GALLERY: Crunch top Eskis in OT

IROQUOIS FALLS - Dylan Sakatch’s third goal of the game, 2:03 into the first overtime period, lifted the Cochrane Crunch to a 5-4 win over the Abitibi Eskimos Saturday night at the Jus Jordan Arena.

“Everybody thought Mav (Joey Mavrin) got it, but I tipped it in from the high slot,” he said.

“It was a great shot by Mavrin.”

In one game, Sakatch — a Calgary native — exceeded the two goals he scored for the Crunch in the 16 regular-season games he played after being a late addition to the squad.

“The biggest thing for me tonight was intensity,” he said.

“Our whole line got switch up in the second period, so I was playing with (Jason) Berube and Staggs (Daniel Stagg). They played an awesome game.

“We were going very well out there. We started hitting and started playing with a gritty attitude and we started going to the net hard.

“That is really what got me my goals.”

Sakatch realizes how important it was for the Crunch to defeat the Eskimos in Game 2 and not allow them to gain any momentum in the series.

“It is huge,” he said.

“Being up 2-0 is way better than being tied at 1-1. We are going back home and hopefully we can do the same thing again.

“One of the biggest things in playoffs is momentum swings. Tonight there were a couple of times where they had some momentum, but I thought throughout the game we had the lion’s share of the momentum out there.”

Despite giving up their 4-3 lead late in the third period, the Crunch were a confident bunch heading into overtime.

“During the intermission (before the overtime period), I could tell that everyone was more focused,” he said.

“I was talking to people telling them to think about what they were going to do in overtime so that we could get the win tonight.

“All the guys were great tonight. Everybody played well.”

The victory gives the Crunch a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NOJHL East Division semifinal series heading back to the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane for Game 3 Monday night.

Crunch coach and general manager Ryan Leonard was not surprised that the overtime period ended so quickly.

“My speech before we came back onto the ice for the overtime was that it was going to be done in two shifts,” he said.

“I told them to shoot low on the blocker side, but the first couple of chances we had we shot glove side again.

“We had been shooting glove side all night and he (Tooker) was hot on the glove.

“Cordeiro shot glove side and hit the post, then we finally have a shot down low and it was tipped blocker side and went into the net.”

Leonard was impressed with the play of Tooker Saturday night.

“The kid faced 42 shots tonight by their count and 55 by our count and stopped at least three or four breakaways,” he said.

“He made some quality saves. That kid was keeping them in there. Kudos to him. It is tough coming in in that situation.”

The coach was not surprised to see the Eskimos put up such a tough fight, especially in their building.

“We knew tonight wasn’t going to be easy,” Leonard said.

“I have been saying for the last month that we needed guys like Sakatch to step up, guys like Berger to step up and that is what they did tonight.

“Dylan was driving to the net with urgency tonight and he was playing with a bit of an edge and throwing some nice hits out there. He was having fun and he was smiling.

“All of the kids were having fun and smiling.”

The Eskimos again held Cochrane’s 52-goal sniper Cody Gratton off the scoresheet, but his lack of offence has yet to matter in this series.

“He hasn’t gotten a goal in our first two games and we are up 2-0 in the series,” Leonard said.

“They (the Eskimos) can concentrate all they want on our first line. Our second line and our third line right now are winning the series.

“We were here to get a job done tonight and we got the job done.”

That couldn’t be said for an Eskimos team that played well enough at times to win the hockey game, but still find themselves down 2-0 heading to Game 3 at the Tim Horton Event Centre Monday night.

“It is hard for our players right now,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.

“You come back like that … but that’s hockey. It really is.

“Our players are really sour right now about it. They are disappointed, but we are just going to have to rebound and go into Cochrane and take care of business there.

“That’s all we have to think about.

“We played a hell of a game but we just have to make sure that in the defensive zone the puck gets out at all costs.”

Gagne was impressed by what he saw from the Crunch Saturday night.

“Their forecheck was relentless,” he said.

“They were on top of us, but we weren’t moving our legs. We weren’t competing at 100%. They were. They had puck possession for quite some time.

“We can’t play like that. We made too many turnovers in the second period. We weren’t making good dump ins.

“Then we started to play our game (in the third period). When we do play our game, we get some shots on net. We get some traffic in front of their net.

“When we do that, we are going to get our goals. That is where we scored our goals, from about three feet in front of the net.”

A power-play goal from Brennan Roy and an even-strength marker from Brennan Locke had staked the Eskimos to a 2-0 first period lead.

The Crunch were able to cut the lead to 2-1 before the end of the frame, however, as Josh Racek beat Eskimos goalie Chet Tooker with an even-strength marker.

Sakatch’s first of three goals on the night tied things up at 2-2 early in the second period.

Jake Holland beat Crunch goalie Brett Young to put the home side back in front, but the Crunch battled back again to tie things up at 3-3 on Dustin Cordeiro’s fourth goal of the playoffs.

Sakatch’s second goal of the night gave the visitors their first lead of the game early in the third period.

Locke’s second goal of the game tied things up at 4-4 and forced overtime.

The Crunch actually had two better chances to end the game in extra time before Sakatch’s heroics.

Early on, Cordeiro walked in and snapped a shot through a screen that eluded Tooker but dinged off the post to his left.

A few minutes later it was Berube who had the opportunity, but he drilled a shot just wide of the net.

What do the Eskimos need to do in Game 3 to ensure they get back in the series instead of finding themselves trailing 3-0?

“We need to put 60 minutes of good hockey together,” Gagne said.

“If we can make fewer mistakes, we are going to have a better chance of winning.”

Young made 32 saves for the Crunch to record his second victory of the playoffs, while Tooker turned aside 37 shots in a losing cause for the Eskimos.

NOJHL NOTES — Crunch defenceman Connor Lovie, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 1 Thursday night, did not dress for Cochrane … The Crunch lost forward Henry Berger midway through the first period when he was assessed a two-minute minor for checking from behind and a game misconduct … Eskimos defenceman Ryan Kerr, who stopped a shot with his face in Game 1, played with a full face shield … Eskimos goalie Logan Ferrington served the third game of the six-game suspension he picked up in the team’s second-last regular-season game … The Eskimos went 1-5 on the power play, while the Crunch were 0-4 with the man advantage … Ticket for Game 3 at the Tim Horton Event Centre will go on sale at 10 a.m. and will remain on sale until game time. Doors will open at 6 p.m.