Eskis gun down Eagles

When you play on a line with Marc-Alain Begin and Richard Therrien you can sometimes get overlooked.

The Soo Eagles are not likely to overlook Corey Hamel any time soon, however.

Hamel scored twice and set up two goals to lead the Abitibi Eskimos to a 7-4 win over the visitors Saturday night at the Jus Jordan Arena.

“It feels pretty good, it’s always good to score some goals,” he said.

“I’m the kind of guy that goes to work in the corners and play it for them (Begin and Therrien) and they are going to go and finish it and get the goals.

“People don’t really notice me, but I do the hard work and we score like that.”

It’s a formula that has been working well for the Eskimos since Begin returned from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Begin, the Eskimos’ top point producer, has 26 goals on the season, while Therrien leads the team with 36 goals.

Therrien notched goals 35 and 36 during Saturday night’s game and, like Hamel, he also added two assists.

“It’s pretty awesome playing with those guys,” Hamel said.

“Begin is a pretty good player. He is good with the puck, so you just pass it to him and he does all the work.

“And Therrien can put the puck in the net, so I just feed it to him and he is going to score.

The two goals Hamel scored Saturday night — both on the power play — give him 10 on the season.

The Rouyn-Noranda native who had been playing with the Thunder Bay North Stars before joining the Eskimos earlier this season realizes beating a team like the Eagles is big.

“It feels pretty good,” he said.

“Now we are going to have confidence and we are going to be ready for the next game.”

Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne agreed.

“Right now, any victory that we get is a big victory,” he said.

“We started off a little shaky, once more, and the reason is we got into penalty situations and that killed momentum.

“In the first period they had 20 shots and at least seven of them came on the power play.

“We couldn’t use all of our players and momentum was shifting their way. It’s losing hockey when you are short handed like that.”

Defenceman Justin Kord’s power-play goal proved to be the game winner.

Chris Gartner, with his second goal in two games since returning from the injury list, and defenceman Karl Spenard, on the power play, had the other goals for the Eskimos. Shane Totten scored twice for the Soo, with speedster Brian Depp and Dallas McLaughlin netting the other goals for the Eagles.

The Soo actually enjoyed a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play, which led Gagne to lift starting netminder J.P. Fecteau in favour of Martin Bilodeau.

The Eskimos fought back to tie it 2-2, but Depp showed his speed, as he flew past Eskimos defender Chris Green and cut across the crease before lifting a backhand shot over Bilodeau.

“I thought we came out great in the second period and I would have to say one of the guys who got it going was our captain, Therrien,” Gagne said.“He was relentless on the puck in the corners and making things happen and he really got the team going. He really did.

“He showed leadership and it was incredible. Everybody just started to get in the game and finish checks.

“We had energy and it was a great victory. Everybody did well.”

Three straight power-play goals to start the third period put the Eskimos in front for good, however.

“It was all good positional play and using their heads,” Gagne said.

“It was the power play that got us going.”

Any thoughts the Soo had of a comeback after McLaughlin scored to cut the lead to 5-4 was short lived, as Gartner restored the two-goal advantage less than a minute later. Therrien then fired his second of the night into the open net after the Soo pulled goaltender Luis Puig in favour of an extra attacker.

Gagne was happy with the play of all of his lines Saturday night.

“No matter who I put out there, they should determination and they were hungry for the puck,” he said.

“They weren’t panicking and they felt confident, they made things happen and they limited their mistakes and that’s what any coach wants.”

Bilodeau stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced in the second and third period to earn the win after Fecteau had made 18 saves in the first period. Puig went the distance in goal for the Eagles, blocking 40 of 46 Abitibi shots.


• IGLOO NOTES — Defenceman Daniel Villeneuve, who was checked into the boards leading the Eagles Travis Payne taking the five minute major, was not injured on the play and finished up the game on the blue line. “It could have been worse,” Gagne said. “He felt it.” … The three stars of the game were Hamel, Therrien and Totten … Attendance for Saturday night’s game was 656 … The Eskimos will be off until Saturday when the play host to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at the Jus Jordan Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.