Rock thump French River

Ri­ley Brousseau leads the way for Tim­mins’ NOJHL team, notch­ing his first ca­reer hat-trick.

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

The first hat-trick of Ri­ley Brousseau’s NOJHL ca­reer helped the Tim­mins Rock shake off a slug­gish start and thump the French River Rapids 8-1 at the McIn­tyre Arena Thurs­day night.

With 16-year-old for­ward Kee­gan McMullen nurs­ing a lower-body in­jury, Brousseau was el­e­vated to the Cam­bridge na­tive’s spot on the Rock’s No. 1 line with cap­tain Derek Seguin and Ri­ley Ro­bitaille.

“It def­i­nitely feels pretty good,” said Brousseau, who had not found the back of the net in his pre­vi­ous 12 games.

“I had re­ally been strug­gling to find the back of the net, but (as­sis­tant coach Marc Bis­son) Beezer de­cided to put me with the big boys.

“I thought we re­ally moved the puck well tonight and I want to thank Segs and Robi.”

Brousseau, whose last goal had come on home ice Oct. 21 against the Powas­san Voodoos, agreed Seguin and Ro­bitaille make it easy for the third mem­ber of the line to find open ice.

“Segs gave me the puck on my sec­ond and my third goals,” he said.

“He def­i­nitely cre­ated a lot of space, which al­lowed me to put the puck in the back of the net.”

Brousseau can’t re­mem­ber ex­actly when he last recorded a hat-trick, but he is pretty sure it came in a game against the New Liskeard Cubs back when he was play­ing in the GNML for the Tim­mins Ma­jors.

Things didn’t start out too well for the Rock Thurs­day night, as the Rapids jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Will Frustaglio’s 11th goal of the sea­son at the 1:30 mark of the open­ing pe­riod.

It took the Rock just 38 sec­onds to get back on even terms, how­ever, as Lin­den Spencer net­ted his third goal of the sea­son to dead­lock things at 1-1.

That’s the way the score re­mained un­til the 5:20 mark of the mid­dle frame when Gage Trem­blay scored what would prove to be the gamewin­ning goal, his first of two tal­lies on the night and sec­ond of the sea­son.

A minute and a half later, Brousseau scored the first of his three goals on the night and sixth of the sea­son to in­crease the Rock ad­van­tage to a pair of goals.

De­fence­man Josh An­der­son then added his fifth tally of the sea­son and the Rock’s third goal in a three-minute span to make it a 4-1 hockey game.

That prompted Rapids coach Paul Frustaglio to lift start­ing goalie Kevin Tardiff, with Mar­shall Frap­pier com­ing on in re­lief.

The new puck stop­per was able to keep the Rock at bay through­out the re­main­der of the frame, but his luck ran out in the third pe­riod.

Brousseau struck for a pow­erplay marker, his sec­ond goal of the night and sev­enth of the sea­son, at the 2:20 mark.

Two-and-a-half min­utes later, he com­pleted his hat-trick as he notched his eighth goal of the sea­son to put the Rock up 6-1.

Trem­blay, at­tempt­ing to keep pace with his team­mate, added his sec­ond goal of the night and third of the sea­son four min­utes later.

Then, A.J. Camp­bell closed out the scor­ing when he chipped in with his fifth goal of the sea­son just past the mid­way point in the third pe­riod to make the fi­nal 8-1 in favour of the Rock.

With coach Corey Beer still away serv­ing as an as­sis­tant coach with Canada East at the 2018 World Junior ‘A’ Chal­lenge in Bon­nyville, Alta., Bis­son and fel­low as­sis­tant coach James Daschuk once again ran the Rock bench.

“Brousseau was a guy who had been strug­gling for us a lit­tle bit of late,” Bis­son said.

“So, we de­cided to give him an op­por­tu­nity and it al­lowed him to play a lit­tle freer, with­out the pres­sure of wor­ry­ing about mak­ing mis­takes.

“He played a great game and Derek Seguin did a great job of set­ting him up. Af­ter Brousseau got his sec­ond goal, he was re­ally look­ing for him so he could get the hat-trick.

“You have to give a bit of the credit to our cap­tain.”

With Brousseau shin­ing on the top line Thurs­day night, will McMullen get his spot back af­ter he re­turns from in­jury?

“He (McMullen) has been play­ing so well of late, that I don’t think he is go­ing to lose his spot,” Bris­son said, with just a tinge of un­cer­tainty in his voice.

“He may have to sit out again Fri­day, which might give Brousseau an­other chance with Seguin and Ro­bitaille to work on the chem­istry they ob­vi­ously had tonight.”

The as­sis­tant coach was pleased with the play of the line of Trem­blay, Matt Capis­ci­olto and Josh Dick­son in Thurs­day night’s con­test, as well, with Capis­ci­olto and Dick­son each pick­ing up three as­sists.

“The other night in Hearst, we put that trio to­gether and there was some im­me­di­ate chem­istry there,” Bris­son said. “We thought about giv­ing Gage a shot on the top line, but we didn’t want to break up that line be­cause they played so well to­gether in Hearst.

“So we de­cided to keep them to­gether and move Brousseau into that spot and now we look like ge­niuses.”

The coach­ing staff did not re­ally im­part any great words of wis­dom on the Rock play­ers dur­ing the first in­ter­mis­sion to in­spire them to turn up the in­ten­sity in the sec­ond pe­riod.

“The mes­sage was just stick to the game plan,” Bis­son said.

“We thought we had a good game plan. Wed­nes­day, we had a great prac­tice and went over a few things we wanted to do to slow French River down in the neu­tral zone.

“There wasn’t any fairy dust, or any­thing else. We just wanted to stick to the game plan and stay out of the penalty box. We took a cou­ple of undis­ci­plined penal­ties in the first pe­riod.”

