The Abitibi Eskimos beat the Sudbury Cubs 7-6 Saturday night in a nailbiter at the Jus Jordon Arena in Iroquois Falls.
The W moves them into a tie for first in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Eastern division with the Cubs. Each team currently has 12 points, but the Cubs have played two more games.
The Eskis coach was pleased with the team’s performance against their rivals from Sudbury.
“Tonight was a wake-up call,” said Paul Gagne.
“We just played two games against Kirkland Lake, but the Cubs are much stronger and are at a whole different level. I’m very happy that the guys put everything on the table tonight and played with intensity, perserverance and persistance.
“It’s simple,” added the coach. “Hockey is a game of mistakes and we had one less mistake tonight.
“We have a lot to work on still, particularly in the defensive zone. We were running around a bit and that needs to stop if we’re going to stay on top.”
Marc-Alain Begin scored the game winner with just under three minutes remaining.
Eskis’ captain Richard Therrien got hauled down in front of the Cubs’ goalie, but still managed to get a shot off from his awkward position lying on the ice. He then fought off two Cubs’ defenders behind the net and set Begin up for the winner.
The goal marked Begin’s sixth point in the game. He now sits tied with Cubs’ Jordan Carroll for the most points in the league, with 32.
Cubs players Sebastien Leroux and Drew MacMillan had beat Eskis’ JP Fecteau twice in the third, to tie things up at six.
Delmer Moses, Begin and Preston Lacasse scored for the Eskis in the second, in this see-saw battle, after the Cubs Nick Esposto and Carroll found the back of the home team’s net.
Begin opened the scoring two minutes into the second, after a nice feed from Moses.
Sudbury’s Jamie Haines and and Jason Lacroix scored in the opening 20 minutes, along with Abitibi’s Moses and Lacasse.
Therrien is proud of his team’s play against the Cubs. He believes things are falling into place for everyone and the team has really gelled together.
“Everyone worked hard tonight,” the team’s captain said. “It was a really solid effort. Things are falling into place for us. Everyone is playing the system and buying into everything.
“The biggest thing tonight did for the guys was give us confidence. We just have to keep working hard, because it’s paying off.”
The Eskis remain undefeated at the Jus Jordon arena this season with a spotless 5-0 record.
Therrien credits the energy at the Igloo for the team’s success.
“It means everything to the guys to do well at home. We have the best fanbase in the league, without a doubt. It’s always so special when we can produce for them.”
The Eskis play a rare game in Timmins, facing North Bay Friday night at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex and then return to the Igloo Saturday night, to face off against the Blind River Beavers.