Rock top Crunch

A goal in the sec­ond over­time pe­riod lifts Tim­mins to its first road vic­tory of the sea­son.

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - FRONT PAGE - THOMAS PERRY

COCHRANE — Ste­wart Par­nell’s team-lead­ing ninth goal of the sea­son with 2:09 re­main­ing in the sec­ond over­time pe­riod lifted the Tim­mins Rock to a 2-1 win over the Crunch at the Tim Hor­ton Event Cen­tre Fri­day night.

The vic­tory, the third-straight for the Rock (9-12-0-1), vaulted the vis­i­tors into fifth place in the NOJHL’S East Di­vi­sion stand­ings — one point ahead of the idle French River Rapids (8-14-2-0). And Tim­mins — now only two points be­hind the Hearst Lum­ber­jacks, six points be­hind the Crunch and seven points be­hind the Kirk­land Lake Gold Min­ers — still has two games in hand on French River.

It was the first road vic­tory of the sea­son for the Rock and it left a big smile on the face of coach Corey Beer.

“To do it in this manor and in this rink, which has been a tough one for our club to play in for a long time, and against such a good of­fen­sive team, with a skele­ton squad, was great,” he said.

“This is a tremen­dous team win. I am ex­tremely happy with our per­for­mance tonight.”

Par­nell’s over­time hero­ics would not have been pos­si­ble, of course, with­out the stel­lar play of Rock goalie Eric Jack­son, es­pe­cially dur­ing the game’s first two pe­ri­ods when they were out­shot 33-11 by the Crunch.

“We don’t win this game with­out Eric Jack­son in net,” Beer said.

“It is as sim­ple as that. Some of the saves he made were in­cred­i­ble. He gave us ev­ery chance to hang in this game and win. If we had fallen

down by a cou­ple of goals, maybe we wouldn’t have got­ten back in this game.

“For it to be 1-0 after two pe­ri­ods and know­ing we still hadn’t played our best pe­riod of hockey yet, Eric de­serves all the credit in the world for this win tonight.

“Our guys bat­tled through and gave it their best shot in the third and we got a great goal from C.J. Brad­burn, again.

“Then, in the over­time it was back and forth and you live and die with some of the chances, but ob­vi­ously we got a great goal from Ste­wart Par­nell to end it.”

Nei­ther team was able to find the back of the net dur­ing the game’s open­ing 20 min­utes at it took the Crunch un­til the 13:12 mark of the sec­ond pe­riod be­fore they were able to net the con­test’s first goal.

Mitchell Booth won the face-off and got the puck back to blue-liner Eli Her­nan­dez whose point shot de­flected off Rock de­fender Grant Mc­clel­lan’s stick and over Jack­son’s shoul­der for his sec­ond goal of the sea­son.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it went off Mac’s stick, but he was very apolo­getic.” Jack­son said.

“I just kind of laughed it off, be­cause I knew the team would come back.”

Jack­son knew he had to be at the top of his game Fri­day night given Cochrane’s abil­ity to gen­er­ate of­fence.

“Es­pe­cially on the road, it is im­por­tant not to al­low sec­ond and third chances,” he said.

“It is im­por­tant to limit them to one shot.”

Jack­son has given up just one goal in each of his past three starts and has low­ered his goals against av­er­age to 2.25 — sixth best in the NOJHL. “It is not just my abil­ity,” he said. “Our team has been play­ing re­ally well in front of me this last few games, clear­ing the bod­ies away from the front of the net and al­low­ing only mi­nor scor­ing chances, which makes it easy for me to make the save, con­trol the re­bound and get a whis­tle.

“It has been a re­ally solid team ef­fort.”

Jack­son was one of the NOJHL’S Three Stars of the Week, but he is quick to credit his team­mates for much of the suc­cess he has been able to achieve so far this sea­son.

“Our de­fence and our for­wards have been do­ing a good job of block­ing shots,” he said.

“They have also done a good job of boxing peo­ple out from the front of the net so I can see the puck.”

Her­nan­dez’s goal held up un­til early in the third pe­riod when Rock for­ward C.J. Brad­burn beat Crunch goalie Tay­lor Un­ruh for his fourth goal of the sea­son and third in the past three games.

That goal pro­vided the Rock with a def­i­nite boost and the vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to take the play to the Crunch for most of the third pe­riod, out­shoot­ing their hosts 14-6.

The Crunch re­bounded in the first over­time, with the two sides play­ing four-on-four, but they were not able to cash in on any of their op­por­tu­ni­ties.

When play shifted to three-on­three hockey for the sec­ond over­time pe­riod, the mo­men­tum switched back to favour the Rock, with Par­nell con­vert­ing a setup from Jor­dan Pi­card and Mc­clel­lan to end the con­test.

The Rock game plan was to try and keep the game close, es­pe­cially given they were with­out a num­ber of key of­fen­sive weapons Fri­day night, and Beer was pleased with how his squad ex­e­cuted it.

“The types of long-term in­juries we have right now to some of our key im­pact play­ers, means our of­fen­sive punch isn’t what it nor­mally might be,” he said.

