The Abitibi Eskimos skinned the Blind River Beavers and increased their cushion on first place in their division.
The Eskis are at the top of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Eastern Division after defeating the Beavers 10-3 Saturday night at the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls
Abitibi now has 18 points, while the second place team, Sudbury Cubs, have 13.
Both teams have played 13 games.
The Eskis players admitted to being unsure what to think going into the match against the Western Division’s last place team.
“We weren’t sure what to expect from these guys,” said Marc Cashmore, the team’s assistant coach. “They beat us 3-2 earlier in the year.
“They were also coming off a loss to K.L. (Kirkland Lake). I told the guys that we need to take control of things early because they’ll be hungry for a win.”
And Cashmore’s words must have made a mark on the players, because the Eskis took control from the opening faceoff.
Preston Lacasse got his team on the board three minutes into the game on the powerplay, with assists from Delmer Moses and Marc-Alain Begin.
Richard Therrien, Lacasse, Zach Innes and Guillaume Rheault also found the back of the Beavers’ net in the opening 10 minutes and the Eskis built up an overwhelming 5-0 lead before the ice had even dried from the opening flood.
Blind River’s Joel McCauley finally got his team on the score sheet 11 minutes into the first, but that was the only shot JP Fecteau let by him in the opening 20 minutes.
Eskis’ Justin Kord scored the final goal of the first, giving his team a 6-1 lead going into the break.
Forward Daniel Villeneuve believes a major reason why the Eskis are playing together so well these days is because the players are confident in their coaching staff and are listening to what they’re being taught.
“We’re finally sticking to the program that Paul has been teaching us,” said Villeneuve.
The Eskis player said the team’s systems haven’t changed too much. The players are just thriving off their coach’s energy and are more committed than ever.
“I played here last year, but I’ve only been here for four games this season,” continued Villeneuve. “I haven’t noticed many changes to the team since last year. The guys are just playing Paul’s system more and listening to what he’s teaching us.
“Everyone’s on the same page, from our breakouts to our offence.
“We have the same plan every game. Everyone’s playing the system and knows their roles.”
Abitibi continued dominating their opponents in the second.
Beavers Anthony Butorac beat Fecteau with an unassisted marker two minutes into the second, but Eskis Kord and Therrien also scored, to give their team an 8-2 lead going into the third.
Anthony Butorac, Kord and Therrien each collected a single marker during the middle frame, giving the Eskis a six-goal lead going into the final period.
“The last part of the game was just about keeping our heads in control and not taking stupid penalties,” said Cashmore.
“The guys stuck with the program for the whole game and that was great to see. They stuck with their assignments and stuck together as a team.
“Paul gets back next week and I’m sure we’ll talk about some things to implement for future games, a few more drills and plays.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year. After a couple of weeks introduce something new. Just, keep working towards the playoffs.”
The Beavers also opened the scoring in the third when Karl Wittimer snuck one by Fecteau at the 2:21 mark.
The Eskis added a bit more salt into their opponents’ wounds before the end of the game.
Begin scored at 8:36 and Rheault hit twine for the second time in the contest, at 14:11.
The winning team outshot their opponents 40-30 through 60 minutes of play. The win also marked the seventh-traight win for the Eskis at the Igloo this season. They remain undefeated at home.
The Eskis will get a bit of a rest since they don’t play again until Saturday, against the Soo Eagles at the Igloo.