Gagne: ‘take care of your house first’

TIMMINS – The Eskimos will be seeing two extremes this weekend when they host the last place Bobcats and visit the second place Trappers.

Abitibi will welcome the Elliot Lake Bobcats on Saturday at the Jus Jordan Arena, then travel to North Bay on Sunday for a NOJHL afternoon game.

At practice this week, the Eskimos held a video session in response to the 5-1 loss to the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners last Saturday, which stretched their current losing streak to three games.

“It was an eye-opener for the players in what to do and what not to do,” said Eskimos general manager and head coach Paul Gagne. “We used video before, but after the 5-1 loss to Kirkland Lake, I thought we were due for an eye-opener.

“It’s always interesting when they get to see the things they’ve done right or the things they don’t do right. There’s no doubt when it comes to video because you see it. I think we’re well prepared for this weekend.”

The coaching staff continues to hammer home the concept of patience, defensive zone responsibility and sustaining a heavy forecheck.

Abitibi went 0-6 on the powerplay and gave up a shorthanded goal versus Kirkland Lake, while flinging 40 shots on the Gold Miners net, albeit most of the shots were from poor angles and low-percentage areas of the ice.

“We worked on the tactical side of things and we worked on our powerplay,” said Gagne. “It’s about reviewing over and over again. I think the players are ready for it.”

Elliot Lake currently sits in last place with eight wins in 32 games.

They’ve struggled to score all season and have the second worst goals against with 166.

Abitibi leads the season series 3-1 with the Eskimos only loss (6-2) to the Bobcats coming on Oct. 5 in Elliot Lake.

On the flip side, North Bay sits in second place with 22 wins in 34 games.

The Trappers have owned the Eskimos in the 2012-13 campaign, winning all three meetings between the clubs.

The Trappers also have a hot goalie in their midst with Chris Dodds leading the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League with 18 wins, a .922 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average.

“One of the biggest things, even for Saturday, is we have to limit our mistakes to give us a chance to win,” said Gagne. “That needs to be done. Whether it’s North Bay or Elliot Lake, it’s the same thing. If we can eliminate the mistakes the odds of winning are higher.”

The coaching staff has emphasized patience, responsibility and the role momentum plays in the outcome of the game.

“If we can be patient, we’ll get our chances and the momentum picks up,” said Gagne. “The odds of losing are higher for the team that loses momentum and focus.

“We’re still having fun out there though. We emphasized to the team to work hard, have fun and be patient because we don’t have the big top scorer that we had before, but we’re hanging in there and we need to play some tight hockey.

“It’s an old saying but it’s true, if we play our game our chances are better and then we can adjust to what the opponent is doing. Take care of your house first.”

Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.