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Eskimos seek consistent goaltending

IROQUOIS FALLS - The Abitibi Eskimos are hoping that former Kapuskasing Flyer Sylvain Miron will provide the consistency that was missing from their goaltending picture in 2012-13.

“He is a very consistent goaltender, a local kid who loves to play the game and we are hoping that we can play him lots,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne, prior to the opening of the team’s main training camp at the Jus Jordan Arena on Monday night.

“He had a great camp (tryout camp held in Timmins Aug. 6-9).”

The Eskimos used five goaltenders — Marc Audet, Ethienne Roy, Jackson Winkler, Jeremy Laux and Darren Cave — during the 2012-13 regular season, before heading into the playoffs with Winkler and Laux.

Winkler, however, is too old to play in the NOJHL this season and Laux, who holds duel Swiss and U.S. citizenship, has opted to play in the United States this season.

At 5-11, 160 lbs., Miron is not a big goaltender, but that didn’t stop him from having success in the Great North Midget League.

The 18 year old posted a 2.57 goals against average, while playing 1,049 minutes for the Flyers during 2012-13 regular season.

During the playoffs, Miron had a 3.22 goals against average while playing 540 minutes.

Miron was even better during the 2011-12 season, when he posted a 2.26 goals against average, while playing 1,088 minutes.

He followed that up by posting a 3.24 goals against average while playing 371 minutes in the playoffs. Miron broke into the GNML during the 2010-11 season, posting a goals against average of 3.48 while playing 982 minutes.

“I am a hard-working guy and I am always going to give 110%,” he said. “I like to stay square to the puck and do the best that I can.”

Miron is well aware of the Eskimos desire to have consistent goaltending throughout the entire 2013-14 campaign.

“Every game, an hour before the game, I do my ritual, the same stretching, the same warm up, the whole season,” he said.

Miron expects the competition level in the NOJHL to be a little bit more intense than in the GNML.

“The pace will be faster and there will be older guys, so there will be harder shots, quicker plays, quicker reactions.”

Having said that, Miron feels the fundamentals he learned while playing with the Flyers will stand him in good stead this year.

“No matter who is shooting it, you should still be able to stop the puck,” he said.

While many Northeastern Ontario youngsters pattern their play after French Canadian goaltenders, Miron found a different source of inspiration in the National Hockey League.

“I try to pattern my game after (New York Ranger Henrick) Lundqvist, he is one of the goalies I like,” he said.

“He plays really good in net and I find I play a little bit like him.”

If Miron brings as much success to the Eskimos as Lundquist has to the Rangers, they will be in good shape.

The other spot on the roster remains open, with three other goaltenders looking to lock it down.

One of those goaltenders, Julien Duchesnes, also played for the Flyers during the 2012-13 GNML campaign.

The 18 year old posted a 2.92 goals against average, while playing 1,029 minutes.

During the playoffs, Duchesnes, 5-11, 150 lbs., posted a 3.86 goals against average, while playing 140 minutes.

Duchesnes posted a 3.31 goals against average during 1,021 regular season minutes with the Flyers during the 2011-12 season and a 3.00 goals against average during 60 playoff minutes.

He broke into the GNML with the Timmins Majors during the 2010-11 season, posting a 5.50 goals against average while playing 273 regular season minutes and a 6.63 goals against average while playing 172 playoff minutes.

The other two goaltenders in camp at Shawn Grabowski, from Winnipeg, and Devon Caron-debastos, who spent the 2012-13 season with the Timmins Majors.

Caron-debastos posted a goals against average of 4.15, with one shutout, while playing 1,606 minutes during the regular season and a goals against average of 3.00, with one shutout, while playing 240 minutes during the playoffs.

“They are going to be evaluated and there are always goalies who are getting sent down from the OHL, or the QMJHL,” Gagne said.

“It’s a domino effect.

“We are going to try and be patient with our other goalie spot right now, because we are happy with Mr. Miron.”

Regardless of who winds up sharing the goaltending duties with Miron, the coach will be looking for consistency.

“You couldn’t always blame the goaltending last year,” Gagne said. “We had a young defence and you seem to have a few more mistakes with young defencemen.

“So, we need a quarterback back there and Sylvain Miron is one player who is going to help us out.

“And if we can get an experienced goalie, and that’s what we are looking for, or one of those three who are here tonight … you never know … we might go that direction, also.”