The Timmins Rock wrapped up the NOJHL Showcase with a 3-2 shootout win over the Elliot Lake Wildcats at the Countryside Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon.
SUDBURY — The Timmins Rock wrapped up the NOJHL Showcase with a 3-2 shootout win over the Elliot Lake Wildcats at the Countryside Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon.
Combined with Tuesday’s 6-2 win over the Blind River Beavers, it allowed the Rock to collect four of a possible four points during the two-day tournament that saw results count toward the regular-season standings.
The victories allowed the Rock (7-4-1-0) to move into third place in the East Division standings — four points behind the second-place Powassan Voodoos (9-1-1-0) and two points ahead of the fourth-place Hearst Lumberjacks (6-5-1-0).
As one might expect, Rock coach Corey Beer is thrilled with all of those developments.
“It is a little bit different than last year, going home 2-0-0-0 instead of 0-2-0-0,” he said.
The Rock jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Mahingan Decontie’s second goal of the season at the 4:48 mark of the opening period.
Eric Conley’s third goal of the season just past the midway point of the frame got the Wildcats back on even terms, however.
The game remained deadlocked at 1-1 until late in the second period when the Wildcats got the go-ahead goal off the stick of Evan Della Paolera, his first of the season.
The Rock were able to get the equalizer early in the third period when Riley Robitaille netted a power-play marker, his fourth goal of the season.
A five-minute three-on-three overtime period failed to decide anything, leaving the shootout to determine the winner of the contest.
Wildcats goalie Justin Vertesi stopped the first Rock shooter, Josh Dickson, and his counterpart, Nicholas Dicks, denied Conley.
Rock captain Derek Seguin then beat Vertesi and Dicks turned aside a Connor Taylor attempt.
The next Rock shooter, Decontie, was stopped by Vertesi and Dicks then stood tall on the Wildcats final shot, off the stick of Josh Bifolchi, to seal the deal for Timmins.
Dicks has now stopped all six shootout attempts he has faced in a pair of Rock victories.
Beer once again was pleased by the effort put forth by the Rock during Wednesday’s victory.
“Early on today, I thought we had lots of good pressure and lots of good chances,” he said.
“We just couldn’t get that second or third goal to put it away early.
“Elliot Lake is a team that keeps forechecking pretty hard and they were pretty opportunistic.
“Then, we felt we had some good opportunities down the stretch, but their goalie (Vertesi) was full marks. He was outstanding.”
With their two victories at the NOJHL Showcase, the Rock have now won three-straight games.
“The quality of play has been impressive,” Beer said.
“We are not just sneaking by with wins. We are trying to be dominant in our approach and our game plan.
“Obviously, Tuesday was a tremendous win, getting out early and sitting on that lead.
“Today was more of a scrappy, try to claw your way back into the game type of thing. Our forecheck was great both days.
“It is important for our guys to understand there are no easy games. They have to play a full 60 minutes to finish things off.”
The line of Seguin, Robitaille and 16-year-old Keegan McMullen was once again front and centre in this Rock victory.
“That line is arguable in my mind one of the top lines in this league,” Beer said.
“They were incredible and they do it from both ends. They are a line that gets a lot of defensive zone starts and responsibilities in our end.
“The way they hunt the puck and forecheck is pretty damn tenacious, as well. It is impressive for the rest of the team to kind of sit and watch these guys lead by example.
“They are two 18 year olds and a 16 year old and I think we are only starting to see the best of what’s to come for those three.”
Dicks got the start in the Rock net Wednesday after Tyler Masternak had been in the crease for the first two wins of the current streak.
“Being a showcase, you want to give everyone the chance to play in these games,” Beer said.
“It was an opportunity for Nick to get in and get another win under his belt. He was very good in the shootout again.
“There are going to be stretches where he doesn’t get in for a couple of games and Tyler Masternak is going to be the guy we run with.
“It is very important for a backup goaltender, or a guy who is a 1B, to capitalize on wins when he is in there.
“More than his statistical numbers, I think wins are so important for a backup goalie.”
Once again, the blue-line corps turned in a solid effort, with the help of the team’s backchecking forwards — limiting the Wildcats to just 17 shots in 65 minutes of hockey.
“It was not just sitting back and trapping it up,” Beer said.
