NORTH BAY — The Trappers closed to within two points of the Abitibi Eskimos in the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League standings with a 6-3 victory over the visitors Thursday night.
Even so, the strong play of affiliate players gave Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne plenty of reasons to smile heading into the Christmas break.
“The first goal was scored by the young (New Liskeard Cub Trevor) MacDonald,” Gagne said.
“He walked in and made a nice move at he blue line, took a shot on net and it went by the goalie.
“That got us going for sure.”
MacDonald has impressed the coach this season with his speed.
“He utilized it,” Gagne said.
“He was playing fourth line and we moved him up on the third line.
“When you score a goal you have a little bit more confidence and he really excelled … he used his speed for that goal.”
MacDonald wasn’t the only affiliate player to shine inNorth Bay.
Hearst Elans forward Ryan Aubertin had a breakout game, scoring his first two NOJHL goals.
“I put him up on the first line, playing right wing with (captain Richard) Therrien and (Corey) Hamel,” Gagne said.
“He was, by far, one of our better players … and not just because he scored two goals.
“He was using his speed, he was clever on the ice … meaning he had good vision.
“When he had the puck he had a good presence on the ice. You knew he was on the ice … he was electrifying and he was dangerous.
“And he was compensated with two beautiful goals … two beautiful shots that the goalie (Gianluca Palmieri) had no idea … two wrist shots that goalie only looked behind him. That’s all he did, he couldn’t do anything else.”
Aubertin is the Elans leading scorer this season, with 34 goals and 16 assists in just 20 games.
Palmieri was able to keep the other Eskimos in check, however, turning aside 30 of the 33 shots he faced to earn his second straight victory over Abitibi.
The Eskimos J.P. Fecteau, meanwhile, stopped 25 of theNorth Bay shots fired his way.
The game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play, as Danny Desrochers got North Bay back on even terms before the end of the first period.
Grand Prairie, Alta., native Bryce Lipinski scored the first of his three goals on the night to put North Bay in front 2-1 with a short-handed goal just 14 seconds in the second period.
Matthew Salituro added a pair of goals before the period was over, sandwiching Aubertin’s first goal, asNorth Baywent to the locker room up 4-2.
Lipinski’s second and third goals of the game forNorth Bayand Aubertin’s second for the Eskimos closed out the scoring in the third period.
“It was a 6-3 hockey game, but they scored into an open net,” Gagne said.
“I was pleased with our competitiveness. We played really well
“I really liked the competitiveness we had … the fight. We had a couple of previous games where we were just outstanding … out standing around … but the last two games have been excellent.”
North Bay forward Jonathan Aubertin, Ryan’s older brother, sat out his third straight game for the Trappers as he awaits a trade.
Gagne confirmed in an interview with The Daily Press on Friday that he has had talks withNorth Baymanagement about picking up the 19-year-old Hearst native.
“We are pursuing it at the moment and we are just waiting forNorth Bayto make a decision,” he said.
“We are definitely interested. He is quite the hockey player and I think he would fit in in our organization.”
The older Aubertin is fourth in scoring for the Trappers this season, with 14 goals and 12 assist in 24 games.
In 2010-11, he wasNorth Bay’s top scorer with 23 goals and 31 assists in 47 games.
Aubertin’s first season with the Trappers was 2009-10, when he was second on the team in scoring with 23 goals and 31 assists in 48 games.