THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS Powassan Voodoos forward Tomas Yachmenev fires a shot past Timmins Rock goalie Tyler Masternak for the game-winning goal in overtime during the NOJHL contest played at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon. Yachmenev’s goal with 28 seconds remaining in OT secured a 4-3 win for the Voodoos, as they wrapped up a three-game road trip with five of a possible six points.
Tomas Yachmenev’s goal with 28 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Powassan Voodoos to a 4-3 win over the Timmins Rock at the McIntyre Arena Sunday afternoon.
That outcome, combined with a 4-3 shootout win over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians Saturday night, gave the Rock three of a possible four points on the weekend.
As a result, the Rock (2-2-1-0) were able to climb out of the NOJHL East Division basement and move past both the Cochrane Crunch (2-4-0-0) and the French River Rapids (1-5-1-0).
Still, Rock coach Corey Beer knows how tantalizingly close that second point was Sunday afternoon against the Voodoos.
“We showed great resiliency in the third period,” he said.
“Our forwards really took over down low. We started playing the right way and I thought we did a good job on net cycle.
“There were a lot of scrappy goals and we showed good character to come back. It was just unfortunate how it ended.
Following a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Voodoos jumped out to a 1-0 lead 12 seconds in the second period on a Joe Whittet power-play marker, his second goal of the season.
Powassan pushed its advantage to a pair of goals with just over two minutes remaining in the middle frame when Cade Herd netted his seventh goal of the season.
The Rock finally managed to get on the scoreboard four minutes into the third period when Derek Seguin scored his fourth goal of the season to cut the home side’s deficit to 2-1.
Then, just over a minute later, Riley Robitaille added his second goal of the season to deadlock the contest at 2-2.
It took the Voodoos just 43 seconds to regain the lead, however, as Herd added his second goal of the night and eighth on the season.
The Rock got a goal from Keegan McMullen, his third of the season, just past the midway point of the third period and the score remained 3-3 after 60 minutes of play.
It appeared fans might be treated to a second-straight shootout, but Yachmenev’s goal prevented that from happening.
Beer was once again impressed with the combination of Seguin, Robitaille and a number other players who were slotted onto the other wing during the contest.
“(Mahingan) Decontie was with them for a while, (Joshua) Kego was there for a while and then McMullen jumped back on that line and scored a goal,” he said.
“Seguin and Robitaille are unbelievable. They are absolute monsters down low. If we had a team like those two, who knows how good we would be?”
The coach was impressed with the way the Voodoos limited his squad’s chances, especially during the first two periods.
“They have a very skilled team and they are very fast,” Beer said.
“(Voodoos coach) Max (Gavin) has them going really well right now.
“Unfortunately for us, we had three defencemen who were really good tonight and three who were awful.
“(Carson) Burlington, (Owen) Shier and (Ian) Elkins were lights out. Their gaps were tight and two of them are 16 year olds.
“The other three, I don’t know what they thought they were playing tonight, but it was an embarrassing effort. They are three veteran guys who basically gift wrapped three or four goals for the opposition.”
Beer chose not to identify those “other three” defenders, but the game sheet has Josh Anderson, Will Caston and Alexis Quane-Arsenault listed among the six Rock defencemen dressed for the contest.
Heading into the weekend, coming off back-to-back losses to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, Beer would have settled for a split of the two games, so getting an extra point is a bonus.
“In was nice to see us round back into form,” he said.
“We still have a lot of things to tidy up, but getting three of a possible four points is certainly big for us.”
Sunday’s contest was the first meeting of the two teams since the Rock eliminated the Voodoos — the No. 5-ranked team in Canada — in the East Division semi-finals.
“This year’s team is very similar,” Beer said.
“They have good structure and good pace. It is funny, but he name bars on the back of their jerseys change, but somehow they play the exact same way.”
Voodoos coach Max Gavin — son of former NHL forward Stewart Gavin —was pleased to see his squad wrap up a three-game weekend trip that also saw them edge the Crunch 3-2 in Cochrane Friday night and then drop a 3-2 overtime decision.
“You have to give Timmins a lot of credit,” he said.
“They came out in the third period ready to go. They wanted this game and they pushed us to the limit.
“I have to give a lot of credit to our goaltender, Joe Vrbetic. He played a hell of a game.
“Sometimes it is not pretty, but when you find ways to win early in the season with a young team, it is a good sign.”
According to the coach there was no big secret about what the Voodoos were doing to keep the Rock off balance early in the contest.
“It may sound a little cliché, but we were keeping things simple,” Gavin said.
“We were just getting pucks to the net and forechecking well.
“In the third period, I thought we sat back a little bit and we were a little too tentative.
“Timmins wanted to win and we were just holding on.”
A number of Voodoos impressed their coach with their effort in Sunday’s victory.
“Cade Herd really stepped up his game tonight,” Gavin said.
“I thought (Jacob) Peterson-Galema, as a rookie, really stepped up, as well. Ryan Rivet, Brett Shawana, Ryan Mills, Yachmenev and (William) Petrie, all our penalty killers were really big for us at the end.”
Heading into the weekend road trip, Gavin would have been happy to see his squad win two of three games, but he didn’t tell his players.
“If you got 2-1 on a three game swing, especially your first one where a lot of these guys haven’t done it before, that’s a good road trip,” he said.
“We got five out of a possible six points this weekend, even though we made things a little difficult on ourselves.
“You have to be happy with that when you have a young group.”
The Voodoos (7-0-1-0) are heading home with a seven point lead on the Gold Miners (4-1-0-0) atop the East Division standings.
Vrbetic turned aside 31 of the 34 shots the Rock directed his way to earn the victory for the Voodoos.
Rock netminder Tyler Masternak, who blocked 20 of the 24 shots he faced, was tagged with the overtime loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Herd, Seguin and Robitaille … The Rock went 0-3 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 1-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 711 … Rock forward Linden Spencer left the contest after taking a stick to the face and did not return … The Rock did not dress defenceman Luka Bolduc (healthy scratch), forward A.J. Campbell (healthy scratch), forward Stewart Parnell (upper-body injury), forward Maxime Piquette (healthy scratch) and defenceman Eric Moreau (healthy scratch) … Sunday’s other action saw the Soo Eagles blank the Beavers 3-0 in Blind River and the Thunderbirds edge the Elliot Lake Wildcats 4-3 in Sault Ste. Marie … The Rock will travel to Kirkland Lake for a game with the Gold Miners on Wednesday night and then visit Cochrane where they will take on the Crunch Friday night. The next home game will be on Sunday when they will host the French River Rapids at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 3 p.m.