Abitibi Eskimos scored early and often en route to a 9-3 romp over Temiscaming Royals in Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League action at the Jus Jordan Arena on Wednesday.
“We geared up for this game, we knew how important it was,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne, explaining how his team jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period.
“We were prepared and the boys started off early and wouldn’t stop. They just kept going and after a while we were scoring but the cheering was not banging sticks on the boards.
“We had a little bit of respect for the other team. We kept playing our game, but we showed respect for the players at the other end.”
The Royals had been experiencing a bit of turmoil of late, with a change of ownership in the past couple of weeks.
“They had 13 players to our 19, but one good thing about it is that we had all 19 players playing hard,” Gagne said.
“The third and fourth lines were scoring goals and working hard. They were keeping it down low. They were forechecking and it made it a lot easier for the other two lines.”
The third and fourth lines both earned some power-play time, as well, and responded with goals.
Erik Robichaud, the Eskimos’ leading scorer, netted his 25th and 26th goals of the season and added a pair of assists to key the offence for the home side.
Richard Therrien (18th and 19th) and Gary Rai (seventh and eighth) also scored twice for the Eskimos, with single markers coming off the sticks of captain Josh Clancy (his 25th of the season), Justin Kord (second) and Kevin Ratte (fourth).
Samuel Sanford-Roy, Andre Leclair and Matt Zawadzki replied for the Royals.
The Eskimos enjoyed a 5-2 advantage after the first period and increased their lead to 8-2 during the second period of play.
The second-place Eskimos were able to creep two points closer to the division-leading Sudbury Jr. Wolves, who lost 7-5 at home against the Soo Eagles.
J.P. Fecteau was in net for the Eskimos.