It had the feel of a playoff game.
The Abitibi Eskimos squared off against the North Bay Trappers Friday night at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex in a lively contest that had the nearly 800 fans on their feet cheering for almost the entire 60 minutes.
“There was a great atmosphere on the bench. Timmins has always been a great place to play hockey,” said Trappers head coach Tom McCarthy. “It was a delight to see a packed house.”
The Eskis won their sixth straight home game, besting the Trappers 5-4.
“That was good hockey against the Eskimos all year. Unfortunately we’ve lost all three games by a goal, that shows you it can go either way and maybe a quicker start for us would help,” said McCarthy.
More than 100 penalty minutes were assessed.
“The first period was great. The guys stuck to the program even though we changed our game plan a little bit from last Sunday,” said Eskis assistant coach Marc Cashmore.
The Eskis came out flying in the first scoring three unanswered goals. Forward Corey Tozzi opened the scoring at the 12:16 mark of the first, firing a shot past Trappers netminder Michael Lucia.
“We wanted to be more aggressive on our forechecking and our defensive zone,” said Cashmore.
Less than five minutes later, the Eskis doubled their lead when Forward Delmer Moses notched his seventh goal of the season. Moses picked up the loose puck at the trappers blue line when the Trappers got caught on a bad line change and shorthanded, he drove straight to the net ticking the back of the net with snipe from the faceoff circle.
The Trappers went on the power play withing two minutes of the Eskis scoring their second goal of the game, but on a defensive miscue by the Trappers, Forward Karl Spenardbeat Lucia with backhand from the top of the crease that tucked under the cross bar.
Lucia faced 10 shots through the first 20 minutes, while Eskis goalie, J.P. Fecteau stopped all 17 shots the Trappers threw at him.
Mitchell Knight started the second period for the Trappers. Knight stood on his head keeping his team in the game as they outscored the Eskis 2-1 in the second frame, despite being assessed almost 12 minutes in penalties.
“The second we had the power plays and got a little anxious to score some goals, which took us away from the program a little bit,” said Cashmore. “We tried to get refocused a little bit, but it was hard to get going a little bit because of all the penalties. There was a lot of stoppages.”
Trappers forward Danny Desrochers sent a crisp pass to the unchecked six-foot-three forward Justin Schneeberger standing in front of the net, beating Fecteau with sharp snapshot at the 18:14 mark of the second period.
The puck movement picked up for both teams as the more and more room began to open up on the ice. Both teams pressing hard for the next goal.
Eight minutes later the Trappers cut the Eskis lead to one when forward Bryce Lipinski beat Fecteau on his glove side as he came out of his crease to cut off the angle. Defenceman Ashton Haley picked up his first assist in the 2011 campaign on the Lipinski’s powerplay goal.
The Eskis extended their lead to back to two goals less than two minutes later when defenceman Nicolas Fournier fed forward Richard Therrien at the side of net. Fournier scored from the sharp angle as Knight stretched across the goal mouth trying to prevent the goal.
Forward Marc-Alain Begin nearly picked up his 14th goal of the year when at the 8:43 mark of the second period Knight got a pad on his shot from point blank range, deflecting harmless away from the net, which drew spirited reaction from the crowd.
The Trappers outshot the Eskis 12-7 through the second frame.
Nearly 70 minutes in penalties was dished out in the third period as the Trappers put the pressure on the Eskis for the final 20 minutes.
Begin scored his 14th goal of the season found the back of the net when the Eskis forced the Trappers to turnover the puck. Begin sniped a high wrist shot from the slot the beat Knight at the 19:30 mark.
The Trappers kept pressing though as the clock ran down. At times pushing the Eskis onto their heals and trapping them deep in their defensive zone.
“I told the guys to stay away from the crap going on the ice and to stay focused,” said Cashmore. We we’re bailing out a little bit.”
Forward Ryan West potted his third goal of the season on an assist from forward Brad Edwards at the 13:29 mark. The Trappers pulled to within two goals and kept the pressure on.
The Treppers banged away at the puck when a mad scramble ensued in front of Fecteau. Desrochers picked up his second point of the game slid the loose puck under a sprawled Fecteau.
It wouldn’t be enough as the Eskis held on for the victory despite being outshot 48-37.