ENGLEHART — Abitibi Eskimos put themselves “behind the eight ball” Wednesday night and the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils made them pay.
With numerous regulars still out of the lineup because of suspensions and many of the players dressed fighting the flu, the Eskimos dropped a 4-1 decision to their Eastern Division rivals.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball again and played a good third … outshot them and out played them … but we couldn’t capitalize,” said Eskimos assistant coach Marc Cashmore, who was running the bench for the second straight game as coach and general manager Paul Gagne served the second game of the two-game suspension he picked up in the Dec. 7 overtime loss to the Cubs in Sudbury.
The Eskimos were once again forced to use three affiliate players.
Hearst Elans Ryan Aubertin and Miles Nolan and New Liskeard Cub Trevor MacDonald each played their second games with the Eskimos.
“I put the three rookies together in the third period and they did very good,” Cashmore said.
“They created a little bit of offence and had some good scoring opportunities.”
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal by Travis Jones, his 14th of the season.
“We hit three solid posts, or it could have been a different ball game,” Cashmore said.
“A half an inch lower or a half an inch higher, or to the side and it could have been 1-1 after one, it could have been 3-3 after two, but that’s the way the ball bounces.”
The Eskimos were able to get back on even terms early in the second period, as Jacob Kord scored his ninth goal of the season.
Delmer Moses and Richard Therrien picked up assists on the play.
Kirkland Lake got a pair of goals before the period ended, however, to take a 3-1 lead.
Jordan Turbide scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his 11th of the season.
Jonathan Dionne had the other Blue Devils goal in the period, his first of two on the night.
“We had a five on three in the second period and we didn’t even get a shot on net,” Cashmore said.
“Then they had a power play right after and they scored to make it 3-1.
“That was a real downer and a momentum breaker.”
Dionne’s fourth goal of the season, into an empty net, closed out the scoring.
Bryden Daoust went the distance in goal for Kirkland Lake to record the victory, while J.P. Fecteau took the loss for the Eskimos.
Each team took three minor penalties in the game.
“It was a nice clean game, a fast game, a hard checking game,” Cashmore said.
“They were a little hungrier than us, I guess.
“It’s 10 p.m. and we are picking up our subs and heading home. It’s going to be a long trip home.”
The Eskimos should have Preston Lacasse, Jordan Delaurier and Ryan Mercier back in the lineup for their three-game road trip this weekend.
They each served the second games of their two-game suspensions assessed in the Dec. 7 overtime loss against the Cubs in Sudbury.
The team also has a pair of newcomers in camp, but it isn’t known if they will be signed yet.
The Eskimos have to wait for their transfers to be approved before making any decision.
The Eskimos are scheduled to play the Soo Thunderbirds on Friday, the Blind River Beavers on Saturday and the Soo Eagles on Sunday.
The next home game at the Jus Jordan Arena will be on Wednesday against the North Bay Trappers.