Martin Bilodeau turned in a stellar effort on Friday night as the Eskis sent the Blue Devils home with their tails between their legs.
The Abitibi Eskimos of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League redeemed themselves with a 4-2 victory at the McIntyre Arena against the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils.
“I think the players were a little nervous tonight because of the injuries and the loss last week, but we worked hard in practice,” said Eskis head coach and general managerPaul Gagne. “Luckily we got things rolling right away by getting that first goal which carried the momentum in our favour.”
The Eskis outshot the Blue Devils 28-23 through three periods, but it was the focused play of Bilodeau that kept them in the game.
“I made some good saves and my team-mates were there defensively,” said Bilodeau. “It feels pretty good to win tonight. Last game wasn’t my best game, but tonight was my very good game.”
In the first period, the Eskis and the Blue Devils played a tight checking game, with neither side willing to give an inch.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but I liked the way we played,” said Gagne. “The guys were composed, we had good line-changes, they were changing on the fly, nobody was out there too tired. It just goes to show that there was a little tension there. There weren’t too many risks, they were trying to play more defensive, but as soon as we scored it really made the difference, shifting the momentum to our side.”
Justin Kord opened the scoring for the Eskis in the second period with his seventh goal of the season. The pesky forward drove to the net, picked up the rebound and shot it past Blue Devils goalie Tye Greschuk. Kord’s team-mates Richard Therrien and Jacob Kord picked up assists on the play.
“I think everybody was trying to adapt to the small rink style of play and see what each other was going to bring,” said Blue Devils head coach and general manager David Gillespie. “I thought we did okay in the first, we contained them well, there were small chances here and there, which is typical for small-rink play.
Eskis skater Jordan Delaurier doubled up the Eskis lead when his shot found its way past Greschuk. Justin Kord picked up the assist on the pretty play.
“We just kept the momentum going,” said Gagne.
Through 40 minutes the Eski’s out shot the Blue Devils 26-21.
The Eskis extended their lead to three-goals early in the third period when Troy Columbus picked up his third goal in the season.
“Young Columbus played really well tonight,” said Gagne. “He logged a lot of ice-time tonight, so it’s nice to see the kids who normally don’t get that opportunity, play so well.”
The game was fairly tame compared to last week as both teams had a combined 16 minutes in penalties.
Karl Spenard extended the Eskis lead with his sixth goal of the year.
Minutes later, the Blue Devils nearly repeated what they did last week when they game back from a large deficit and won 4-3 in overtime.
Jordan Turbide found a kink in Bilodeau’s armour when his shot found the back of the net. Turbide notched his eighth goal through eight games since joining the Blue Devils.
The goal was the only one allowed by the Eskis on the power-play.
Less than two minutes later, Justin Eddy cut the Eskis lead in half when he let a crisp shot go that beat Bilodeau.
“It was a good shot,” said Bilodeau. “The second one was a pass in front of the net and a good shot on goal. Next game I’m going to be more ready and I think I may just get a shut out.”
Gillespie added, “We shot the puck. We always come strong near the end of the game. For the first half of the game we got away from the stuff that we’re good at. Near the end of the third period, we started to get the puck deep again, but unfortunately it was too little too late.”
The Eskis head toSudburyon Wednesday for a game against the Cubs, before heading home to take on the Blind River Beavers inIroquoisFalls.
Following the game against the Beavers, the Eskis embark on a four game road swing.
The Eskis currently sit one point back of the first place Cubs in the eastern division.