn from their mistakes and be better next time out.
“The video doesn’t lie,” Perry said.
“We will clean up what we need to clean up and move on to the next one.”
Voodoos coach and general manager Marc Lafleur was happy to see his team complete a tough three-game trip through the northern part of the East Division with three victories, but he was not totally pleased with what he saw on the ice Sunday, either.
“We knew coming in these guys were going to be ready for us,” he said.
“There is a big rivalry between these two teams and I broke down the game last week when they played Hearst. We knew we were going to have to battle to get a good showing, or else we would be in trouble all night.
“Ultimately, I am happy about the six points, but there is a lot of teaching that needs to be done with this young group. Most of our guys are 17 years old.
“So, there is a lot of stuff they haven’t been taught yet. I am happy we have the day off (Monday), but I am not going to take the foot off the gas pedal on Tuesday.”
Like everybody in the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon, Lafleur was impressed with most of what he saw from Tatarenko.
“He is a very special hockey player, but it comes back to what we were just talking about,” he said.
“He is great with the puck, but sometimes away from the puck, he has got to learn.
“He took advantage of his opportunities and he did the exact same thing Saturday night (a 4-3 win over the Lumberjacks in Hearst).
“These were his first two games of the year, too, so not bad for somebody who hasn’t practised in a while.”
Voodoos goalie Alex Bugeja was beaten four times in Sunday afternoon’s contest but his coach agreed he made some timely saves when they were really needed.
“We have got to tighten up defensively and let’s face it they played in our zone for the third period,” Lafleur said.
“He made the big saves when the big moments came, so I don’t look at the stats of him allowing four goals because he made incredible save after incredible save to keep this game alive for us.”
A number of other Voodoos impressed their coach Sunday afternoon, as well.
“Jackson Buffam has been great,” Lafleur said.
“He is a leader and he is reliable. He is the type of player you tell him how to do something once and he is able to comprehend and do it.
“I thought Ryan O’Dell, on the back end, played his best game of the year. He is a sponge and he wants to learn. He is a big body who’s strong and he keeps his game simple. That’s why he is so effective out there.
“McLellan, at the end had the game-winner, but he had about three or four blocked shots for us on the PK, as well.
“Anybody who knows me, knows that is a staple of what I want my players to be able to do.”
Bugeja turned aside 31 of the 35 shots the Rock directed his way to pick up his fourth win of the season.
McCarthy, who blocked 20 of the 25 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.
ROCK 3 CRUNCH 2
Saturday night, blue-liner Tanner Hamilton scored a pair of goals just over five minutes apart in the third period to help the Rock rally for a 3-2 win over the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane.
It was the third-straight win for the Rock to start the regular season.
Even though the Rock emerged victorious Saturday night, Perry was not totally pleased with how things went in Cochrane.
“It was a bit of a frustrating game,” he said.
“Guys need to bury the puck. We had a ton of chances and even at the beginning of the third (Sunday afternoon). Saturday night, we had 60 shots, or whatever the official number was, but that is way too many shots to only score three goals.
“That goalie at the other end iwas good, but he was not that good.”
Veteran sniper Ryan Hunter’s first goal of the season at the 12:07 mark of the opening frame staked the Crunch to a 1-0 first-period advantage.
The Rock were able to get back on even terms prior to the first intermission, however, with blue-liner Riley Dubois netting his first goal of the season.
Hunter’s second goal of the game and season, the lone tally in the middle frame, restored the Crunch one-goal advantage heading into the third period.
Hamilton’s first of his two goals on the night deadlocked the contest at 2-2 at the 12:21 mark.
Then, with less than two-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation Hamilton added his second goal of the night and season to give the Rock their first lead of the contest.
It would stand up to be the game-winner, as the Crunch were not able to get the puck past Rock goalie Konrad Simard in the game’s dying minutes to force overtime.
Simard stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced in his first start in a Rock uniform, earning his first NOJHL victory in the process.
Crunch goalie Michael Nickolau, who turned aside 57 of the 60 shots the Rock directed his way, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars in Sunday afternoon’s contest were Tatarenko, Schwindt and Pigeon, while Hamilton, Nickolau and Dubois were honoured Saturday night in Cochrane … The Rock have traded goalie Tyler Wortman to the PJHL’s Picton Pirates … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena Sunday was 411 … Sunday’s other action saw the Lumberjacks blank the Crunch 6-0 in Hearst, the Thunderbirds edge the Greater Sudbury Cubs 5-4 in Sault Ste. Marie, the Beavers derail the Espanola Express 4-1 in Blind River and the Soo Eagles fly past the Red Wings 5-2 in Elliot Lake … The Rock will travel to Kirkland Lake for a game against the Gold Miners at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex Friday, at 7 p.m. The next home game will see them host the Crunch at the McIntyre Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m.