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Eskimos lose heartbreaker

Game 5 was going to come down to one goal and it did.   The North Bay Trappers of the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League eliminated the Abitibi Eskimos 4-3 in overtime.   It was a close checking contest from the get-go as neither club offered up much time and space.   “It could have gone either way, we’re very fortunate,” said Tom McCarthy head coach of the Trappers. ” We battled them all year, and it seemed like they had our number all year.”   The Trappers drew first blood in Game 5 with a powerplay goal from Cory Sellers 57 seconds into the game. The Eskis were playing catch up ever since.   “We couldn’t get on a roll,” said Paul Gagne, head coach and general manager of the Eskimos. “We had our opportunities tonight and so did they.”   After 20 minutes of play, the Trappers were up 1-0 and outshooting the Eskimos 15-9.   Preston Lacasse was in the lineup after serving a four-game suspension, along with Chris Gartner and Jake Ryan. With the extra infusion of speed, the Eskimos were able to utilize the dump and chase to create few chances in the offensive zone.   “We seemed to shut down a few of their attributes that maybe eliminated their high scoring power that they’ve had all year,” said McCarthy.   The Trappers countered with a speedy transition game, which was causing problems for the Eskimos defence as they got caught out of position several times throughout the contest. Without the stellar play of Eskimos netminder J.P. Fecteau the score could have been a lot different.   “Fecteau kept us in there,” said Gagne.   But the Trappers kept coming, and the Eskimos kept responding. After 40 minutes the game was tied 2-2.   “We were concerned on playing simple hockey and keeping ourselves in the game going into the third, which consequently it was a 2-2 tie,” said McCarthy. “That was sort of what our gameplan was coming into this game.”   Carmine Alfano got the start between the pipes for the Trappers and played solid, keeping the Eskimos at bay as they went hard to net when the opportunity presented itself.   The Eskimos top line of Lacasse, Richard Therrien and Marc-Alain Begin accounted for five points in the contest. Begin registered two helpers, while Lacasse had a goal and Therrien lit-up the lamp twice.   Trappers captain Brad Gehl scored twice and had three points.   Trappers forward Brandon Janke opened the scoring in the third period just 2:22 into the final frame of regulation.   Therrien countered about four minutes later when he picked up the loose puck in front of Alfano and made no mistake burying the tying goal.   Neither team would score, which launched the game into overtime and frayed the nerves of some of the 659 spectators in attendance.   Once again the Trappers captain came through for his club as Gehl slid the puck past a sprawling Fecteau 2:16 into the extra period.   “It seemed to be a little bit of a scrum off the faceoff, and one thing that we do very well is converge on the dot to help out,” said McCarthy. “There was sort of screen happening in front of their goalie. When you get into a situation like that, you want to shovel the puck to the net and have somebody arrive there for a rebound and consequently the goalie didn’t see it right away and it trickled down underneath him.”   Gehl said, “One of the best feelings yet. We battled hard tonight. We were up in the first, came out slow in the second, battled hard in the third and we sort of clicked in overtime.”   For some players on the Eskimos roster, like Fecteau, Karl Spenard, Nicolas Fournier, Begin, Chris Gartner, Delmer Moses and Lacasse, this will be there final game in the white, yellow and black.   “It’s sad to see for the 20-year-olds,” said Gagne. “It’s there last hurrah in junior hockey and to lose it in overtime again, is tough for them. It has to come to an end. It’s unfortunate it came like this. Seems like the hockey gods were not on our side.”   The Trappers are heading deeper into the playoffs after eliminating the Eskimos. They will take on the Sudbury Cubs in the Eastern Division final.   “I’m just proud our kids, how they battled, how they never quit and to win it on the road is a little extra special,” said McCarthy.