The Abitibi Eskimos may be missing even more players from their line-up when they travel to Englehart for a meeting with the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils on Wednesday.
Forwards Jordan Delaurier, Ryan Mercier and Preston Lacasse served the first games of their two-game suspensions Saturday night during a 2-0 loss to the Blind River Beavers.
Forward Delmer Moses served his one-game suspension, as well, on Saturday night, but Eskimos assistant coach Marc Cashmore does not expect to see Moses back in the line-up Wednesday, as he picked up his third fighting major of the season in the Dec. 7 overtime loss in Sudbury — which brings with it an additional two-game suspension.
And Cashmore will be behind the Eskimos bench for Wednesday’s game, as coach and general manager Paul Gagne serves the second game of his two-game suspension.
Timminsnative Mathieu Lefebvre, who did play against the Beavers on Saturday night, will likely be missing from the line-up, however.
Lefebvre received a four-game suspension from the NOJHL after he was assessed a match penalty for attempting to injure another player.
He was able to play Saturday because his suspension was under review by both the NOJHL and the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.
“The commissioner (Robert Mazzuca) was over at the MCTV offices on Saturday, going through the video,” Cashmore said.
“And then he was meeting with his discipline committee today (Monday) and hopefully they will have a decision by tonight, or tomorrow’s practice.
“Our roster might be even shorter, if Lefebvre is suspended.”
In addition to the loss of the suspended players, the Eskimos have released forward Zach Innes (23 games, two goals and two assists) and forward Corey Tozzi (24 games, five goals and three assists) has gone home toSt. Laurent, Que., to await a trade.
As of Monday, the Eskimos had not negotiated a trade involving Tozzi’s rights.
To bolster the line-up Saturday night, the Eskimos used Hearst Elans forwards Miles Nolan, Brendan Bujold and Ryan Aubertin, as well as New Liskeard Cub Trevor MacDonald.
“Paul was supposed to get in contact with their coaches, we would sure want them back for Wednesday,” Cashmore said.
“They gave us more than what I expected. These kids can really skate.
“A few of them had good chances, but they were nervous and they missed their shots or they passed it away too soon.
“If they were with us from the start of the year, they would fit right in.
All four played regular shifts in the first period, but their ice time was cut back as the game progressed.
“I wish I could have played them a little bit more, but we played most of the game short handed,” Cashmore said.
“They really didn’t know how we kill our penalties, or our program, so I couldn’t throw them out there in a tight game like that.”
The Eskimos are expecting forward Charles Oliver, who has been playing junior hockey in the Maritimes, to be at practice on Tuesday.
If he impresses the coaching staff, he could be signed and in the line-up on Wednesday.
With most of the Eskimos offence either playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, or sitting in the press box, the game plan againstKirklandLakeon Wednesday will be simple.
“We are limited in our scoring ability, so we do have to play a little bit more passive and stay back defensively a little bit,” Cashmore said.
“That’s what I had been hoping we would do on the weekend. We had no suspensions on the D and I was hoping they would be able to carry us through the game without getting too many shots on net … controlling the play a little bit more … but we had some inconsistency from our older players and it really cost us.”
Keeping the Blue Devils offensive opportunities to a minimum is important even with a full roster, because of the strong play of goaltender Ken Appleby.
“They always get up for games against us,” Cashmore said.
“At the start of the year we were clobbering them almost every game, so now that they are on track a little bit and they have had two wins against us, there is kind of a rivalry.
“I am sure they will be up a little bit more against us.”