IROQUOIS FALLS - The Abitibi Eskimos doubled a stubborn Blind River Beavers team 4-2 at the Jus Jordan Arena Sunday afternoon.
Brennan Roy’s even-strength goal at the 3:27mark of the third period snapped a 2-2 tie and put the home side ahead for good.
Dalton Bruce provided a little insurance when he netted a power-play goal 10 minutes later.
“We played a good third period,” said Eskimos assistant coach and general manager Dan Dube.
“We capitalized on our power play and we got momentum off of our power play.
“We played a good third period and we pulled it out, but hats off to Blind River. They worked hard. They got pucks in deep and they put a lot of pressure on our defencemen.
“They found a way to get under our skin, too. We were a little undisciplined at times, but we are happy that we got the two points.”
What did the Eskimos do differently after taking a 3-2 lead than they did after going up 1-0 and 2-1?
“They key was not letting up,” Dube said.
“They put more pressure on us and they were trying to make things happen, so we had to make sure that we stuck to our program.
“We stopped making individual mistakes and playing as individuals and we got some power play time, so that helped us to get some momentum.”
Dube was impressed with the play of defenceman Joe Olson, the Maple Ridge, B.C., native who was playing his second game in an Eskimos uniform and his first at the Jus Jordan Arena.
“Joe played an excellent game back there and you could see that he is getting a little bit more comfortable,” he said.
“He makes that good first pass, so we were happy with his play tonight.
“He boxes out guys really well and he has a long stick, so that gives him some extra room to make good plays.
“It is hard to get around guys like that we long sticks. He moves his feet well and one-on-one he doesn’t get beat very often.
“The guys were even saying that in practice, that he is a pretty good one-on-one player.”
The Eskimos have won both games the team has played since Olson was inserted into the lineup, but the 6-2 and 190-pounds isn’t about to take all of the credit for the recent success.
He was impressed with the compete level the Beavers displayed Sunday afternoon.
“They have obviously not had the best season so far, but they have had a pretty good weekend and they tried to come out hard today to try and get a win,” Olson said.
“Early on we made too many plays that complicated things a bit, instead of just sticking with the basics.”
Olson considers himself to be a “defensive defenceman” and he does not shy away from the rough going.
“I think that is on point, pretty good,” he said.
“I have always been a defensive defenceman and tried to put up a few points whenever I could, but I think my strong suit is in the defensive zone.
“I enjoy playing a physical style.
“I think it gets you into the game and gets your teammates into the game, for sure.
“Big hits are huge. They get the boys going on the bench and gets momentum going your way.
“They can also put some fear into the other team maybe make them keep their head down.”
During his first two games as an Eskimo, the 19-year-old Olson has been paired mainly with rookies Joshua DeJulio and Nick Hautanen.
“So far it has been really good,” he said.
“This seems to be a very strong team and it is nice to be on a team where goal scoring definitely isn’t a problem.”
Olson appears to be a player who does not panic easily and takes the time to read the play before just dumping the puck.
“I think I see the ice pretty well from the back end there and I like to make plays happen instead of just chasing after the puck,” he said.
Prior to the third period, every time the Eskimos took a one-goal lead the Beavers would net the equalizer a short time later.
That pattern started when the Eskimos’ leading scorer, Brady Clouthier opened the scoring with his 33rd goal of the season 5:37 into the opening frame.
Sine Chadi beat Eskimos goalie Logan Ferrington less than four minutes later to make it a 1-1 hockey game.
The Beavers, playing their third game in three days, held a territorial advantage in the opening frame and outshot their hosts 16-11.
It took the Beavers even less time to get back on even terms after Brenden Locke beat Blind River goalie Zach Mills for his 27th goal of the season late in the second period.
Dante Juris put an unassisted goal behind Ferrington 56 seconds later to tie the score at 2-2
Even though the Beavers were sporting a record of 0-35-0-1 heading into Sunday afternoon’s game, Dube was not surprised that they put up a tough battle.
“Absolutely not, especially with the new coach and a new philosophy,” he said.
“Players are always trying to prove to a new coach that they want to be there, so we were expecting this.
“We saw that they had three games in three night and we thought they were going to be tired, but it was just the opposite. They kept on coming and kept on coming.
“Our goalie made a couple of big saves to keep us in the game.”
The Beavers lost all three of the games on their weekend road trip, but there were points in each contest where that elusive first victory appeared to be near at hand.
“The most frustrating part of tonight’s game came after the score was 2-2,” said Beavers coach Angelo Gallo.
“We have been playing well all weekend but I think it has been out of our hands. Our players put in the effort and they played smart but things were just taken out of their hands this weekend, but we will forge ahead and we will get that first win this week.
“I think all of our players are accepting their roles and they all stood out. We had guys killing off five-on-threes and five-on-fours. They are all accepting their roles and they are all playing pretty well.”
What do the Beavers have to do to get a win the next time they visit the Jus Jordan Arena?
“I don’t think it is anything we have to do,” Gallo said.
“It is not a strategy problem. It is not an effort problem.”
ESKIMOS NOTES — Eskimos forward Kyle Levis left Sunday afternoon’s game with an upper-body injury. He was taken to the hospital and team officials were unsure of the severity of the injury following the game … The Eskimos were 1-8 on the power play, while the Beavers were 0-6 with the man advantage … Official attendance at Sunday afternoon’s game was 397 … The Eskimos will return to action on Saturday night when the host the Cochrane Crunch at the Jus Jordan Arena for Round 9 in the Battle of Highway 11.