Rock rum­ble past Rapids

Bal­anced at­tack sees eight dif­fer­ent Tim­mins skaters find back of net against French River

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - SPORTS - THOMAS PERRY

Tim­mins Rock coach and gen­eral man­ager Paul Gagne jug­gled his lines Mon­day night, re­sult­ing in the vis­it­ing French River Rapids get­ting bounced 8-3 at the Mcin­tyre Arena.

“Our sec­ond line, which was (Wayne) Mathieu, (Tyler) Ro­main and (Ni­cholas) Hway, were on the ice for five or six of our goals,” he said.

“They re­ally turned it on and that made a big dif­fer­ence. Mix­ing the lines seemed to give ev­ery­body a lit­tle ex­tra life.

“We needed some more pro­duc­tion from our first line and our sec­ond line and we got it tonight.

Ro­main fin­ished with a goal and four as­sists, while Mathieu had a goal and three helpers.

With Mathieu drop­ping down from the first line to the sec­ond and Cory Sprague side­lined with an up­per-body in­jury, cap­tain Jor­dan Ren­dle was joined on the first line by Bain Cun­ning­ham and Ja­cob Shankar.

The one line Gagne did not tin­ker with Mon­day night was the third unit fea­tur­ing Alexan­dre Bris­son, Ste­wart Par­nell and Cole Gil­li­gan.

“They put on an­other sem­i­nar tonight,” he said. “It was just in­cred­i­ble.” With newly ac­quired for­ward Maxime Lague not avail­able, the Rock used af­fil­i­ates Evan Ken­tish­stack and Seth Rueben, from the Tim­mins Ma­jors, up front.

“They fit right in and they had some good chances,” Gagne said.

“Evan could have had two goals tonight.”

Play­ing the first game of four in seven nights, the coach opted to go with Jeff Veitch in goal in place of Al­bert Rogers Mon­day night.

“I thought the last game we played in Kirk­land Lake, Rogers played ex­cel­lent, but we have seen him play bet­ter,” Gagne said. “And we wanted to get Jeff some ac­tion. We don’t want him to get stale sit­ting on the bench, plus we have a lot of games ahead of us.”

The Rock pounced on the Rapids early and built up a 3-0 first-pe­riod lead while out­shoot­ing the vis­i­tors 26-3 dur­ing the open­ing 20 min­utes of play.

Hway, pro­moted to the sec­ond line, got the puck rolling when he beat Rapids goalie Kor­lan Vader for his fourth goal of the sea­son at the 5:43 mark of the open­ing frame.

Ren­dle in­creased the Rock ad­van­tage to two goals when he net­ted his 23rd goal of the sea­son just un­der three min­utes later.

De­fence­man Bren­dan Campbell added his third goal of the sea­son, a power-play marker, five-and-ahalf min­utes later to send the Rock to the dress­ing room for the first in­ter­mis­sion with a 3-0 lead.

Fel­low blue-liner James Waiter scored his third goal of the sea­son 3:26 into the sec­ond pe­riod to in­crease the Rock lead to four goals.

It took the Rapids just 24 sec­onds to re­spond, how­ever, as Chris­tian Gau­dreau beat Veitch for his eighth goal of the sea­son to make it a 4-1 hockey game.

Then Austin Hick­ner added his fourth goal of the sea­son 12 min­utes later to pull the Rapids to within a pair of goals.

That would be as close as the vis­i­tors would come to get­ting back on even terms, how­ever.

Ro­main struck for his 23rd goal of the sea­son just over a minute af­ter Hick­ner’s goal to put the Rock in front 5-2 head­ing into the third pe­riod.

With his line ac­count­ing for 11 points Mon­day night, Ro­main agreed there was in­stant chem­istry among the trio.

“We were click­ing tonight and find­ing each other out there,” he said.

“Wayne and Nick both played great games tonight. Nick knows what he has to do when he is out there and we were talk­ing all game about stuff to work on and he was ready for the task.”

Ro­main knew the Rock could not give any more ground af­ter the Rapids had bat­tled back to make it a 4-2 hockey game.