Bis­son, who coaches the Rock goalies, is quite fa­mil­iar with the work of net­min­der Tyler Master­nak, who this week was named the NOJHL’s Goalie of the Month for the sec­ond­straight month.

“He has been phe­nom­e­nal,” Bis­son said. “I don’t hes­i­tate to say we have the best goalie in the league. I know there are other good goalies around the league, but we gave up the first goal tonight and we knew he has the abil­ity to shut the door and give us a chance to win.”

Master­nak sat out the re­ceent home-and-home se­ries with the Lum­ber­jacks as he bat­tled a cold, but he cer­tainly looked healthy Thurs­day night.

“He felt real good in prac­tice Wed­nes­day and he gave me the thumbs up that he was good to go,” Bis­son said. “He has been tremen­dous all sea­son and the guys are able to play a lit­tle freer in front of him be­cause they know he is go­ing to make most of the saves.”

Three other Rock play­ers also im­pressed their as­sis­tant coach with their ef­fort — es­pe­cially dur­ing the sec­ond half of the game.

“Early in the sec­ond pe­riod, we de­cid­ed­top­utLin­denSpencer,Darcy Haupt and A.J. Camp­bell on their top line of (Philippe) Daoust, (Levi) Siau and Frustaglio,” Bis­son said.

“We told them they had a job to do and if there is one thing about our locker room, the guys em­brace their roles. They know not ev­ery­one can be goal scor­ers, not ev­ery­one can be on the power play.

“We chal­lenged them to shut that line down and it has been a pretty lethal line of late, but those three guys did an in­cred­i­ble job.”

An­other player who caught the as­sis­tant coach’s eye was blue-liner Eric Moreau.

“He was very good back there, right to the end,” Bis­son said. “It was an 8-1 game, but he was still back there block­ing shots, fin­ish­ing checks and do­ing his job. He does it night-in and night-out.”

For the Rapids, Thurs­day night’s con­test was the first game of a three­game road swing through the North that will see them make stops in Hearst Fri­day night and Cochrane Satur­day night.

So, coach Paul Frustaglio was pretty philo­soph­i­cal about the onesided con­test.

“Some­times in hockey things don’t go your way,” he said. “Tonight was that night for us. We were only out­shot 33-27 and they won 8-1. Some­times the pucks go in and some­times they don’t.

“Tonight, we just didn’t get any breaks and that hap­pens. You just pack it in, learn from this and move on to to­mor­row. You can’t drag this out. It is only one game, one loss.”

Even af­ter Thurs­day’s set­back, the Rapids are 6-3-1-0 in their past 10 games.

French River’s game plan head­ing into the con­test was sim­ple.

“We knew we had to work hard,” Frustaglio said. “We had to match their work ethic be­cause Tim­mins is one of the hardest-work­ing teams in the league, if not the hardest.

“We also knew we were go­ing to have to be cre­ative around the net be­cause they have a goalie who is prob­a­bly the best goalie in Junior ‘A’ hockey, not just our league.

“You need to be cre­ative to score on him. You have to work hard and be cre­ative around the net. Then, you can get re­sults.”

The Rapids coach agreed the Rock’s three goals in three min­utes ex­plo­sion in the sec­ond pe­riod was a huge turn­ing point in the con­test.

“They got those three goals di­rectly on three mis­takes by our team,” Frustaglio said.

“You blink twice and all of a sud­den it was 4-1. Then, we went into the third pe­riod with a game plan and we were go­ing to be a lit­tle bit more ag­gres­sive, but it didn’t quite work out.”

With Thurs­day night’s vic­tory, the Rock (20-11-1-0) moved into sole possession of sec­ond place in the NOJHL’s East Divi­sion stand­ings — two points be­hind the Kirk­land Lake Gold Min­ers (21-10-1-0) and two points ahead of the Powas­san Voodoos (19-11-1-0).

Mean­while, de­spite their strong play of late, the Rapids (11-18-21) re­main in last place in the East Divi­sion — five points be­hind the Hearst Lum­ber­jacks (13-12-3-1).

Master­nak stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced to pick up his NOJHLlead­ing 17th win on the sea­son, while low­er­ing his NOJHL-lead­ing goals against av­er­age to 1.99.

Tardiff, who blocked 14 of the 18 shots the Rock di­rected his way, was tagged with the loss. Frap­pier stopped 11 of the 15 shots he faced in re­lief.

NOJHL NOTES — The Daily Press three stars of the game were Brousseau, Trem­blay and Capis­ci­olto ... The Rock did not dress McMullen (lower-body in­jury), for­ward Ea­mon Bollinger (up­per-body in­jury) and for­ward Ben­jamin Jossinet (up­per-body in­jury) ... Rock for­ward Ri­ley Ro­bitaille and Rapids blue-liner Carter Brown were ejected from the game just past the mid­way point of the sec­ond pe­riod af­ter they each re­ceived five-minute ma­jors for fight­ing and game mis­con­ducts.

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Tim­mins Rock cap­tain Derek Seguin ar­rives to help line­mate Ri­ley Brousseau cel­e­brate the first of his three goals dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of Thurs­day night’s NOJHL game at the McIn­tyre Arena. Brousseau’s three-goal out­burst ended a 12-game stretch with­out a goal for the Tim­mins na­tive, who now has eight on the sea­son. The Rock went on to de­feat the Rapids 8-1.

Ri­ley Brousseau

THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS

Luka Bolduc, of the Tim­mins Rock, and Rapids goalie Kevin Tardiff watch a re­bound bounce harm­lessly away from the front of the French River net dur­ing the first pe­riod of Thurs­day night’s NOJHL game at the McIn­tyre Arena. The Rock scored three-goals in a three-minute span dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod and went on to dump the Rapids 8-1.

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