IROQUOIS FALLS – The Jus Jordan Arena was nearly empty when the final buzzer sounded on the Eskimos’ embarrassing 11-3 loss at the hands of the Trappers who will host the Dudley Hewitt Cup this spring.
Make it seven straight losses for the Eskimos.
The thing is, the Abibiti Eskimos were still in the game at the close of the first period despite being down 3-2 to the North Bay Trappers.
“The first period wasn’t so bad,” said Eskimos assistant coach Marc Cashmore.
Cole Klippenstein, Graham Pickard, and Brennen Dubchak had goals from the Trappers, while Zach Innes and Wyatt Trumbley picked up markers for the Eskimos.
Nobody could have guessed how quickly things went bad for the Eskimos.
Five goals found the back of the Eskimos’ net in the first 8:09 of the second frame with Conner Gilmartin, Duane Wainman, Samuel Blanchet, Brandon Janke, Dubchak and Tait Seguin netting markers for the Trappers, until Daniel Villeneuve scored for Abitibi.
However, by that point, the game was already out of reach with this year Trappers leading 8-3.
“We have been struggling to put the puck in the net a little bit,” said Trappers head coach Tom McCarthy. “We’re getting two or three goals, we might be managing a 3-2 win, 2-1 win, that kind of style, but we haven’t opened up like that for 15 games. For us to come out like that tonight, might have been a release for us because we have been struggling a little bit and consequently tonight, the timing fell that way.”
North Bay has won every meeting against the Eskimos this season, going 5-0.
“I think it might just be timing when we play them,” said McCarthy.
Abitibi netminder Jackson Winkler was lifted from the game after four minutes of action in the second, having turned aside 14 of 20 shots he face.
Jeremy Laux played the rest of the game stopping 25 of 30 shots.
“We’ve got to stick together,” said Cashmore. “We dug ourselves into a hole as a team and we have to stick together for these next couple of weeks to be prepared for the playoffs.”
The Trappers were relentless from the second period onward, seemingly scoring on command.
Seguin picked up North Bay’s ninth goal at the 11:26 mark of the second.
Daniel Carter and Carter Horwitz rounded out the scoring for the Trappers in the third.
North Bay skater, 20-year-old Beau Orser had a whale of a game, recording seven assists, while netminder and fellow 20-year-old Greg Dodds picked up the win, turning aside 30 of 33 shots through two periods.
He was replaced by Dustin Hummel for the final 20 minutes, stopping all three shots he faced.
North Bay has 10 skaters on the roster who are 20 years old. Due to Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey rules, only nine can dress for a game. Unfortunately for the Trappers, one of their 20-year-olds was injured and unable to play in Saturday’s game.
“Unfortunately right now we have a 20-year-old injured so that helped us out,” said McCarthy. “At the same time, there’s no question that experience helps in the game, in practice and in the dressing room.
“It’s all about the little things. If you do the little things better than the other team then you have a great chance of winning. We have a very balanced scenario here and that’s something we try and build.
“That’s something we try and install in them as a group and that’s what the leadership of the older guys brings.”
Eight of the 11 Trappers’ goals came at even strength, two came with a man advantage and Dubchak picked up a shorthanded goal in the second.
The Eskimos capitalized on two of nine powerplays.
Abitibi was without Nick Fountain and Justin Holliday who are serving suspensions with both players eligible to return to the lineup on Feb. 23.
The Eskimos have a rare midweek home game versus the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners on Wednesday at the Jus Jordan Arena.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Eskimos notes: The Trappers’ 11 goals on Saturday was the most given up and the biggest margin of defeat by the Eskimos all season. Forward Zach Innes picked up two points in the contest to extend his current point streak to eight points in four games. Teammate Peter Poulin-Roy also has eight points in four games. Forward Ryan Tront left the game and was taken to hospital to receive stitches on his chin and defenceman Kealey Cummings also left the game after sustaining a upper-body injury. Forwards Brandon Windsor and Phillip Sweeney were sent home for off-ice disciplinary reasons.