IROQUOIS FALLS - Brady Clouthier scored four goals to lead the Abitibi Eskimos to a 7-1 win over the Powassan Voodoos at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
The victory in their NOJHL regular-season opener may prove costly for the Eskimos, however.
Forwards Brenden Locke and Kyle Levis are facing likely suspensions after they became involved in an altercation that led to game misconducts.
Levis, who drew an assist on Harrison Jacobs first-period goal, received an instigator penalty to go along with a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct after he tangled with Nolan Smith, of the Voodoos, in the second period.
While that fight was going on, Locke and Michael Silveri, of the Voodoos, dropped their gloves and went at it a few feet away.
Levis is expected to draw a one-game suspension for his instigator penalty, while Locke is likely facing a two-game ban for becoming involved in a second altercation during the same stoppage in play.
While Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne was pleased with the final score, he was less than impressed with his team’s lack of discipline Saturday night.
“The undisciplined penalties that we took, the fighting penalties, the instigator penalty, the second man in fights, mean that we are losing players for the next two, or three games,” he said.
“I hate that at this time of year.
“Yes, we played half decent … whatever we asked for was done, we got some good scoring opportunities, our first line obviously played well with Clouthier getting four goals and our goaltending was solid.
“It’s nice to get a victory, but I hate the outcome. I really do.”
Levis and Locke were the second and third Eskimos kicked out of the game for fighting, as Harrison Jacobs was banished following a dust up with Brett Lepisto, of the Voodoos, earlier in the period.
“A player plays half a game and then he goes in and fights, in his first game ever as an Eskimo,” Gagne said.
“You know what, you are here to play hockey, not play 25 minutes of hockey.”
The Eskimos jumped out to a 3-0 on goals by Locke, Kezmin Madden and Jacobs, before Nathaniel McLeod, of the Voodoos, was finally able to stuff the puck behind Eskimos goalie Chet Tooker on the fourth try.
“You know what, he made three stops on the play and on the third one the rebound went way on the side and nobody was taking their man,” Gagne said.
“The defence heard about it. They were told to make sure they take their man and not just stand around.”
Madden, whose goal was the game winner, also picked up an assist on Clouthier’s third goal, sliding a cross-crease pass to his wide-open linemate.
“You know what, he surprises you at times,” Gagne said.
“He does some amazing things with the puck and that was one of those times when he surprised everybody in the rink.
“Clouthier really benefited from that one and just put it in the open net. Kez did all the work on that play.”
Gagne was also impressed with the work of another Eskimos rookie Saturday night.
“Joshua DeJulio was great, he played really good hockey, did his assignments, did everything we asked from him,” he said.
“Little things like that.”
Clouthier scored the first two of his four goals in the second period, as the Eskimos increased their advantage to 5-1, and then netted goals three and four in the third period, making the final score 7-1.
Clouthier, who suffered an injury in the first of the Eskimos four exhibition games and only resumed skating on Tuesday, took a period to get going Saturday night.
“To be honest, in the first period I didn’t think I had my legs with me, but then I got a couple of lucky rebounds and a couple of great plays by my teammates,” he said.
Clouthier was particularly impressed with the play Madden made to set him up for his third goal.
“It was definitely great vision on his part,” he said.
“I gave him the puck and I just started skated towards the net. It is rare to see confidence like that from a player playing his first Junior ‘A’ hockey game. He calmly put it around the defenceman and on my tape.”
The puck seemed to be following Clouthier around the ice, especially in the second and third periods.
“A couple went off my skates and another one rebounded right to me,” he said.
“It was just one of those nights where it was going my way.”
Clouthier is pretty confident the Eskimos are going to have a good season, despite their 1-3-0 record in exhibition play.
“In preseason there are still a lot of kinks you have to work out,” he said.
“We showed tonight that we were ready to go and I think we may have quieted a couple of people who may have said our offence was lacking.”
It was Gagne’s first look at the Voodoos and he felt they, like his team, were not well organized.
“Everybody was trying to hit and the definition of hitting is to hit the guy to obtain the puck, but I didn’t see that tonight,” he said.
“All I saw was hitting and hitting and hitting and it was not great hockey, not at all.”
Another positive the Eskimos can take from Saturday night’s game is that they were able to shut the Voodoos down and hold onto the lead once they had jumped in front.
“It was good, because we were trying to trap them a bit,” Gagne said.
“We had the lead and we could work on those things.
“There were a lot of positives (in Saturday night’s game), but you tend to look at the negatives because you want to correct the negatives.”
To say that Voodoos head coach Scott Wray was not happy with his team’s effort Saturday night would be an understatement.
“We fundamentally got beat everywhere, all over the ice,” he said.
“It was a frustrating game for everybody, especially the coaches.”
The Voodoos were coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Crunch in Cochrane Friday night and the difference in the team’s effort was like night and day.
“Not even close,” Wray said.
“We are looking for answers and we will look over tape and we will figure it out.”
Despite the one-sided loss, the coach was able to find a few positives from his team’s play.
“The (Aaron) Dart, McLeod, (Tyler Gervais-) Rolfe line played really well,” Wray said.
ESKIMOS NOTES — The Eskimos went 4-9 on the power play Saturday night, while the Voodoos were 0-6 with the man advantage … Tooker stopped 39 of the 40 shots the Voodoos fired his way to pick up the victory. Ben Auger, of the Voodoos, blocked 36 of the 42 shots he faced, while Randy Beauchant allowed one goal and made four saves … Official attendance for Saturday night’s game was 581 … The Eskimos will travel to Kirkland Lake Wednesday night for a game against the defending NOJHL champion Gold Miners, who shutout Mattawa 10-0 Friday night … The next home game for the Eskimos will be on Saturday night when they host the Sudbury Nickel Barons at the Jus Jordan Arena. Game time will be 7:30 p.m.