IROQUOIS FALLS — Abitibi Eskimos greeted the Gold Miners the same way they used to welcome the Blue Devils on Saturday night at the Jus Jordan Arena — by scoring a 6-1 victory over the Kirkland Lakers.
And once again it was the big line doing much of the damage.
Centre Corey Hamel scored twice and added an assist, while the Eskimos’ leading scorer, Marc-Alain Begin, had a four-point night — one goal, three assists. The third member of the line, captain Richard Therrien, was held to just one assist, but he did much of the work that resulted in his linemates’ goals.
Newcomers Jake Ryan and Chris Green both had goals, as did winger Guillaume Rheault, who returned to the lineup.
“Usually, I just try to help out in the defensive zone, but it’s nice to help out the offence once in a while,” said Green, whose first-period goal proved to be the game winner.
“The puck just kind of came right to me on the point and I walked in into the middle and shot and the rebound came right back out to me.”
The Eskimos built up a 2-0 lead in the first period and stretched it to 5-0 in the middle frame.
Travis Jones’ goal early in the third period spoiled Martin Bilodeau’s bid for a shutout, but failed to provide any sizeable lift in momentum for the Gold Miners.
“We have been preparing since Tuesday and we were really pumped up for this game,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“This is the first time we have played against them … a new organization, sweaters and all that, so we were just concentrating on our assignments, our commitment, our discipline, our momentum.
“That’s all we wanted to do and, you know what, we were focused and it showed from the first shift.
“We got leadership from the line of Delaurier, Ryan and Moses.”
In the words of the coach, the Eskimos “played Eskimos hockey” on Saturday.
“We played a simple game tonight,” Gagne said.
“We were putting pressure on them. Putting the puck forward. Putting the puck to the net. Driving to the net. And we just contained, contained, contained.
“In the offensive zone, we did the same thing. Our forwards pinched in, our defence pinched in and kept the play going.
“And that was the best defence. We were in the offensive zone most of the night.”
As a result, the Eskimos outshot the Gold Miners 53-29 and dominated the game at both ends of the rink.
That was especially true in the first period, when the Eskimos fired 24 shots at the Gold Miners normally-steady goaltender Ken Appleby.
I would be hard to envision the Eskimos playing a more perfect game than the 60-minute gem they treated their fans too Saturday night.
“We were dominant and it was a good feeling, because we rolled four lines and all four lines had roles,” Gagne said.
“They penalty killed, the played on the power play, regular shift. It’s just a confidence builder and you see it one them, too.
“They wanted that opportunity.
“We want to continue on playing this well and our players are really committed.”
Getting a full week of practice in preparation for a game is a luxury the Eskimos have not enjoy too often of late.
“The practices, we had great intensity and we had a full squad,” Gagne said.
“We had 21 players on the ice. There was a lot of energy. There was a lot of recuperation time, so the practices were at a higher level.”