Eskimos boost offence

IROQUOIS FALLS - After skinning a few Bobcats last weekend, the Abitibi Eskimos will be looking to add a few Beaver pelts to their collection Saturday night.

The Blind River Beavers will make their first visit of the 2013-14 NOJHL season to the Jus Jordan Arena, after stopping off in Kirkland Lake for a showdown with the Gold Miners Friday night.

And the Eskimos, who scored six goals in a route of the Elliot Lake Bobcats last Saturday, will have a few new weapons on the lineup to face the Beavers.

The Eskimos have signed 18-year-old forward Andrew Green, who played for the Toronto Attack of the GMHL last season, and acquired 19-year-old forward Shane Hiley from the Kemptville 73s, of the CCHL.

While both players have put up big numbers and they booth shoot right — something the Eskimos have been lacking up front — that is where the similarities end.

Green, who has been practicing with the Eskimos since Tuesday, is 5-8 and 170 lbs., with speed to burn, while Hiley, who arrived in Iroquois Falls on Friday, is 6-0, 180 lbs. and not fast afoot.

With the Attack, Green (28, 12-20-32, 14) averaged more than a point a game during the 2012-13 regular season. He also put up some impressive numbers (5, 2-5-7, 2) during the playoffs.

“He has great speed, great hands, really good hands, a lot of skills and he can move laterally just as fast as going forward,” Eskis’ Head Coach/GM Paul Gagne said.

“And, for some reason, here in practice everytime he shoots the puck it finds the back of the net and he can shoot hard and he can just place it, so he has got a lot of upside on his game.

“He has got the skills, so we are just going to have to teach him how to play our program and play defensively.

“Hopefully it works out, but so far, so good.”

Hiley appeared in two games for the 73s this season, registering one minor penalty, but averaged almost a goal a game (30, 28-12-40 48) while playing for the Athens Aeros, of the EOJHL, in 2012-13. He also got into 12 games with Kemptville (12, 2-2-4, 4).

“He’s a kid who put up some great numbers playing Junior ‘B’ last year in the Ottawa area,” Gagne said.

“He’s not the fastest skater, but he has a big body and will make his pressence known on the ice at all times and he has great hands and he can score goals.

“Hopefully he can add that dimension to our team and provide a little more offence.”

Having right-handed shooting forwards is essential for a team like the Eskimos.

“You have set plays off the face offs and you would like to have players so you can set it up somehow from both sides,” Gagne said. “So, it is a bonus to have those right-handed shots. It really is. So you can do the set plays from different sides of the ice.”

The addition of Green and Hiley are the only changes expected to the Eskimos lineup for Saturday night’s game and a game Sunday afternoon in Espanola.

The Eskimos have yet to play the Beavers during the 2013-14 season, but Gagne expects them to be ready to play when the puck drops — regardless of what happens Friday night in Kirkland Lake.

“They are a hard-working team and they will forecheck hard,” he said.

“They like to play a dump-and-chase game, a lot of dump and chase, so we know that we are going to have our hands full.

“We are going to have to be sharp in the defensive zone and we are going to have to move the puck well like we did last game and continue to get a lot of shots on net again and try to play more in the offensive zone.

“We know they are a hard-working team and they finish their checks, so we will have to be ready.”

Eskimos fans can expect to see Sylvain Miron back between the pipes for Saturday’s game and he may get the start in Espanola, as well.

“He has been playing well,” Gagne said.

“And Simon(-Pier Chamberland) knows he is going to get his chance, but you just hate to punish a goalie who is playing well by telling him: ‘You are playing well, you can’t play.’

“That’s our philosophy and that’s the way it is. It’s unfortunate for Simon, but he understands that.

“But even if we don’t play Sylvain on Sunday, it doesn’t mean that he is not playing well. It all depends on the fatigue factor. It’s a 2 p.m. game on Sunday and we are leaving at 6:30 a.m.”