IROQUOIS FALLS — The Eskis showed their coach something special Wednesday night at the Igloo.
The team overcame an early 2-0 North Bay Trappers lead to win 4-3 and hand the visiting team their first loss of the season.
They now sit tied with North Bay and Sudbury atop the NOJHL’s Eastern Division, with four points through three games.
The Trappers scored their first goal on the power play and were up by two within the OPENING seven minutes of the game.
“It’s a bit of a cliché. We had our heads down after the first two goals and it felt like North Bay had total control of the game,” said Paul Gagne.
“You could feel it in the arena. They had the momentum and we started taking a lot of penalties. The guys were getting frustrated.”
Marc-Alain Begin managed to get his team on the board right before the end of the opening frame on the power play, sending his team into the break with a bit of momentum.
Begin now sits in a six-player tie for third in league scoring with seven points.
Gagne grilled the team about talking so many penalties during the break. They took five minor penalties during the period.
Eskis players said their coaches talk lit a fire under their butts going into the second, along with their goalie’s strong play in the opening frame.
The Trappers fired 22 of their 49 shots at J.P. Fecteau during the first period.
”Our goalie’s play in the first was amazing. He made some big saves all night, but especially in the first,” said Begin, following Wednesday night’s game.
“We weren’t playing that well in front of him, but he kept us in it. We knew we needed to play stronger in front of him for the rest of the game. He deserved it.”
Begin, tied the game up at two within the first five minutes of the second period. He buried a loose puck in the Trappers’ crease. Begin was Johnny on the spot all night for his team, scoring three of the Eskis four goals.
“You could feel the momentum building after Begin’s goal,” continued Gagne. “Everyone in the building could feel it.”
The Eskis special teams took over after the Trappers went ahead 3-2.
Eskis Delmer Moses tied things up at three at 10:37 of the second and Begin sealed the deal for his team at 11:34 on the power play, scoring the games final goal on a one-timer slap shot that the Trappers goalie had absolutely no chance of stopping.
Begin’s third goal gave his team their first lead in the game.
Action in the third period was back and forth. Fecteau made two big saves early on in the period, to reassure his team that they could count on him.
Trappers’ players were obviously frustrated that the Eskis stole the lead away from them and they couldn’t get it back. The visitors took five minor penalties in the final period.
Fecteau continued his dominance by stopping a Trappers short-handed breakaway attempt with 5:45 left in the game.
“I just did my job tonight. After being pulled the last two games, I had something to prove,” said the netminder. “Paul gave me confidence tonight and I just stepped up my game. I know I can play in this league, so I knew I just needed to step up and play my game. Have some fun out there.”
The Trappers even pulled their goalie with 40 seconds left on the clock, but got a penalty soon afterwards so he had to go back in.
The third period didn’t affect the scoreboard, but Fecteau and the rest of the Eskis were proud that they were able to hold off the league’s highest scoring team off during the final 20 minutes.
“The Trappers are a really good team,” said Gagne. “They always take care of the finer details and it shows with their team this year. They’re always working hard.
“We didn’t outwork them tonight, but it came down to the power play and capitalising on our chances. Our speciality units really worked well.”
The close game also shows the competitive level in the league this year. Any team will be able to win on any given night.
“I think this shows us that we just had bad execution in our first game and we can compete with anyone in this league. Especially when our goalie is on fire like he was,” said Begin.
“North Bay beat Sudbury. Sudbury beat us. We beat North Bay.
“It’s going to be a tight battle all season for sure.”