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Eskimos beat Beavers

TIMMINS - Defenceman Brennan Roy scored his first two goals of the season to help lead the Abitibi Eskimos to a 6-4 win over the Blind River Beavers at the McIntyre Arena Friday night.

“It has been a while,” said Roy, following the victory.

“I have just been trying to get shots on the net and I finally put one in on the power play.

“We were on the power play and Wildman gave me a nice pass and I just saw a lane open up for the shot and I took it.

“After that first one, you just get a confidence boost and feel a lot better.”

The Eskimos power play has enjoyed a lot of success during their recent hot streak.

“Lately, it has been a lot of puck movement and getting pucks to the net and having the forwards crashing the net,” Roy said.

“When the forwards are in front the goalies can’t see much. That’s where we get most of our goals on the power play.”

The victory allowed the Eskimos to move into a third-place tie with the Espanola Rivermen who dropped an 8-2 decision to the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie Friday night.

“Every two points is important,” Roy said.

“Third place is our goal right now and that’s what we are going for.”

Eskimos assistant coach and general manager Dan Dube was happy to see his team get the two points and pull into a tie with the Rivermen.

“Getting pucks on net was the key to winning tonight,” he said.

“Our defence found ways to get the puck on net and our forwards were crashing the net and we were getting some rebounds, so it paid off for everybody. The defence were getting it on net and our forwards were going to the net to get those goals.

“We got a couple like that, so that was the key to our success.”

One area of concern for Dube was special teams as the Eskimos gave up three power-play goals and for the second game in a row surrendered a short-handed goal, as well.

“It is undisciplined hockey and we are not happy about it right now,” he said.

“We are going to have to figure it out by Sunday, because that is coming up quick and we know we can’t play undisciplined against Kirkland Lake because they have a pretty good power-play.

“We are going to talk to the boys and we are going to be better on Sunday.”

All things considered, however, Dube is quite happy to take the two points.

“Any time you can get two points is big,” he said.

“We have been on a roll lately and we want to keep it going.”

With Friday night’s victory, the Eskimos have now won nine of their last 12 games.

Friday’s Eskimos game mirrored their 4-3 win over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Wednesday night.

The Eskimos jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then saw the visitors storm back to tie the score at 3-3.

Unlike Wednesday, however, the Eskimos didn’t wait until the final seconds to secure the win.

Roy, with his second goal of the game, and Zach Innes scored to put the Eskimos in front 5-3 midway through the final period.

The Beavers refused to go quietly, however, with Tyson McLeod scoring a power-play goal to give Blind River hope heading into the final minute of regulation.

That hope was dashed for good when Ryan Tront scored an empty net goal with nine seconds remaining.

“It was definitely a slow start, maybe bus legs, I don’t know,” said Beavers coach Don Gagnon.

“It wasn’t the start we wanted and when you dig yourself a hole against a team like this it’s pretty tough to come back.

“We showed some resilience, coming back and making it 3-3, but then we got an unfortunate penalty, allowed a power-play goal and we were right back on our heels again.”

If there was one highlight for the Beavers to embrace from Friday night’s game it was their strong play on special teams.

“We have been working on those, trying to get a little better with them, so it was nice to see that happen,” Gagnon said.

“And a short-handed goal is always a bonus. It is always a lifter for the whole team when that happens, so it was nice to see that.”

Gagnon was only in his fifth game behind the bench for the Beavers, since taking over for Doug McEwen.

“We have talked about the fact that when we got here it was a hill they were trying to climb and now it’s just a speed bump,” he said.

“We are trying to find that secret to getting over that little speed bump and get the Ws, because we are not that far off now.

“In the last four, or five games now I can say that we deserved a better fate in some of them, but right now the hockey gods still want us to work harder.”

When the Beavers fully adapt to his system, Gagnon wants to see Blind River play an aggressive, in-your-face style of hockey.

“I want them to be disciplined and pay attention to detail, that will bring us a long way,” he said.

For the Eskimos, the team’s leadership is continuing to step up and play a key role.

“On the bench, guys like (Landon) Hiebert with their experience were trying to keep everybody calm because of the penalties,” Dube said.

The Eskimos enjoyed a 1-0 lead after the first period of play, thanks to Kealey Cummings’ goal.

Roy and Andrew Green scored second-period goals to extend the Eskimos’ lead to 3-0.

Josh Hosking, with a power-play goal, and Derek Battagin, with a short-handed goal, got the Beavers back to within one goal prior to the end of the second period.

Hosking netted his second power-play goal early in the third period to get the Beavers back on even terms.

Eskimos goalie Sylvain Miron was once again steady in net, making 34 saves to pick up the victory.

“Our goalie played well,” Dube said.

“He made the key saves when he had to in order to preserve the win.”

Beavers goalie Dylan Knox, who made 37 saves while taking the loss, also earned praised from his coach.

“I thought our goaltender played a strong game for us,” Gagnon said.

“And Hosking had a couple of goals from the point. It is always nice when you get offence from your defence.

“And Battagin was good, (Scott) Marshall was good and I thought McLeod was good. We just didn’t have enough guys going for the full 60 minutes.”

The Beavers will play in Kirkland Lake on Saturday night, while the Eskimos make the trip on Sunday night to play the Gold Miners.