A quick start proved to be the difference as the Abitibi Eskimos built a 4-0 lead, en route to the 6-2 win over the North Bay Jr. “A” Trappers at Memorial Gardens on Sunday night.
This was the third straight game that the Traps were caught down by four goals and Trappers head coach Tom McCarthy wasn’t too pleased by that fact.
“I don’t know how many times you’re going to go to the well and think you’re going to pull it off and keep battling back and think that you’re going to win those kinds of hockey games.”
Stephen Klein made 18 saves in the loss. He was pulled in his debut against Sudbury but McCarthy wasn’t ready to post blame on his goaltender for the hard times.
“Statistically, it’s not sitting well but again, at the same time, I say it takes a hockey team to perform in front of a goaltender, goaltender plays as well as the team in front of him,” said McCarthy, “If were going to give up those point blank easy shots and back door goals and not pay attention to the most dangerous guy, which is the guy without the puck, were going to find ourselves in that situation and that commitment has to come and I know all year, it’s been 39 games, but we’ve seen that commitment on and off, on and off and it has gotten more consistent lately, but not in the beginning of the last three games.”
There was a hush on the Memorial Gardens crowd of 560 with about 5:00 left in the third, a hit by Ronnie George sent Eskis player Chris Gartner into the boards and onto the ice. Paramedics came to the scene and brought the fallen Eskimos player to the North Bay Regional Health Centre.
Both coaches said that it was a clean hit with a bad result.
“It was definitely just a body check about five, six feet away from the boards,” McCarthy described, “It certainly wasn’t a malice situation. (Gartner) fell a little awkwardly after the hit into the boards and as he fell into it on his shoulder, it sort of obviously took a lot of wind out of him and we were just grateful to see that he had movement and that he was breathing and talking and coherent at the time when he left the ice.”
“We hope that obviously that (there’s a) safe recovery and there isn’t anything too extensive there and I don’t wish that (incident to happen) for any hockey player, any athlete, any human being.”
Eskimos coach Paul Gagne gave an update on Gartner’s condition and talked about the incident.
“It was a good check, it wasn’t illegal or anything,” said Gagne, “(Gartner) put himself in a bad position so from what I hear from the trainers, there’s movement in his legs, he was moving his shoulders, the arms and he was responsive at the end there too so I’m hoping it’s all a precaution right now for the neck brace.”
“You just don’t want to see that happening to any player, being brought off the ice on a stretcher so all our thoughts were with him and we even talked a bit on the bench, we were shorthanded after that incident and we killed it off and we did it for Chris.”
As mentioned before, the Eskimos built a four goal cushion in the first period. It was the always potent power play that was working on all cylinders, as three of the four were scored on the man advantage.
Corey Hamel scored the first two goals, both on good setups by the Eskimos in the offensive zone at 6:19 and 9:48, respectively.
Jacob Kord would score on a rebound from the side of the net at 12:23 and Chris Green would net the last goal of the period at 13:10, off yet more pressure by the Eskimos power play.
The Trappers tried climbing back into it as Corey Klimas would score his first goal since November 23, a slap shot from the point at 1:56 brought the Traps to within three.
Djordje Lepasovic would get in the act with a point shot of his own, this time, on a Trappers power play at 4:35 and it was a two goal game.
Abitibi would extend their lead at 9:09, as a miraculous initial save by Klein would lead the puck to the stick of Hamel, who finished off the hat trick with the rebound goal and it was 5-2.
Gartner did score a goal before the hit, at 3:27 to round out the scoring.
– J.P. Fecteau got the start for Abitibi, a 42 save performance for the win.
– Marc-Alain Begin registered four assists and is only a point away from hitting the 100-point plateau.
– The shots were 44-24 for the Trappers.
– Matt Salituro extended his point streak to five games with an assist. He has registered three goals and six assists in that five game span.
NOJHL: Victory could be costly, as Gartner taken off on stretcher
By THOMAS PERRY The Daily Press
NORTHBAY— Abitibi Eskimos rolled over the North Bay Trappers 6-2 Sunday night, but the victory might prove costly.
Eskimos forward Chris Gartner, just back from a broken hand, was taken off the ice on a stretcher and transported to the hospital after crashing heavily into the boards.
Gartner, who has three goals and two assists in five games since returning from the injury list, had scored the Eskimos sixth goal early in the third period before being injured.
“Man what a check,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“He got hit and hit the boards … he went in hard … the game was delayed for a good 20 minutes.”
A CAT scan was performed, but no injuries were found.
“He is concussed and we are going to have to do the concussions tests (part of the NOJHL’s concussion protocol) to see how much time he will miss,” Gagne said.
The injury aside, the coach was pleased with his team’s effort inNorth Bay.
“We played pretty much the same way we did on Saturday, except the second period where we ran into some penalties,” Gagne said.
The Eskimos, in fact, took seven straight minor penalties in the frame.
“They were just foolish penalties and you can’t afford to do that,” Gagne said.
The Eskimos, who had jumped into a 4-0 lead in the first period were able to weather the storm, however, even though the Trappers cut the lead to 4-2 on goals by Corey Klimas and Djordje Leposavic.
“(Jordan) Delaurier was one of the key players on the penalty kill,” Gagne said.
“Three against five he did extremely well, came down low and helped out a few times and got the puck out.
“He did well on the faceoffs. It looked like he was working even harder than the opposition.”
Corey Hamel had scored twice to help Abitibi establish its early advantage, with Jacob Kord and defenceman Chris Green adding power-play goals.
Hamel completed his hat trick midway through the second period to take back any momentum North Bay may have gained an put the Eskimos in front 5-2.
The centre now has seven goals in his past three games.
“The first few games he played with (Marc-Alain) Begin and (Richard) Therrien, he thought he had to change his game a little bit,” Gagne said.
“But he’s a hard worker. He does the job in front of the net. He works hard defensively.
“I told him to just play his game … forechecking, great on the faceoffs, getting front of the net, all the dirty work.
“He gets a lot of what I like to call garbage goals from three feet in front of the net.”
Eskimos goaltender J.P. Fecteau had a solid outing, stopping 42 of he 44 shots the Trappers were credited with firing his way — including 24 in the second period.
“He did stand his ground,” Gagne said.
“The two shots, one five hole and other one from the blue line, I think he would like to get those goals back.
“But he did make some incredible saves. He made a couple extraordinary saves in the second period … right after they scored those two goals.
“Mr. (Brad) Gehl had a great chance right in front of the net and he put his pad out and made a great save.”
The Eskimos are off until Saturday when they will host the Soo Eagles at the Jus Jordan Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m.