IROQUOIS FALLS – The Abitibi Eskimos got in touch with their offensive side Saturday night and they needed every goal they could muster in a 9-8 win over the visiting Blind River Beavers.
Peter Poulin-Roy paced the attack for the high-scoring Eskimos, netting three goals as the home side earned its second straight victory and leapfrogged the Beavers for fifth spot in the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League.
“We kept going up a couple of goals and then we would let up,” Poulin-Roy said.
“You can’t let up in a game like this.”
He jokingly admitted that he might have to try and score four or five goals the next game after picking up three on Saturday night and still not being included as one of the game’s three stars.
“I am just going to have to try harder next time,” Poulin-Roy chuckled.
“I like playing with my linemates, especially (captain Richard) Therrien.”
He was impressed with the strong play of a number of his teammates.
“I think there were two or three guys who got their first goal of the year,” Poulin-Roy said.
Eskimos coach and GM Paul Gagne was happy with the final score and they way his team played for much of the game.
“I was pleased with the first period and really pleased with the third period,” he said.
“The second period we had penalties and we lost momentum. There was a lot of individual stuff that was happening, but I was really happy with the way we played in the third period.
“Offensively, it was great, but defensively we made little mistakes and it wound up being a goal against, so I was not happy and the goaltenders were not happy, either.”
The Eskimos were missing Kealey Cummings on the blue line, due to injury.
Timmins native Ryan Wildman added his first two goals since joining the Eskimos, while Aaron Kerr, Miles Nolan, Jonathan Levesque and Dustin Jusseau each scored a goal.
“It’s a bit of a monkey off the back, to get going, especially early in the game, to build your confidence for the rest of the game,” Wildman said.
“Everyone played well out there tonight.”
A centre, Wildman is usually more concerned with setting up his linemates, as opposed to putting the puck in the net himself.
“It’s nice having two guys who can put the puck in the net on my right and my left, so I usually look for them, but if that’s not open I am going to take the shot myself.”
Like many of the new Eskimos, Wildman is starting to feel comfortable on the ice.
“The guys have been great in the room, making me feel welcome,” he said. “That always helps out on the ice and now that I have some goals under my belt, with will build my confidence up for the rest of the season.”
Wildman is confident that the offensive explosion the Eskimos demonstrated on Saturday night could be just the tip of the iceberg.
“We have got scoring depth throughout all four lines,” he said.
“It’s nice not having to rely on one or two lines. If that keeps going the rest of the season I think we will be in pretty good shape.”
Gagne was impressed with both Poulin-Roy and Wildman.
“They played extremely well,” Gagne said.
“Wildman, it’s only been a few weeks that he has been working out with us and his conditioning is getting better.
“He’s getting a little feel of the game.
“We had been talking about him before the game and said he has been working really hard in practice this week and he got compensated for it tonight.”
For Levesque, it was his first goal in the NOJHL.
“That’s nice,” Gagne said. “They gave him the puck. It was his first Junior ‘A” goal.
“He works extremely hard. He’s really attentive towards our program. He really, really works hard. He’s a great kid on the ice and off the ice.”
The Beavers got two goals from Corey McEwan and one each from Samuel Wilbur, Cray Roberge, Myckauly Melanson, Philip Keenainak-Verreault, Paul Muio, and Adam Newkirk.
“You know what, they came at us,” Gagne said. “Every time we made a little mistake, either if it was in front of the net, or in the neutral zone, for some reason they found the back on the net.
“I am going to give them credit. They shot and they knew that our goalies were not up to par tonight and they really did take advantage of it.”
Poulin-Roy was also impressed by the way Blind River kept battling back every time they fell behind by two or three goals.
“They just kept going and they never gave up,” he said.
Both starting goaltenders – the Eskimos Etienne Roy and the Beavers Brandon Currie – were pulled during the game.
Roy was yanked with 7:56 to play in the second period, after the Beavers scored to tie the game at 5-5.
Currie, meanwhile, was lifted with 12:57 to play in the final period.
The Eskimos held a 4-2 advantage after the first period of play, but the teams were deadlocked at 5-5 heading into the final period.
Eskimos note: An Eskimos fan had to be attended by paramedics and was taken out of the arena on a stretcher after suffering a fall early in the first period of play. There was no news on the identity of the fan, or his condition, as of press time … The Eskimos outshot the Beavers 40-33 … Blind River was three-for-seven on the power play, while the Eskimos were one-for-two … The Eskimos took 34 minutes in penalties, including 10-minute misconducts to Kevin Walker and Brandon Windsor, while the Beavers were assessed 14 minutes including a 10-minute misconduct to Dean Gordon … The Eskimos next game is Wednesday night in Sudbury, against the Nickel Barons, while their next home game will be Saturday night against the North Bay Trappers.