“We knew we had to keep things sim­ple and we couldn’t give them any more life,” he said.

“Get­ting that fifth goal was big and we knew what we had to do out there. We had to keep the puck down low and work it down low. When we cy­cle the puck, we are a pretty hard team to stop.”

De­fence­man Pa­trick Gazich scored his fourth goal of the sea­son 3:13 into the third pe­riod to put the Rock in front 6-2.

Mathieu then added his 15th goal of the sea­son to in­crease the home side’s ad­van­tage to five goals.

Bris­son net­ted his 14th goal of the sea­son, a power-play marker, just over three min­utes later to make it an 8-2 hockey game.

It ap­peared that would be the way the con­test would end, but Wil­liam Michaud beat Veitch for his sec­ond goal of the sea­son, a power-play marker, with just 20 sec­onds re­main­ing on the clock to make the fi­nal 8-3.

Gagne was im­pressed with how the Rapids kept com­ing, even af­ter they fell be­hind by six goals.

“I have to give them credit,” he said.

“They re­ally work hard and they make things hap­pen. You could tell it was hard on their morale, but their goal­tender made some in­cred­i­ble saves or it would have been a lot more than eight goals against.

“There was one play where Par­nell made a pass across to Bris­son and he came across so quickly it was amaz­ing. He is a nice lit­tle goalie.”

Rapids as­sis­tant coach De­nis Com­manda was not too dis­ap­pointed in his team’s ef­fort Mon­day night — es­pe­cially given that it was the Rapids’ third game in three nights and that they have been rav­aged of late by the in­jury bug.

“We did fairly well con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of in­juries we sus­tained,” he said.

“I think the sched­ule wore our guys out a lit­tle bit. We played a good game in Cochrane (a 2-1 loss to the Crunch Satur­day night) and then we fell 5-3 to the Eskis Sun­day in Iro­quois Falls.”

Com­manda re­fused to spec­u­late about how bad any of the in­juries his team suf­fered Mon­day night might be or how long the play­ers would be out.

“I am not a med­i­cal per­son,” he said. “Hope­fully, they will be OK.” The as­sis­tant coach agreed with Gagne’s as­sess­ment of Vader’s play.

“He played re­ally well for us again this evening,” Com­manda said.

“He played re­ally well for us in the first game in Cochrane, as well.”

Veitch, mak­ing just his sec­ond start in a Rock uni­form, stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced to pick up his first vic­tory with his new squad.

Vader turned aside 47 of the 55 shots the Rock fired his way and was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — With Mon­day’s win, the Rock (22-9-30) were able to close within six points of the Cochrane Crunch (24-10-4-1) for sec­ond place in the NOJHL’S East Divi­sion stand­ings. The Rock have five games in hand ... The three stars were Ro­main, Mathieu and Vadar ... The Rock were 2-9 on the power play, while the Rapids were 1-4 with the man ad­van­tage ... Of­fi­cial at­ten­dance at the Mcin­tyre Arena was 519 ... The Rock will re­turn to ac­tion on Thurs­day night when they host the Cochrane Crunch at the Mcin­tyre Arena. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Tim­mins Rock for­ward Ste­wart Par­nell watches as a shot from the point sails past Rapids goalie Kor­lan Vader, but just wide of the French River net dur­ing an NOJHL game at the Mcin­tyre Arena Mon­day night. The Rock jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then cruised to an 8-3 vic­tory in the first of four games in seven nights. The Rock will host the Cochrane Crunch at the Mcin­tyre Arena Thurs­day night.

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Mem­bers of the Tim­mins Rock, from left, Grant Mcclel­lan, Cole Gil­li­gan and Bren­dan Campbell cel­e­brate Camp­bel­lís first-pe­riod goal Mon­day night at the Mcin­tyre Arena. The Rock scored three unan­swered first­pe­riod goals and went on to de­feat the French River Rapids 8-3 in the first of four games in seven nights. The Rock will host the Cochrane Crunch in the first half of a home­and-home se­ries Thurs­day night at the Mcin­tyre Arena. The two teams will then meet Satur­day night at the Tim Horton Event Cen­tre.

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