“It was also our forecheck and our back pressure, being good on our defensive zone exits.
“We talk about team defence so much. If you are on the right side of your man and the puck, you are going to get your offensive opportunities. If you are a team that cheats and you are on the wrong side of the puck looking for stretch passes, more times than not, they don’t transpire.
“For us, our guys are buying a good, overall team concept and it is paying dividends.
“We are getting good offensive opportunities and holding teams to minimal shot attempts. When they do get shots, they are mostly from the outside.
“We try and make it pretty easy on our goaltenders back there and support them as much as we can with the five guys in front of them.”
Like the Beavers, the Wildcats play in the West Division so the Rock only play them a couple of times each season.
“They are a typical (Wildcats coach and general manager) Corey Bricknell team,” Beer said.
“They are hard working, relentless on the forecheck and physical. Their backcheck today caused us a lot of problems.
“We are a team that likes to be creative on our offensive zone entries and their backchecking kind of stifled a lot of those chances. We had to change our game plan a little bit and try to play heavy down low.”
Dicks, who turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, picked up his second win a Rock uniform.
Vertesi, who stopped 30 of the 32 shots the Rock fired his way, was tagged with the shootout loss.
ROCK 6 BEAVERS 2
The Rock rode an early offensive outburst to Tuesday’s 6-2 victory over the Beavers.
Three goals on six shots in the game’s first 6:06 chased Beavers starting goalie Thomson Phinney from the Blind River crease.
“We definitely came out with good jump,” Beer said.
“We were opportunistic on a couple of the goals. We have been trying to pound our system into our guys here, the style we want to play and how we want to attack — and also defend.
“I think on all three of the goals it was a direct result of the things we have been preaching, hitting the seams on offensive zone entries, good neutral zone defence, forcing turnovers and being opportunistic around the net.
“As a staff, you preach certain ways you want to defend and young kids want to see the results first, so it was great to see us get results.”
Matt Capisciolto got the puck rolling when he netted his second goal of the season at the 1:42 mark of the opening frame.
McMullen then added his fourth goal of the season three-and-a-half minutes later to put the Rock in front by a pair of goals.
Defenceman Will Caston then made it a 3-0 hockey game when he blasted a power-play marker past Phinney for his first goal of the season.
That spelled the end of Phinney’s night, with Garret Boyonoski coming on in relief for the Beavers.
The goalie change seemed to provide Blind River with a little momentum swing and they were able to get on the scoreboard before the end of the opening period, as Tyler Nott found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
“There is no way you can control 60 minutes of hockey,” Beer said.
“Blind River is too good of a team and they made their adjustments. They battled back after the goaltending change. It sparked them and got them going a little bit.”
Unfortunately for the Beavers, the swing did not carry through into the second period as the Rock outshot them 19-11 and emerged with the frame’s lone marker — defenceman Josh Anderson’s first goal of the season.
“We weathered the storm and then we got back on the horse and got going again,” Beer said.
“It was great to see. For our guys, it is probably the closest thing we have had to a complete 60-minute effort and it paid off with a good win for us.”
Just past the midway mark of the third period, with the Beavers on the power play, they opted to pull Boyonoski in favour of an extra attacker in an attempt to get back into the hockey game.
The move backfired, however, and Capisciolto stole the puck and deposited it into the empty Blind River net for a shorthanded marker, his second goal of the day and third on the season.
Blind River was able to cut into the Rock lead five-and-a-half minutes later when Ryan Mulligan netted his second goal of the season.
That would be as close as the Beavers would come to getting back on even terms, however, as Eamon Bollinger scored a power-play marker, his first goal of the season, with 48 seconds remaining in the contest to make the final 6-2 in favour of the Rock.
Beer was once again impressed with the effort he saw from Capisciolto during Tuesday’s contest.
“Matt is certainly a guy who is very versatile and he can play different positions,” he said.
“He has a big body and he is good on the cycle. He has really come in and wanted to learn the defensive side of the puck, which is great to see from an older player. Sometimes older guys are set in their ways and they don’t want to adapt to change.
“The biggest thing with him is he has been very open and receptive to the coaching we have been giving him.
“At certain points during the game today, it just seemed like wave after wave, shift after shift, we were playing the right way and creating good offence.
