NOJHL preseason preview: Timmins Rock

TIMMINS, Ont. – Coming off a 2017-18 campaign where they qualified for a postseason spot then proceeded to go on an impressive playoff run, the Timmins Rock, under second-year head coach Corey Beer, will look to build on that solid performance.

Last season saw Beer lead his charges to playoff victories over the Hearst Lumberjacks in opening round play before going on to upset the first place and highly-touted Powassan Voodoos in the East Division semifinals.

They then went on to give the eventual NOJHL champion Cochrane Crunch a good test in the East Division Final prior to ultimately seeing their year conclude in the best-of-seven series setback.

Beer’s success, which also includes a national Jr. A championship as an assistant coach with the Cobourg Cougars in 2017, has also earned additional commendation for himself, the Rock and the NOJHL by earlier being named to the Team Canada East staff for the upcoming World Jr. A Challenge this December in Bonnyville, Alta.

Now with a small nucleus of veteran players and a core of new talent, Timmins, under Beer’s guidance are gearing up for another season at McIntyre Arena.

Here’s a look at the Rock in this, the first of 12 NOJHL team preseason Q&A sessions.

NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2018-19 season after such a strong playoff showing?

COREY BEER: I think for our team, we’re looking to continue to play strong responsible hockey. We’ve turned over a lot of the roster and only have a handful from last years team, so it will be a new focus with the guys we have this season and we hope to have it be a successful one.

NOJHL: What have you’ve seen in your on-ice sessions and what you expect to see leading up to your exhibition games and the regular season?

C.B.: Thus far we’re very optimistic for the group we have in training camp. We look to have a fast team and hope to play that way all season. Our full focus right now is just to get everyone on the same page as we move towards the Sept 8th opener against French River.

NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?

C.B.: I think we have a good nucleus of guys coming back that includes forwards Stewart Parnell and Derek Seguin. They can continue to be great players for us and are guys who have rounded themselves into terrific 200-foot players. They will be key for us up front. On the back-end, Will Caston returns and will look to make a big jump in production. He is already a huge minute-eater at age 17 and thus far he’s shown extremely well through camp. Also, Tyler Masternak in net looks poised to become a terrific goaltender in this league. He’s coming off a great playoff for us and we feel he’s ready for the next step.

NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on?

C.B.: I think everyone so far has had a great start to camp. Our staff made it a priority this off-season to put a premium on skill and speed and so far, it looks like we’ve done that. A couple guys to keep an eye on would be our 20-year-old D-man Connor Mullins, 18-year-old forward Josh Dickson and 20-year-old forward Max Charbonneau. We feel all three will have a great impact for us. Mullins is from Toronto and played in the Western States Hockey League last year. As for Dixon, he played Jr. C for the Port Perry Mojacks previously while Charbonneau comes to us from the Granby Inouk of the QJAAAHL.

NOJHL: What are you looking to build upon from last season?

C.B.: I think we just want to be a team that’s hard working and detail oriented. We have a tremendous fan base here in Timmins and we want to give them a team that they can be excited about. Hopefully we can do that.

NOJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?

C.B.: Just to make sure that our team is well prepared night in night out. We definitely want to be a competitive team every time we touch the ice and hopefully as camp goes on we will get ourselves to that point.

NOJHL: Talk about you being named to the Team Canada East coaching staff for the World Jr. A Challenge and what does it mean to the organization?

C.B.: Firstly, it’s such a great honour to be able to represent your country in whichever capacity possible. To be added to Pat Bosch’s staff is extremely exciting and can’t wait to get things rolling. I’ve had the opportunity to coach players in previous years who have played in the tournament and seeing it live a few times it’s such a high end tournament I can’t put into words how great it will be to be a part of that. Secondly, for us as an organization, any time anyone gets the chance to show off our club it’s a great thing. Hopefully with myself joining the Canada East staff it’s brings some more attention to the great city of Timmins and to this great program we have here with the Rock. I’ve been so lucky to be around such great people in this organization and I feel like my selection is in big part in tribute to the people I’m around every day.

NOJHL: Any closing thoughts or comments you’d like to offer.

C.B.: I can’t wait to get the regular season rolling and we’re hoping for another good year in our great league.