The Abitibi Eskimos were able to hold off a late-game onslaught by the East-leading Sudbury Cubs and skate away with an overtime victory.
Eskis forward Marc-Alain Begin scored four minutes into the extra frame, to give his team a 6-5 win at the Jus Jordan Arena in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.
The win moved the Eskis into a tie for second with the North Bay Trappers.
Begin had a bit of an advantage when he got the puck at the top of the Cubs’ slot during his team’s powerplay.
“Their goalie and I grew up in the same hometown and a friend of mine told me that he always goes down when anyone takes a shot,” said Begin. “So, I knew right away I was going top cheese on him.”
The Eskis started strong, opening up a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Karl Spenard scored first on the powerplay and then Richard Therrien added his team’s second marker of the opening period.
Sudbury quickly evened things up in the second with two powerplay goals, showing the Eskis players and coaches why they’re the top team in the east division this year.
“I think we showed a lot of character tonight,” said Begin. “We kept working hard even when they came back and tied it up, and it paid off. They weren’t giving up and they made that obvious.”
The Eskis scored three consecutive goals after the visitors tied things up at two.
Delmer Moses, Nicolas Fournier and Jordan Delaurier each scored and the home team was sitting comfortably on a 5-2 lead.
But, the Cubs didn’t just roll over and call it quits.
They added two more before the end of the second and pushed the game into overtime when Jordan Deppisch scored at 9:39 of the third to even things up at five.
The Eskis coach was very happy with his team’s overtime victory.
“We’ve been working a lot on our conditioning lately and that showed itself tonight,” said Paul Gagne, following Saturday’s game.
“If we played the last two games the same way did tonight, we would have had much different results. If we had played 70% of the way we did tonight over the weekend, we would have won at least two out of three games.”
Gagne was referring to the Eskis play from last weekend. They played three games in three nights and lost each one.
The coach knows his team is capable of beating every team in the league, but said the players need to start realizing it themselves.
“We have to believe we can play really good hockey,” he said. “The guys rebounded and played some great hockey against a really good team tonight.”