IROQUOIS FALLS - Ryan Swain and Luc Soares each scored a pair of goals to lead the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners to a 6-1 win over the Abitibi Eskimos at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
The victory avenged a 6-5 setback the Gold Miners suffered at the hands of the Eskimos in Kirkland Lake 24 hours earlier.
“Our guys didn’t have that motivation and that will to give the extra effort,” said Eskimos assistant coach and general manager Dan Dube.
“I thought we had a better third period, but it is hard, it is the start of the season and there are new faces.
“Guys are trying to make this hockey team and we just want them to do what they do best.
“It is just the second exhibition game of the year, we can’t ask for the world here, but, like I said, I thought we played a better third period.”
Many of the younger Eskimos looked confused at times during Saturday night’s contest, perhaps unclear of what their assignment was on a particular shift.
“We showed them a couple of things yesterday at the game, and we only had a week’s practice, so it is new to everybody,” Dube said.
“They are not used to it and I can just imagine for the veterans who are coming back, that they have to let the guys know on the bench and in the dressing room what we are asking from them.
“It is tough for them, too, if they are playing with somebody who wasn’t here last year, but they will come around.”
Dube admitted that the Gold Miners improved play in their own end made things a little tougher for the Eskimos Saturday night, as well.
“Absolutely, and they had good goaltending , as well,” he said.
“Their two goaltenders played pretty good behind them and they kept it pretty simple. They got it out of their zone and got the puck to their forwards and they got their speed going in the offensive zone.
“That’s our style of play, too, and we just didn’t bring it tonight.”
Timmins native Nick Hautanen and 16-year-old Hearst native Joel Fortin also scored for the visitors.
Ryan Attwood had the lone goal for the Eskimos — his third in two exhibition games.
Attwood’s continued strong play has caught the attention of the coaching staff.
“Him and (Brenden) Locke seem to be clicking right now,” Dube said.
“They have a lot of speed and they create a lot of offence. They are pretty dangerous when they get to that blue-line and those defencemen sometimes don’t see them coming, with that speed. It is nice to see them developing some early chemistry.”
Attwood is pleased with the early success that he has found playing with Locke and Brady Clouthier.
“I was hoping to get a few goals and produce for the team,” he said.
“I want that to be part of my role, to be a goal scorer on the Eskimos.
“Things are going well and I like playing with them (Locke and Clouthier). They are amazing players. They have really good vision on the ice. They can find each other and I am finding them on the ice. It is fun playing with them.”
Locke actually had the best chance to get the Eskimos on the scoresheet prior to Attwood’s goal.
He was interfered with as he broke in alone on Kirkland Lake goalie Kenny Fitzgerald and was awarded a penalty shot.
Locke tried to deke the Gold Miners puck stopper, but Fitzgerald followed him across the crease and made a pad save.
While the Gold Miners played better Saturday night than they did Friday in Kirkland Lake, Attwood feels the loss had more to do with what the Eskimos were not doing right than anything the visitors were doing well.
“We just lost our intensity,” he said.
“We came out pretty strong last game in the first period, but in this first period we just lost our intensity, I think that is what went wrong.”
Timmins native Devon Debastos, who suffered the loss in Kirkland Lake, got the victory Saturday night, shutting out the Eskimos and making seven saves in the first half of the game before being relieved by Fitzgerald, who blocked 17 of the 18 shots the Eskimos fired his way.
“I think I left a lot of the jitters in last night’s game,” Debastos said.
“We definitely tightened up our D zone coverage today. This morning we had a nice skate and we worked on a lot of the things we made mistakes on in last night’s game.
“But basically the difference tonight was just of D zone coverage and the little things that we worked on that helped us in tonight’s game.”
Debastos, a rookie who played for the Timmins Majors, of the Great North Midget League, during the 2013-14 campaign, is looking forward to working with Fitzgerald, a veteran who helped lead the Gold Miners to the NOJHL championship last season.
“Kenny is a really good goalie and I am already starting to learn things from him,” Debastos said.
“He is a really good guy and I can look up to him, I can ask him questions. He has a different style compared to me, but I am trying to combine his style and mine, because there are a lot of things I see that he does, that maybe I can improve on.”
Chet Tooker got the start in net for the Eskimos and surrendered three goals on 18 shots to take the loss. Alex Chandler, who came on in relief, did not fare any better, also surrendering three goals on 15 shots.
Gold Miners coach and general manager Marc Lafleur was happy with the victory, but was quick to point out that it is just one game and that his team still has a lot of work in front of it.
“Yesterday, a lot of their goals came out of the corners in our zone,” he said.
“So we wanted to tighten it up tonight. Let’s not kid ourselves, it is just one game. I was upstairs tonight tagging some clips and there is going to be a lot of teaching in the next few days, a lot of it.”
“At the end of the day we capitalized on the chances that they gave us. Yes, we played better, but maybe they weren’t as sharp. At the end of the day you have to look at the other team, not just yourself.
“I thought they played better last night than tonight and I am sure he (Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne) is going to make adjustments.”
A number of players impressed the Kirkland Lake coach Saturday night.
“Ryan Swain just got here and he got a couple of goals, not bad for somebody who hasn’t practiced with us and doesn’t know our systems,” Lafleur said.
“He stood out and Luc Soares, who we lost half way through the game yesterday because of a broken skate, and guys like (Jeremy) Picard-Fiset, again tonight, and (Dylan) Rosen stood out. I was happy with my defence tonight.”
Fortin, who has scored in both exhibition games so far, also had a strong game.
“I do not select 16 year olds unless I think they can make the jump to junior hockey and he can,” Lafleur said.
“You only have to tell him something once and he will do it. He understands the game.”
ESKIMOS NOTES — The Eskimos and the Gold Miners will play two more exhibition games against each other, Wednesday night at the Jus Jordan Arena and Thursday night at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake. Game time for both contests is 7:30 p.m.