n the words of Timmins-born country singer Shania Twain: “That don’t impress me much.”
In fact, it was hard to tell who was less impressed with the performance of the Abitibi Eskimos in Thursday’s 8-6 loss to the Sudbury Cubs at the McIntyre Arena: Coach and general manager Paul Gagne, or the crowd of 636 who had laid down good money to watch the new look NOJHL squad.
We may never know for sure, as Gagne left the arena grumbling about the play of his defence without talking to the press and the comments of most fans were a little to spicy to print in a family newspaper.
Assistant coach Marc Cashmore struggled to come up with any positive points to take from the loss.
“We did get good support from (goaltender J.P.) Fecteau,” he said. “He kept us in there as long as he could, but it was a total collapse of our defence.
“The defence played alright on the power play, but five-against-five it just collapsed.”
The game was an almost complete reversal of the last encounter between the two teams on Saturday night at the Jus Jordan Arena inIroquoisFalls.
That game had seen the Cubs jump out to a 2-0 first period lead before the Eskimos fought back to claim a 7-4 victory.
On Thursday, it was the Eskimos who struck quickly, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Corey Hamel and Nicolas Fournier while dominating the first 15 minutes of play.
Jamie Haines goal with 1:13 to play in the period cut the lead to 2-1, however, and gave momentum to the visitors.
Jordan Carroll then got Sudburyback on even terms 4:47 into the second period and even though the Eskimos once again took a two-goal lead when Jacob Kord and newcomerJake Ryan scored, the Cubs held a territorial edge in play for the remainder of the game.
“Jake got his first goal and he had no problem keeping up with everybody,” Cashmore said.
“He didn’t have a practice with us this week, at all. He just came right off the plane and right into the jersey and he did well.
“We are anxious to work with him during our practices to get him used to our system. He is going to be a good player.”
Ryan admitted he was “a bit nervous coming in,” but it didn’t take him long to shake that feeling.
“I didn’t feel like I was going to be out of place,” he said. “But I just did my best and tried to get used to the guys and it was good. Too bad we ended up with no points.”
The Eskimos other newcomer, defenceman Chris Green, played a strong first period, but appeared a little lost in the second and third periods.
“He had the puck a few times and I asked him what he was doing and he said I don’t know,” Cashmore said.
“We explained it on the bench to him and he picked it up a little bit more.
“He only had one practice this week and it was a goalie practice. There is a lot to give a new guy … a lot of information for a game.”
Carroll’s second goal of the game, a power-play marker, with less than a minute to play reduced the Abitibi lead to 4-3 heading into the final period.
Cashmore conceded the Eskimos gave the Cubs too many quality scoring chances.
“It was penalties again, stupid, foolish penalties,” Cashmore said.
“It was just a matter of not concentrating on the game plan.
“Those stupid penalties gave them the advantage. We know they have a good power play.”
He then completed his hat trick with another power-play goal just 22 seconds into the third.
Fournier’s second power-play goal of the game put the Eskimos back in front 5-4 a few minutes later, but Abitibi was not able to hold onto the lead.
Darcy Haines scored a pair of goals three minutes apart to put the visitors ahead for good.
On the first goal, he was allowed to walk out from the corner, cut across the crease and flip the puck over a sprawling Fecteau.
“In the long run, we gave the game away,” Cashmore said. “Another short-handed goal. Not good, not good.”
That short-handed goal, Jamie Haines’ second goal of the game, proved to be the game winner and put Sudburyin front 7-5.
Karl Spenard provided a little hope for the Eskimos fans when he scored to cut the Cubs lead to 7-6, but Jayce Douskey’s long shot closed out the scoring and made the final 8-6 in favour of Sudbury.
The game might have turned out differently had the Eskimos been able to increase their lead to 3-0 in the first period, instead of allowing Sudburyto make it 2-1.
“It’s always hard to get that third goal,” Cashmore said.
“We had a lot of pucks jumping over sticks in the crease area and their goalie came up with a couple of lucky saves.
“The toughest lead to hold is a two goal lead.
“The killer too was coming out in the third period and them scoring on the power play right off the bat. That was a downer and it was hard to come back from that.”
Fecteau stopped 44 of the 52 shots he faced and kept the score from being much worse.
The Cubs Alex Laino made 31 saves and went the distance to pick up the victory.
IGLOO NOTES: The Eskimos game in Kirkland Lake Friday night was postponed, so their next game will be Sunday night in North Bay against the Trappers … The three stars of the game were Darcy Haines, Carroll and Marc-Alain Begin, who picked up assists on five of the six Eskimos goals. Carroll’s six points increases his lead over Begin in the NOJHL scoring race to 12 points and makes him the league’s first 100-point player in 2011-12.