Lumberjacks take down Rock

Timmins has 5-game winning streak snapped in Hearst

Defenceman Eric Moreau, from left, and forward Zach Smith and the rest of the Timmins Rock will look to get back into the win column at home on Sunday afternoon against Blind River. ANDREW AUTIO/FOR THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD

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The Timmins Rock’s latest visit to Hearst wasn’t as fun as their last. On Thursday night, the Lumberjacks rode a hot goalie and some timely scoring en route to a 5-1 win.

Lumberjacks captain Max Griffioen scored his 15th goal of the season at 9:37 of the first period. Then, David Gobeil scored a spectacular goal just three minutes later, cruising past three defenders, to send Hearst to the dressing room up 2-0.

Tyler Gilberds poked in a loose puck for his 10th goal of the season 43 seconds into the second on a powerplay to cut the lead in half.

A pair of goals from Lumberjacks sniper Jake Desando midway through the third sealed the win. Alex Cannon added an empty netter to round out the scoring. It was the Rock’s most lopsided loss of the season.

On Oct. 22nd, the Rock left Hearst with a convincing 4-0 win. The Lumberjacks had no intentions of that happening again.

“We had shut them out the last two games, so we knew we were going to get their best game. Unfortunately for us, just not enough contributions throughout our lineup. We probably had about two lines going. It wasn’t our best performance, but again, that’s a credit to them, they’re a good team,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.

Hearst Lumberjacks goalie Liam Oxner delivered one of his best games of the season on Thursday against Timmins.ANDREW AUTIO/FOR THE DAILY PRESS jpg, TD

Lumberjacks goalie Liam Oxner was outstanding all night long, stopping 36 of the 37 shots he faced – including 22 in the second period alone.

“It seemed like it was going to be ‘one of those nights’ after that period. We had a couple of chances, and pucks hitting posts, and their guy making phenomenal saves.”

After a particularly frustrating denial on a two-on-one, where the puck stopped precariously on the goal line, Beer told two of his top forwards – Derek Seguin and Josh Dickson, to not lose any confidence, as simply, on some nights the “hockey gods” just aren’t on your side.

“That’s a beautiful thing about hockey, you can play a great game, or big parts of it, and still not end up on the right side of the scoresheet. It was another great hockey game between two really good opponents,” said Beer.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rock will welcome the Blind River Beavers and former NHL all-star goaltender Curtis Joseph to town for a pre-game puck drop and later, a fundraising autograph session. Joseph will also watch the game with VIP ticket holders.

All that aside, it’s a big game between two of the best teams in the NOJHL. The Beavers are currently sitting in second place in the West Division with a 15-5-1-2 record. They have recently bolstered their back end with the acquisitions of veteran defenceman Kyle Quinn and goaltender Dominic Boily.

“What you see is what you get with them. They’re fast, they’re physical. They can play any which way you want to. If they want to score on the rush, they can. If they want to grind you and get the cycle game going, they can,” said Beer.

“I expect nothing but a great hockey game on Sunday. Two great teams going at it.”

The Rock will have to find a way to slow down Beavers captain, and league MVP front-runner, Caleb Serre.

Serre leads the league in goals (23), points (49), and points-per-game (2.13).

“I don’t know if you can completely neutralize him. He’s scoring at a pretty good clip here. He seems to find his way onto the scoresheet, no matter how the game goes for them. We’ll do our best to slow him down,” said Beer.

But the Beavers also have several other legitimate weapons. Serre’s linemate, Justin Mauro, is tied for second in league scoring with 37 points. Lucas Adams has chipped in with 23 points, and Nathan Balkwill has 22 points in 23 games from the blueline. Forward David Campbell has seven points in six games since joining the Beavers after a stint with the OHL’s North Bay Battalion.

“Mauro has been sensational this season. Maybe it’s not so much about slowing one guy down, but a group of them, and try and get them out of their comfort zone,” said Beer.

The team is also looking forward to another home game in front of a rowdy crowd.

“We obviously love playing in the friendly confines of The Mac, and having the support of our fans behind us too. We’ll have a good prep day tomorrow, get our legs back under us and really try to find a way to match these guys. If we can keep that top line of theirs off the scoresheet, it would be incredible. If we’ve got to slow them down by keeping our offence going, then that’s what we’ll do.”

The two teams will meet again next Saturday in Blind River, their second and final regular season meeting.

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