“I thought our APS (af­fil­i­ate play­ers), Ri­ley Brousseau and Fred­eric Le­clair-pouw, were in­cred­i­ble tonight and Con­nor Hoff­mann played on the back end tonight and it was the first time he has ever played de­fence.

“I thought it was a great job from our guys. We just tried to weather things as best we could.

“We did a good job of block­ing shots tonight and keep­ing their chances to the out­side. They are a team that shoots a lot of pucks at the net and looks for re­bounds.”

Fri­day night was a com­plete team ef­fort, but Beer opted to give a lit­tle ex­tra praise to a few more Rock play­ers.

“Up front, I thought Seth Reuben played his best game in a long time,” he said.

“Alexan­dre Bris­son was tremen­dous and Ri­ley Ro­bitaille was solid. Wayne Mathieu was great and Jace Soroko again did all the small things.

“We got so much from so many guys. On the back end, I think all six guys con­trib­uted to the win by just keep­ing things sim­ple and not try­ing to ex­pand theirgames.will Cas­ton, a 16 year old, played 30 min­ute­stonight. I don’t know of too many guys at that age, in his po­si­tion, could han­dle that and be as ef­fec­tive as he was.

“(Cas­ton and Will An­der­son) do such a great job of hav­ing ac­tive sticks and tak­ing away high-risk chances against. They are so good in con­tain­ment.

“An­der­son is a dif­fer­ent kind of beast, with un­be­liev­able foot­work. He closes his gaps off so tight. Will is a lit­tle bit more gritty in the cor­ners. And they both make such great first passes.”

De­spite the loss, Crunch coach and gen­eral man­ager Ryan Leonard was — for the most part — pleased with his team’s ef­fort Fri­day night.

“It was a re­ally fast and ex­cit­ing hockey game,” he said. Beer

“We played pretty much mis­take­free hockey for the first 41 min­utes of the game and then all of a sud­den one of our wingers had a brain fart and put the puck on their stick, and it was in our net, in­stead of stick­ing to the game plan.

“That cost us the hockey game. He had just one as­sign­ment and he didn’t get it done. That gave them the mo­men­tum. Things set­tled down and we started com­ing back at them again, but that’s the way it goes.

“You have to bear down and score on your chances. The shots at one time were 33-11 and Jack­son did his job hold­ing them in there and they got the break. He made some pretty big saves. He made two toe saves he had no busi­ness mak­ing in the sec­ond pe­riod where he got across the crease just in time.

“I thought we de­served the two points tonight.”

Leonard was pleased with the job done by ref­er­ees Dan Ouel­let and Steven Swain Fri­day night.

“It was prob­a­bly one of the best ref­er­eed hockey games I have seen in this build­ing in a long time,” he said.

“They let the kids play and it was a good, hard-hit­ting game. There wasn’t any crap after the whis­tle be­cause the guys let them play all night.

“It was a nice game all the way around and the kind of ex­cit­ing hockey fans want to come and see.”

Leonard was again pleased with the ef­fort put forth by Crunch cap­tain Con­nor Lovie.

“He was an an­i­mal out there again tonight,” he said.

“Eli Her­nan­dez, our new de­fence­man, was re­ally good, as well, and so was (Austin) Whe­lan.

“Un­ruh did his job when he was called upon and I thought all of our for­wards played well un­til we started tak­ing a cou­ple of shifts off at the start of the third pe­riod.

“Some guys weren’t men­tally pre­pared to start the third pe­riod.”

Leonard can take some con­so­la­tion out of the fact the Crunch were able to pick up a sin­gle point in Fri­day night’s de­feat.

Jack­son blocked 42 of the 43 shots he faced to pick up sev­enth win of the sea­son for the Rock.

Un­ruh turned aside 27 of the 29 shots the Rock fired his way and was tagged with the loss.

NOJHL NOTES — The three stars of the game were Par­nell, Her­nan­dez and Jack­son ... The Rock did not dress for­wards Derek Seguin (frac­tured jaw) and Evan Ken­tish-stack (up­per-body in­jury), or de­fence­men Jared Hester (lower-body in­jury), James Red­mond (up­per-body in­jury, lower-body in­jury) and Con­nor Losen (healthy scratch) ... Both the Rock and the Crunch went 0-3 on the power play ... Of­fi­cial at­ten­dance at the Tim Hor­ton Event Cen­tre was 372 ... The Rock will re­turn to ac­tion on Thurs­day night when they take on the Rapids in French River. 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.

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Cochrane Crunch goalie Tay­lor Un­ruh watches a shot from Tim­mins Rock for­ward Jace Soroko, right, sail just wide of the post dur­ing the first pe­riod of Fri­day night’s NOJHL game at the Mcin­tyre Arena. Also fol­low­ing the path of the puck are Crunch blue-liner Noah Ben­nett and Rock for­ward Ste­wart Par­nell. The Rock went on to score a 2-1 dou­ble over­time vic­tory over the Crunch, thanks to Par­nell’s team-lead­ing ninth goal of the sea­son. It was the third-straight vic­tory for the Rock, who leapfrogged the French River Rapids for fifth place in the East Di­vi­sion stand­ings.

Jack­son

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