Voodoos gun down Rock

POWASSAN – The Timmins Rock put up a valiant fight Friday night at the Sportsplex, but they went on to drop a 4-1 decision to the NOJHL-leading Voodoos.

By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)

POWASSAN – The Timmins Rock put up a valiant fight Friday night at the Sportsplex, but they went on to drop a 4-1 decision to the NOJHL-leading Voodoos.

Rock coach Corey Beer couldn’t have asked for much more from his injury-plagued lineup.

“With the personnel we have in place right now because of the injuries and whatnot, I thought our guys were up to the challenge tonight,” he said.

“Any time you can hold one of the top-scoring teams in the league to five shots against in the first period, it shows you are doing your job.”

With five regulars — including their Top 2 centres (Derek Seguin and Stewart Parnell) — out of the lineup, the Rock held the Voodoos to a 0-0 stalemate through the opening 20 minutes of play.

The home side finally broke through early in the second period, however, and potted a pair of quick goals to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

Rob McCollum got the puck rolling when he beat Rock goalie Tyler Masternak for his third goal of the season and Harrison Israels followed with his 17th goal of the season just over a minute and a half later. Israels goal would prove to be the game-winner.

Masternak, who started the season with the Voodoos, was making his first start in a Rock uniform.

“It was a bit of a revenge game for him, playing against his old club,” Beer said.

“Typically, players play well against a team that released them or traded them away. They usually have a little fire inside their belly.

“We were cognizant of that when we decided to start him tonight, but also Tyler is a very talented goaltender. Despite his age (17), he is very good positionally and he tracks pucks well.

“I thought he battled very good tonight even though we didn’t give him a lot of help on a couple of the goals where there were breakdowns and odd-man rushes, or loose pucks he couldn’t get to.

“For his first game in a Rock uniform, I thought he played great.”

The Rock’s No. 1 puck stopper, Eric Jackson, has played more minutes (1,053) than any other goalie so far this season, so getting him a little rest on the second half of back-to-back games on the road was probably a good idea, as well.

“I like to play Eric as much as I can or until his legs fall off, but I guess you have to be moderate these days,” Beer said.

“It was a combination of getting Eric a little rest and seeing what we have in Tyler and letting him develop, as well.”

Then, Tomas Yachmenev’s 11th goal of the season at the 12:20 mark of the second period increased the Voodoos’ advantage to 3-0.

Just over three minutes later, Tyler Gilberds added his sixth goal of the season to expand the Voodoos’ lead to four goals.

That’s the way the score remained until the start of the third period.

“Things unraveled for us a couple of times in the second period and we didn’t have the firepower to come back on them, but I thought our guys were great tonight,” Beer said.

“They really played their speed game in the second period and maybe sucked us in a bit too much in the neutral zone. We got caught with some sloppy line changes and bad step ups.

“They have a potent lineup if you look at the different guys they have there with players like (Tyson) Gilmour, Israels, Shane Beaulieu. Yachmenev and Dayton Murray on the back end. That team is loaded.

“We tried to slow them down and take away their pace of play and I thought we did that in the first and third periods, but unfortunately in the second period they struck for all four of their goals.”

The Rock got a power-play marker from Jordan Picard, his sixth of the season and first in a Timmins uniform, to cut the Powassan advantage to 4-1 midway through the frame, but that would be as close as they would come to getting back on even terms.

Beer was especially proud of the way the Rock rebounded in the third period after giving up four second-period goals.

“I was incredibly impressed with the way our team battled back,” he said.

“They showed resiliency and we made it a priority for our guys to show we are not a team that is just going to roll over when things get tough. We want to play with passion and intensity all the time and I thought our guys did a phenomenal job in the third period.

“We did everything we could, scratch, claw, whatever, to get back in the game. I loved our compete level tonight.”

Beer was especially pleased to see Picard finally score his first goal in a Rock uniform.

“Anytime a goal scorer is going through a slump, they can breathe a big sigh of relief,” he said.

“Hopefully, it will be just the start of a lot of big goals for us moving forward. If we can get him scoring, it will help everyone.”

Voodoos goalie Graham Dynes stopped 28 of the 29 shots the Rock fired his way to earn the victory.

Masternak turned aside 34 of the 38 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Voodoos forward Tyson Gilmour (two assists), Dynes and Rock forward C.J. Bradburn … The Rock went 1-3 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 0-4 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 240 … Friday’s other action saw the Cochrane Crunch derail the Express 5-1 in Espanola, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners edge the Thunderbirds 3-2 in Sault Ste. Marie and the Eagles blast the Blind River Beavers 7-1 in Sault, Mich. … The Rock will return to action on Wednesday night when they travel to Hearst for a game against the Lumberjacks … The next home game for the Rock will be on Saturday, Nov. 25, when they host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m.