TIMMINS – The Elliot Bobcats will make their first visit to the Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday Arena for the first time.
Last time these two teams met was Oct. 5 in Elliot Lake when the Bobcats defeated the Eskimos 6-2.
The Bobcats tagged then-Eskimos goalie Marc Audet for five goals in the second, which swayed the tide of the game in favour of Elliot Lake.
“We played good hockey, but in the second they had five goals on six or seven shots, which isn’t good,” said Eskimos head coach and general manager Paul Gagne. “At the time it happened we had a young goalie. It was a total collapse in the second. It happens though.”
Elliot Lake had peppered Abitibi’s former netminder with 40 shots when it was all said and done.
That game was the start of a three-game road swing, which saw the Eskimos following up the loss to the Bobcats with a 6-3 win over the Blind River Beavers and a 7-3 loss to the Soo Thunderbirds.
The Eskimos (5-10-0-1) will be looking to string together consecutive wins, following an 8-5 victory over the Sudbury Nickel Barons last Saturday.
Elliot Lake (3-12-0-0) is mired in a five-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 7 when the Bobcats edged the Trappers 3-2 in North Bay.
It begins with the Eskimos imposing their will on the visiting club.
“What we have to do is to continue to play the way we’ve been playing,” said Gagne. “We’ve been playing in the offensive zone more often and that’s putting more pressure on our opponents.”
Nicholas Tassone (5-5-10), Daniel Carter (3-9-12) and Steve Gaul (3-4-7) are among the Bobcats top producers this season and the Eskimos will be looking to shut them down.
“We want to put pressure on the puck carrier and use our speed to get a lot of scoring opportunities,” said Gagne. “Our game plan is going to be lets perfect our program and by doing so we’ll be aware of who is on the ice at all times. When these players are on the ice, we’ll be paying attention to them. Maybe finishing the checks, isolating them, putting puck pressure on them and not letting them freewheel with the puck.
“We have been tightening up in the defensive zone as well and we just can’t give them big shots from inside the box. We’ve been working on that.”
The Eskimos will be without the services of forward Dustin Jesseau (4-6-10) due to his request for a trade following off-ice issues.
“He asked for a trade because he was not happy with his teammates and the team,” said Gagne. “We’re working to get somebody in.”
Winger Zach Innes (3-9-12) will be filling the spot left behind by Jesseau and will be the second line centre.
Currently the Eskimos hold sixth place in the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League, five points ahead of the Bobcats and one point behind the Beavers who played against the Thunderbirds Friday night in Sault Ste. Marie.
Following Saturday’s game, the Eskimos will travel to North Bay to suit up against the Trappers on Sunday.
“Right now we’ve added a couple of things we’ve worked on in practice,” said Gagne. “We’re going to work on it this weekend. Hopefully the kids will buy into what we’re asking from them. That’s what I want. If you do all that, the odds of winning are greater.”
Puck drop on Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.