“Capy is doing a great job right now and we are very excited for where his game is going to get to in the future.”
Bollinger also made a solid impression on his coach Tuesday.
“He is another guy who has come in with the right attitude,” Beer said.
“He is willing to do the small things to really be effective. He has played some key minutes on the penalty kill and he has been rewarded with some power-play time and he scored a power-play goal today.
“Both Capy and Bolly are such good-hearted people and they come by it honestly. They have done such a good job in terms of being good teammates and they are polite young men.”
Beer was also pleased to see the Rock get some offensive contributions from the back end on Tuesday.
“Will Caston got off a bomb of a shot right off the face-off,” he said.
“It was nice to see. He is a big, rugged defenceman who sometimes doesn’t get the accolades offensively, but he certainly can contribute offensively.
“He is on the one power play and he makes good outlet passes. It is great to see him get shots off.
“Josh Anderson was everywhere on the ice today. He is such an elite skater and puck mover. We have impressed on him to try and move the puck more. The more you are willing to put pucks to the net and activate, be in the right spot, the better your chances of scoring.”
Caston was ejected from the game in the third period after receiving a double-minor for spearing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct following a dust up with Beavers defenceman Alex Engle that saw the Blind River player assessed a two-minute minor for slashing, a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct.
Both players were also issued one-game suspensions following the contest for being involved in a fight in the final 10 minutes of a game.
Masternak, who stopped 29 of the 31 shots directed his way, picked up fifth win on the season.
Phinney, who blocked three of the six shots he faced, was tagged with the loss. Boyonoski made 24 saves on 26 shots in relief.
NOJHL NOTES — Dicks was named the player of the game for the Rock on Wednesday, while Vertesi was honoured for the Wildcats … The Rock went 1-4 on the power play, while the Wildcats were 0-3 with the man advantage … Wednesday’s other Showcase action saw the Soo Thunderbirds edge the Crunch 4-3 in a shootout, the Soo Eagles fly past the Hearst Lumberjacks 3-2 in overtime, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians knock off the Powassan Voodoos 3-2, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners dump the Beavers 4-1 and the French River Rapids top the Espanola Express 5-2 …The Rock will travel to Espanola for a game against the Express Friday night and then to Elliot Lake for a contest against the Wildcats Saturday night. The next home game for the Rock will be on Wednesday, Oct. 17 when they will entertain the Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena.
Rock 3 Wildcats 2 SO
1. Rock — Mahingan Decontie 2 (unassisted) 4:48
2. Wildcats — Eric Conley 3 (unassisted) 12:38
3. Wildcats — Evan Della-Paolera 1 (Brett Crook, Connor Taylor) 18:39
4. Rock — Riley Robitaille 4 (Derek Seguin, Josh Anderson) PP 2:10
Timmins Rock: Josh Dickson (no goal), Derek Seguin (goal), Mahingan Decontie (no goal); Wildcats: Eric Conley (no goal), Connor Taylor (no goal), Josh Bifolchi (no goal).
Goalies — Rock: Nicholas Dicks (65:00, 15 of 17, win); Wildcats: Justin Vertesi (65:00, 30 of 32, shootout loss).
• • •
Beavers 2 Rock 6
1. Rock — Matt Capisciolto 2 (Mahingan Decontie, A.J. Campbell) 1:47
2. Rock — Keegan McMullen 4 (Riley Robitaille, Ian Elkins) 3:11
3. Rock — Will Caston 1 (Eamon Bollinger) PP 6:06
4. Beavers — Tyler Nott 4 (Sam Harris, Ethan Graham) 16:49
5. Rock — Josh Anderson 1 (Derek Seguin, Matt Capisciolto) 13:51
6. Rock — Matt Capisciolto 3 (Eamon Bollinger) SH EN 12:18
7. Beavers — Ryan Mulligan 2 (Sam Harris, Tyler Nott) 17:43
8. Rock — Eamon Bollinger 1 (Owen Shier, Josh Anderson) PP 19:12
Goalies — Beavers: Thomson Phinney (6:06, 3 of 6, loss), Garret Boyonoski (53:54, 24 of 26, loss); Rock: Tyler Masternak (60:00, 29 of 31, win).