The Timmins Rock grasped defeat from the jaws of victory Thursday night at the McIntyre Arena — thanks in large part to a penalty taken 200 feet from their own net while they were on the power play.
Leading the Powassan Voodoos 2-1in the showdown for top spot in the NOJHL’s overall standings, the Rock had the man advantage and appeared to be pressing for an insurance marker early in the third period.
That all changed, however, when Rock forward Phil Caron took an interference penalty in the offensive zone.
Following the penalty call, the face-off was held in the Rock zone with the two teams playing four-on-four.
The Voodoos won the draw, with the puck going out to the point where blue-liner Eric Mondoux walked the line before drilling a shot past Timmins goalie Tyler Masternak for the game-tying marker, his fifth goal of the campaign.
Then, to add insult to injury, with Caron still in the box and the Voodoos now on the power play, Jacob Peterson-Galema struck for the game-winning goal, his sixth tally of the season.
To say Rock coach Corey Beer was unimpressed might be the understatement of the year.
“Our attention to detail was really bad tonight, really bad,” he said.
“And it was all stuff we stressed this morning during the pre-game skate and then before the game, as well.
“Discipline was a huge factor.”
Things actually started out on the right foot for the Rock Thursday night, as they built up a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals scored less than two minutes apart before the opening period was 10 minutes old.
Josh Dickson got the puck rolling when he scored his team-leading 24th goal of the season at the 7:53 mark.
Gabinien Kioki then followed with a power-play marker, his eighth goal of the season and second in a Rock uniform.
Unfortunately for the home side, they were unable to take that two-goal margin into the first intermission, as Joe Whittet found the back of the net for his 18th goal of the season, a power-play marker, to cut the Rock lead in half with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the frame.
Both teams generated a number of scoring chances in the second period, but when the buzzer sounded to end play in the frame the Rock continued to enjoy a 2-1 advantage.
“I thought during the first 12 minutes tonight we executed the game plan to a tee,” Beer said.
“We were precise with all the stuff we put in and tried to game plan for, but then, after that point, the players decided they were going to try and win it themselves and you saw the results.”
Beer and his fellow coaches felt they had a solid game plan to keep the Voodoos off stride.
“Shift management was a big one,” he said.
“We really felt if we were good on our shift length and even within shift management, taking care of the puck in certain areas, but we had a player late in the second period, late in his shift went up and tried a toe-drag at the offensive blue-line, turned the puck over and it went the other way.
“You go out, try to win a face-off, got to take care of the D Zone, jump three going forward and it ends up in the back of our net.
“Shift management was not good tonight. Attention to detail was not good and we had no fight back.
“It was a pretty frustrating loss to be quite honest.”
Perhaps if the Rock had been able to add a third goal before the Voodoos got on the scoreboard they might have earned a different fate.
“Maybe we could have grinded it out and tried to get to the end of the period,” Beer said.
“Even when it was 2-1, there was just no bounce back or fight from us. It was like ‘Oh well, here they come.’
“There just isn’t much resiliency right now and our players don’t want to battle through too much right now. I think that was evident the other night in Cochrane and it was evident again tonight.”
Clearly the bounces were not going the Rock’s way Thursday night, but Beer was not about to use that as an excuse.
“It may sound a bit cliché, but I think you have to work for your bounces,” he said.
“I didn’t like our speed on the puck, either. Sure, the puck is bouncing but if you attack it with speed, you can still get the fortunate kick. There was just no speed from us and we weren’t winning any secondary battles.
“It was a very bad hockey game from our team.”
Very few Rock players impressed Beer during Thursday night’s setback.
“Derek Seguin, Josh Dickson and Tyler Masternak, those three were incredible,” he said.
Cameron Kosurko, who left the game with an upper-body injury, also caught his coach’s eye.
“It is too bad, because he was among the players who were going tonight,” Beer said.
“That whole line was outstanding. When we lost him … imagine that, you lose a 16 year old and you lose half your heart beat out there.
“We will have to see how he is, but that was a big loss for us tonight.”
Voodoos coach Max Gavin was happy to see his squad bounce back and grab two points in the first of three-straight road games through the northern part of the East Division.
“Our goaltender (Owen Say) played incredible and gave us a chance to be in the game,” he said.
“We are not anywhere without him, for sure.
“Second off, we know we have talent in our lineup and if we can just get that one goal, we know we can continue to roll after that.
“The boys were confident, knowing we could come back.”
The Voodoos also made good use of their size and physicality in the contest.
“They (the Rock) like to activate their D a lot and have a lot of movement in the O Zone,” Gavin said.
“Corey does a great job implementing their offensive system and we know that, so it was just a matter of trying to limit their prime scoring opportunities.
“We let them play a bit on the outside while trying to take away the inside of the ice. It is pretty basic, but with a good team like theirs, you have to do it.”
The Voodoos did a good job of clogging up the passing lanes and anticipating where the Rock were going to try and go with the puck Thursday night.
“When you play a team enough, just like they were doing to us, as well, they were doing a good job against our power play, and for our guys, we did pre-scouts and saw a couple of things we could exploit,” Gavin said.
“A lot of it too, is just the players out there reading it on their own. They did a really good job anticipating plays.”
In addition to Say, a number of Voodoos impressed their coach Thursday night.
“I thought Tomas Yachmenev, Parker Bowman, Gregory Trudeau-Paquet and Brett Shawana all played well,” Gavin said.
“I could go on … Sam Ellwood … I could literally say our whole team, so it is not fair to just mention a few.
“Honestly, everyone pitched in tonight. I thought Riley Pitt played his best game of the year. He didn’t look like a 16 year old tonight.
“He really did a great job and used his size tonight.”
Say turned aside 33 of the 35 shots the Rock directed his way to pick up his 25th win over the season.
Masternak, who stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced, was tagged with the loss.
NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Mondoux, Seguin and Peterson-Galema … The Rock did not dress forward David Laroche (upper-body injury), as well as blue-liners Quinn Schneidmiller (upper-body injury) and Aidan Milne (healthy scratch) … The Rock went 1-7 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 1-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the McIntyre Arena was 982 … The Rock will return to action on Friday when they travel to Cochrane for a game against the Crunch at the Tim Horton Event Centre, at 7 p.m. The next home game for the Rock will be on Tuesday when they host the Crunch at the McIntyre Arena, at 7:30 p.m.