POWASSAN – There’s no place like home — especially if you have just lost your fifth-straight game on the road.
The Timmins Rock are looking forward to returning to the friendly confines of the McIntyre Arena after dropping a 7-3 decision to the Voodoos Monday night at the Powassan Sportsplex.
By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
Early on, it looked like the Rock might have a shot at upsetting the NOJHL East Division leading Voodoos.
The Rock held a 3-2 lead before the second period was five-and-a-half minutes old — thanks to three power-play goals — but the home side stormed back to scored five-straight goals and earn a 7-3 victory.
“It was a much closer game than the final score would suggest,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.
“I was very impressed and proud of the way our guys competed all night. Our transition game was off the charts tonight.
“At certain points of the game, we wasted no time in the neutral zone, advancing the puck and trying to give ourselves offensive opportunities. Hats off to our defencemen, who were absolutely sensational, advancing the puck and transporting it up ice. They really solidified our game plan.”
After struggling for much of the season to find success on the power play, Beer was happy to see the Rock net three goals with the man advantage Monday night.
“We were bound to crack things open on the power play eventually,” he said.
“We have a lot of talent out there and it was just a matter of getting the right opportunities in the right situations.
“So, it was nice to see our guys capitalize on some of those opportunities.”
Alexandre Brisson’s fourth goal of the season gave the Rock a 1-0 lead at the 3:31 mark of the opening period.
The Voodoos tied things up midway through the frame, however, when Harrison Israels scored the first of his three goals on the night and eighth of the season.
Tomas Yachmenev’s eighth goal of the season 1:34 into the second period then gave the Voodoos a 2-1 lead.
The Rock responded with a pair of power-play goals 46 seconds apart to erase the one-goal deficit and retake the lead.
Defenceman James Redmond and forward Evan Kentish-Stack — each with their first goals of the 2017-18 campaign — supplied the firepower.
The lead did not last long, however, as Kobe Desmond scored his fourth goal of the season just over a minute later to knot things up at 3-3.
And defenceman Dayton Murray netted a power-play marker, his 12th goal of the season, five-and-a-half minutes later to put the Voodoos back in front 4-3 heading into the second intermission.
Murray’s goal spelled the end of the night for Rock starting goalie Brendan Bishop, as Eric Jackson came on in relief.
Israels’ second goal of the night and ninth of the season, an unassisted marker, at the 13:12 mark of the third period provided the Voodoos with a little insurance.
Trailing 5-3, and on the power play, the Rock pulled Jackson in favour of an extra attacker to created a six-on-four man advantage with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation.
The move backfired, however, as the Voodoos netted a pair of shorthanded, empty-net goals to make the final score look a little more one-sided.
Israels, with his third of the night and 10th on the season, had the first of those two goals, while Yachmenev’ second of the night and ninth of the season accounted for the other.
Beer realizes his squad lost to a pretty talented Voodoos team Monday night.
“Beau Moyer has done a great job with that team,” he said.
“Obviously, that team has tons of talent. They do a lot of good things with the puck.
“Playing against them is a good measuring stick for our guys.”
There were a number of Rock players who impressed their coach Monday night.
“Our entire back end, (Jared) Hester and (Grant) McClellan, who played major minutes, as well as (Josh) Anderson, Redmond, (Connor) Losen and (Will) Caston were all sensational tonight,” Beer said.
“They really did a good job of controlling the play and making sure they were able to contribute to the pace of the game.
“Derek Seguin, Wayne Mathieu, Stewart Parnell and Linden Spencer all gave us major minutes up front.
“Evan Kentish-Stand and some of the other guys who played both ways, on the penalty kill and the power play, also played well. I can’t say enough about how they competed tonight.”
The Rock have played five-straight games away from the McIntyre Arena, but technically one of their contests at the NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury was considered a home game.
“A couple of the wins we got early on, we got lucky and now all of a sudden we are playing some of the best hockey we have played all year and we can’t get the only stat that matters — wins,” Beer said.
“If we continue to play the same way we played against Espanola, French River and Powassan night-in and night-out, we are going to give ourselves every chance to win.
“The recipe for success is going to be to stay the course and tidy up a few things, maybe be a little bit sharper in the defensive zone.”
Returning to the McIntyre Arena for games against the Hearst Lumberjacks on Friday night and the French River Rapids on Sunday afternoon should give the Rock a big boost.
“We build off the energy our fans provide in our home rink,” Beer said.
“Obviously, having the last change on home ice will help, as well.
“We are looking forward to getting back on home ice and righting the ship, so to speak.”
With the win, the East Division-leading Voodoos improve to 12-2-0-0 on the season, while the Rock, who sit in last place in the division, fall to 4-10-0-1 on the year.
Voodoos goalie Christian Cicigoi stopped 30 of the 33 shots the Rock fired his way to earn his eighth win of the season.
Bishop turned aside six of the 10 shots he faced and was tagged with the loss for Timmins, while Jackson blocked nine of the 10 shots directed at him in relief.
NOJHL NOTES — The three stars were Israels, Yachmenev and Murray … The Rock did not dress forward C.J. Bradburn (lower-body injury) … The Rock went 3-10 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 1-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance at the Powassan Sportsplex was 156 … The Rock will return to action on Friday night when they host the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.