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Eskis headed home down 2-0

The Eskis find themselves in a less than desirable position.   The Abitibi Eskimos of the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League find themselves down 2-0 in their best-of-seven first-round series against the North Bay Trappers.   “Being down 2-0 is not the place we want to be,” said Paul Gagne, head coach and general manager of the Eskimos.   In Game 1, the Eskis were neck and neck with the Trappers for the entire 60 minutes, but lost 6-5 in overtime on Saturday at the Jus Jordan Arena.   “We didn’t play well in the first game at all,” said Gagne. “We had too many mistakes. Goaltending was not up to par and our players were not up to par.”   The Eskis travelled to North Bay on Sunday for Game 2, where they held a 4-2 lead heading into the final 20 minutes of the contest.   However, an early power play marker from Trappers forward Brad Gehl, followed by a goal from Cory Sellers effectively erased the Eskis lead, sending the game into overtime for the second straight night. Gehl made the game official when he lit the lamp 4:30 into the extra frame giving the Trappers a 5-4 win in overtime.   “We had every chance to win the game on Sunday night,” said Gagne. “We went into the third period up 4-2, then we took a couple of penalties and it cost us. Game 2 was our game to win.”   Gagne added, “That’s hockey. You have to be very disciplined. The unnecessary penalties will cost you. I’m a big believer in that.”   The Eskis find themselves in a must win situation when they host the Trappers on Thursday at the Igloo.   “It’s not a good position to be in, but the kids have faith and they know we can play much better,” said Gagne. “We can eliminate our mistakes because they’ve been doing that all year. We’ll have a couple practices before the game on Thursday, so we’ll be ready.”   It would be easy for the coaching staff to run the guys into the ground over the next few days, but Gagne believes there is a better way.   “This time of the year you want to work on progress, the next assignment and you want to keep things positive for the club,” said Gagne. “It’s a lot of positive reinforcement, you’ve got to build their confidence and self-esteem at this time of year. It’s not time to play around with emotions.”   The Trappers have been effective shutting down the ever-dangerous Marc-Alain Begin. In Game 1, the Trappers held the Eskis leading scorer to just one-assist, while in Game 2 Begin was held to one-goal.   “They’ve had a player shadowing him on five-on-five and four-on-five situations,” said Gagne. “They’re always inches away from him. It’s a tactical move on their part, but it opens up room for other players.”   Eskis captain Richard Therrien has benefited from all the extra attention his line mate has been receiving from the Trappers, as Therrien has registered three goals and four points in the series.   The Eskis are dealing with injuries to two key players. Jacob Kord didn’t play in the second and third periods of Sunday’s contest and his status is unknown for Thursday’s matchup with a lower body injury. Also, Jake Ryan is nursing an upper body injury. His status is unknown for Thursday.   “I have confidence we can turn things around,” said Gagne.   Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.   Eskis playoff schedule:   GM 1: Trappers 6 at Eskimos 5 OT GM 2: Eskimos 4 at Trappers 5 OT GM 3: Trappers at Eskimos – Mar. 8 7:30 p.m. GM 4: Eskimos at Trappers – Mar. 9 7 p.m. GM 5: Trappers at Eskimos – Mar. 11 7:30 p.m. (if needed) GM 6: Eskimos at Trappers – Mar. 14 7 p.m. (if needed) GM 7: Trappers at Eskimos – Mar. 15 7:30 p.m. (if needed)