IROQUOIS FALLS - August Jarecki’s goal lifted the Sudbury Nickel Barons to a 5-4 double overtime victory over the Abitibi Eskimos at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
“My centre, (Jacob) Bonin, just broke down the wing and I saw that it was a one-on-one for him and I just busted up the ice and opened up for a one-T (timer) .
“He made a beautiful pass over and I just managed to pot it.
“I was just feeling a big sigh of relief when the puck when in the net.”
Playing their fourth game in four nights, the last thing the Nickel Barons needed was to play overtime, much less double overtime, but they victory likely made the bus ride home a little more enjoyable.
“It was really nice to come back and win it,” Jarecki said.
“It was a little bit of a struggle, but we managed to grind it out.”
The two teams exchanged first period goals, with Jamey Lauzon scoring for the Eskimos and Danny Lepage replying for the Nickel Barons.
Daniel Nicholas had the only goal in the second period, his first in an Eskimos uniform, as the home side skated off with a 2-1 advantage.
Ryan Attwood’s power-play goal 1:38 into the final period extended the Eskimos lead to 3-1, but Christopher Rossi got that one back for the Nickel Barons just 15 seconds later.
The Eskimos appeared to be cruising when Brady Clouthier scored his fifth goal of the season midway through the third period to put the home side in front 4-2.
Brad Sutton scored with just under five minutes remaining in regulation, however, to cut the Eskimos lead to 4-3.
Kyle Franson then got the visitors back on even terms with three-and-a-half minutes remaining to play, setting the stage for overtime.
Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne was not happy with the final score, or the two blown two-goal leads, but given the players missing from the lineup Saturday night — forwards Brenden Locke (suspended), Ryan Tront (injured), Dalton Bruce (injured) and Harrison Jacobs (quit the team) and defencemen Michael Rancourt (injured) and Nick Minerva (signed, but not yet cleared to play) — being able to salvage a single point may be a blessing.
“We had players on the ice, who normally should not have been on the ice, even in the last shift, but when you look at the players out of the lineup, you have got to put rookies out there and it is almost like training camp, basically,” he said.
“We are evaluating the players, because we have no choice. That didn’t help and that is where the mistakes were made.
“It is disappointing, because they worked really hard. We had such a short bench and worked so hard and we get one point out of it.
“Is it (getting one point) positive, or is it negative? It is negative because we lost the one point, but all in all, I thought it was a great effort.”
Among the issues that plagued the Eskimos in the third period were players trying to make cross-ice passes at the offensive blue-line and having Sudbury players intercept those passes and having players attempt to make drop passes behind then and having Nickel Barons gobble up the puck.
“I don’t know if they did it when they were playing for their coaches last year, but these are all things that are going to have to be corrected,” Gagne said.
“It is early in the season and these are the little tweaks, the little things that you have to work on and they are going to learn that they can’t be making those plays.”
Among the players Gagne singled out for praise Saturday night were forward Cameron Etherington.
“He impressed me tonight, with his puck handling and stuff,” he said.
“Clouthier did his thing again and it was nice to see Attwood. He was skating. He was driving wide and making things happen. I was impressed with his play for sure.”
Attwood came close to ending the game in the first overtime period, as he picked up the puck in his own zone sped down the off wing, cut wide around the Sudbury defender and drove to the net, only to be denied by Sudbury goalie Jessie Morin.
With the victory Saturday night, the Nickel Barons were able to secure six of a possible eight points during their stretch of four games in four nights.
“I was just hoping that we had a enough gas,” said Nickel Barons coach Jason Young.
“We got a lucky break, we got a two on one and we made a great play and August was the benefactor … and so was our team.
“We got a nice two points tonight.
“I am definitely proud of those guys. There is a lot of character in that room.
“That is what we talked about between the second and third. You have to do whatever it takes for 20 minutes. You have got to leave everything on the ice.
“It took a little longer than that, it took 28 minutes, so I am real proud of those guys.
“We had one bad game in K.L., but that team in K.L. is a pretty good team.”
The Nickel Barons secured the victory Saturday night even though they were missing a couple of key contributors of their own, including — star defenceman Khadyn Butterfly (suspended following an incident in Kirkland Lake) and forwards Josh Moore (injury) and Cray Roberge (currently with the Gatineau Olympiques, of the QMJHL), and they then lost forward Dylan Callaghan near the end of the first period after he was assessed a minor penalty for checking from behind and a game misconduct.
“Those are some pretty key players, but the other guys stepped up,” Young said.
“The other guys get a chance to play and obviously they want to show us what they can do and I think they did that tonight.”
Even though the Nickel Barons fell behind 3-1 and then 4-2 on Saturday night, they never wavered from their game plan.
“Hockey is a game of momentum,” Young said.
“The momentum shifts every once in a while, so you can’t panic. You just have to try and keep the guys calm and I think that is what we did tonight.”
“Jessie made some big saves when he had to tonight.
“He kept it at 4-2 and then we got a couple of lucky goals. We worked for them, but they were a couple of lucky breaks.
Morin made 26 saves while recording the victory.
Eskimos netminder Chet Tooker turned aside 32 shots, while being tagged with the loss.
“When we made it 4-4, we knew it was bound to happen,” Young said.
“The guys felt really good on the bench and you could just sense the energy lift up.”
“It took two overtime periods, but we got her done.”
ESKIMOS NOTE — The Eskimos were 1-6 on the power play, while the Nickel Barons were 0-5 with the man advantage … The official attendance at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night was 563 … The next home game for the Eskimos will be on Friday night when they take on the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the McIntyre Arena in Timmins. They will then take on the Cochrane Crunch at the Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday night.