IROQUOIS FALLS - Less than 24 hours after coach and general manager Paul Gagne uttered the words “sometime it is going to bite you in the you know what if you miss those chances,” the Abitibi Eskimos were sitting kind of gingerly after dropping a 6-4 decision to the Blind River Beavers Saturday night.
“That’s what happened,” he said.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances in the first period. Yes, we did get three goals, but still we should have scored seven, or eight goals.
“So, yes, it did bite us in the … yes, it did.
“We were a little bit flat, but give them credit. Awesome, good for them. What a good feeling for them at the end.
“Good for them. For us, we have a terrible feeling right now. It’s awful. It’s terrible. We didn’t even come up with our B game tonight.
“We can’t play like that. We learned a lesson there.
“We had too many players who weren’t here tonight, mentally and physically. You can say it happens, but we don’t want it to happen. We want consistency.”
Beavers coach Don Gagnon was pleased to see his team finally get rewarded for their hard work and record their sixth victory of the season.
“Of late, we have been playing some pretty good hockey and always coming out on the short end of the deal,” he said.
“We would finish first periods tied, be tied after the second period and then lose it in the third period, so tonight was a long time coming and it is very much appreciated that we finally got some of the bounces.
“I think there was a real feeling of relief (when the final buzzer sounded) that all of the work that we put in in the last few weeks finally paid dividends.
“We have been preaching for them to keep working hard, keep working hard, but the results have always turned up with an L. Tonight they turned up with the W, so that just reinforces all the hard work that we put in.”
Gagnon was not taking credit for any great speech between periods that helped turn things around for the Beavers.
“I think our players just got a little bit mad, or angry about the way we gave up the particular goals,” he said.
“They just dug their heels in and decided this has got to stop and tonight it did.”
The Eskimos looked to be in total control of the hockey game in the first period and jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
Erik Robichaud scored the first two of his three goals on the night to lead the Eskimos’ offensive onslaught, while Marc Dube also scored for the home side.
Jacob Zarzycki replied for the Beavers, who were outshot 18-1 in the opening period.
The second period belonged to Blind River, however, as they scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead while outshooting the Eskimos 21-3.
Tyson McLeod scored a pair of power-play goals for the visitors, while Luke MacDonald added an even strength goal.
Captain Scott Marshall scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal with just under four minutes to play in the third period to make it a 5-3 game in favour of Blind River.
“We all came in here knowing it was a big game for us, especially on the road,” Marshall said.
“We don’t come down here for nothing. We wanted to get some points and it was great to break the streak.”
That streak had seen the Beavers suffer 15-straight losses and fall into last place in the eight-team league.
“I think this win is going to be a very good confidence booster for the team,” Marshall said.
“Coming up with a big win like this, especially coming off a big losing streak, everyone was all pumped up and loud in the dressing room.
“The bounces were finally going our way and we came out with a big W.
“(After the Eskimos took the 3-1 lead) the coaches just told us to keep our composure and keep pressing on. We played a good forecheck and we played a good trap and we ended up getting the puck to the back of the net, something that is really good for us.”
Robichaud completed his hat-trick just over a minute later to cut the Beavers’ lead to 5-4, but Matthew Neault’s empty net goal with 49 seconds to play sealed the upset victory for Blind River.
“It is definitely disappointing,” Robichaud said.
“We were looking for some big points to hopefully move up in the standings, so it is definitely disappointing, especially given the lead that we had.
“The penalties we took were pretty costly tonight and it just shows that you have to play 60 minutes of hockey, 40 is not good enough.
“The second period was the big one for them.
“It was nice to contribute tonight, but we lost a game and we are going to have to figure out a way to be better, as a line and as a team.
“Those are really valuable points we could have had tonight.”
Beavers goalie Dylan Knox made 28 saves to pick up the victory, while Eskimos netminder Sylvain Miron stopped 27 shots while taking the loss.
ESKIMOS NOTES: The Eskimos remain tied with Espanola in the standings despite Saturday night’s loss, as the Rivermen dropped a 7-3 decision to the Bobcats in Elliot Lake Saturday night. Espanola has three games in hand on the Eskimos, however … Eskimos defenceman Ryan Kerr was ejected from the game for checking from behind after Neault crashed awkwardly into the boards. After being helped off the ice, Neault was able to return to action later in the game and eventually scored a goal … The Eskimos went 0-2 on the power play, while the Beavers went 2-3 with the man advantage … Attendance was 329, significantly less than Friday night’s game against the North Bay Trappers at the McIntyre Arena in Timmins … The Eskimos will not have long to dwell on Saturday night’s loss, as they travel to North Bay for a game against the Trappers on Monday night.