IROQUOIS FALLS - Captain Kevin Walker scored a goal and added an assist to the Abitibi Eskimos to a 4-3 victory over the Powassan Voodoos at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
“(Brady) Clouthier was in the corner doing all the work and I really can’t take much credit for it,” Walker said of his goal that staked the home side to a 1-0 lead 6:39 into the opening period.
“All I did was give him a holler and he threw it in the slot and I got a shot off quick and it went in.”
Clouthier had a goal and an assist for the Eskimos, while the third member of the line, Ryan Tront, had a goal and an assist.
“We all play similar styles,” Walker said.
“We like to get down and dirty in the corners and just work it down low. We have great chemistry on and off the ice, so it works out great for us.”
Saturday night’s game was physical, with the two teams combining for 48 minutes in penalties on 23 infractions — including two 10-minute misconducts and four game misconducts.
“There were a few words exchanged out there tonight, but on our side we were telling the boys to keep their cool,” Walker said.
“It came down to the wire at the end and we really didn’t want that.”
Brenden Locke’s seventh goal in three games put the Eskimos up 2-0 heading into the first intermission and then Ryan Tront’s goal early in the second period increased the home side’s advantage to 3-0.
The Eskimos appeared to be cruising at that point, but the Voodoos were not about to lie down without a fight.
Michael Silveri beat Eskimos goalie Chet Tooker with a shot midway through the second period and to the two sides went to the dressing room for the second intermission with the Eskimos up 3-1.
Things got even more interesting when Steve Harland stuffed a rebound past Chet Tooker on the power play 6:55 into the final period to make it a 3-2 game.
Cloutheir broke in all alone on Voodoos goalie Ben Auger and roofed a wrist shot to restore the Eskimos’ two-goal lead, however.
That goal would eventually prove to be the game winner, as Tyler Gervais-Rolfe scored for the Voodoos with just under eight minutes to play to make it a one-goal game again.
Powassan kept pressing, looking for the equalizer until there was just 1:08 to play in regulation and they were handed not one, but two costly penalties on the same play.
Silveri received a two-minute minor for checking from behind and a game misconduct., while Aaron Dart received a roughing minor when he retaliated after Walker kicked his helmet into the corner following the initial scrum.
Then, 23 seconds later Dart received an additional 10-minute misconduct, while Kyle Moore receive a game misconduct for inciting.
The never-say-die Voodoos pulled Auger with 15.5 seconds remaining and a faceoff in the Eskimos’ end, even though they were two-men short at the time.
They were nearly rewarded for the bold move, but Tooker came up with a big save and the Eskimos were able to keep the puck along the boards and kill off the clock.
“They really pushed us until the end,” Walker said.
“We made a few simple mistakes. It was a five-on-three and you have to move the puck there, but a win is a win and we are just happy to get those two points.”
Neither Voodoos head coach Scott Wray, or his assistants Geeno Robinson and Jamie Young were willing to answer questions on the record following the final buzzer, simply suggesting that the questions be posed to the referees instead.
Eskimos assistant coach and general manager Dan Dube was pleased to see his squad secure another two points with the next four games being on the road, but he was not happy with the way the game ended.
“We had a five-on-three in the defensive zone and we ended up having a faceoff (that we lost) and we addressed that in the dressing room after the game,” he said.
“That is unacceptable because we just had to kill an extra 30 seconds and it would have been game over.
“It is not going to happen again.”
Dube was much happier with the way his team started the game.
“We played a really good first period,” he said.
“After playing yesterday, we came out strong in the first period. Our defence was pretty good back there in the first period and then we got into a little bit of an injury bug.
“We were down to four defencemen to finish the game.”
Nick Minerva was ejected from the game, along with Traven Reed of the Voodoos, with less than a minute to play in the first period after they went toe-to-toe for a good two minutes.
Michael Rancourt then went down with what appeared to be a lower-body injury in the second period.
“I was proud of those four defencemen — Joshua DeJulio, Brennan Roy, Ryan Kerr and Kealey Cummings — who were left and how they battled out there,” Dube said.
The assistant coach also had kind words for Walker, a former defenceman who has made a successful transition to the forward lines this season.
“Everything we ask for him to do, he does it,” Dube said.
“He plays his position well out there and he does it all. This weekend he got in a fight (Friday night against Mattawa), he got a goal and he got an assist (known as a Gordie Howe hat trick if it is accomplished in the same game). Walker really played well this weekend.
“He just brings that extra energy for us.”
Like Friday night’s game in Timmins against Mattawa, the Eskimos had plenty of scoring opportunities Saturday night.
“(Auger) saw a lot of rubber and Chet saw a lot of rubber out there too,” Dube said.
“The shots were pretty close and the goalies played well and there weren’t too many rebounds out there.”
Tooker made 34 saves while earning the victory and Auger turned aside 39 shots while being tagged with the loss.
Dube realizes the importance of the two victories the Eskimos picked up on the weekend with a tough three-game road trip looming next weekend.
“We talked about it this week, that it was important to get these two victories this weekend,” he said.
“It gives us a little bit of momentum for this trip, which should produce some team bonding. It will be our first road trip with three games in three nights.
ESKIMOS NOTES — Scott Peng played his first two games in an Eskimos uniform on the weekend. The 18-year-old Markham native comes to the Eskimos from the Toronto Nats Midget ‘AAA’ program … The Eskimos went 1-9 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 1-5 with the man advantage … Official attendance was 436, lowest for any Eskimos home game this season … The Eskimos next game will be Friday night when they take on the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie. Their next home game will be on Saturday, Oct. 18, when they host the Cochrane Crunch at the Jus Jordan Arena in the second game of a home-and-home series.