IROQUOIS FALLS – The Abitibi Eskimos may have scored the second-fewest goals in the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League, but captain Richard Therrien leads the league with 16 goals.
Snipers Darcy Casola (15 goals) and Adam Ritchie (14 goals), of the Soo Thunderbirds, are next, followed by Sudbury Nickel Baron Darcy Haines (14 goals) and Kirkland Lake Gold Miner Connor McNally (11 goals).
“He’s a strong power forward,” Eskimos coach and GM Paul Gagne said following a recent game.
“He goes into the areas that he has to … he’s a man today … he’s 20 years old and he goes into the area in front of the net and scores a lot of goals that way.
“He’s strong, he sees the puck really well and, you know what, he’s a good captain, he’s a great captain for us.”
Therrien also leads the NOJHL with seven power-play goals.
Casola is second, with six, followed by a pair of Kirkland Lake Gold Miners — Steven Babin, with five, and Jonathan Dionne, with four — and Brandon Janke, of the North Bay Trappers, also with four.
Therrien, with 26 points, sits fifth in the NOJHL’s scoring race, trailing only Ritchie (33 points), Haines (31 points), Casola (30 points) and Sudbury Nickel Baron Sebastien Leroux (27 points).
There are no Eskimos among the NOJHL’s assists leaders, however.
Ritchie’s 19 helpers are tops, followed by Leroux, with 18 assists, Haines, with 17 assists, and Janke and Soo Thunderbird Derek Battagin, who each have 15 assists.
Given that the Eskimos have surrendered the third-most goals in the NOJHL, 81, it is no surprise that neither Etienne Roy, or the recently departed Marc Audet are among the league’s top netminders.
Soo Thunderbird Joel Horodziejczyk leads in goals against average, with a 2.07 mark.
He is followed by North Bay Trapper Greg Dodds, 2.38, Kirkland Lake Gold Miner Chris Komma, 2.54, Soo Thunderbird Steven Dombrowski, 3.04, and Sudbury Nickel Baron Micheal Muzyka, 3.57.
“You know what, he’s a game changer,” Trappers assistant coach Stacy Jackson said following a recent visit by North Bay to the Jus Jordan Arena.
“We are very fortunate to have him.
“Night after night, he continues to play very consistent.
“He is smart with the puck and, you know what, he gets us out of a lot of jams.
“He plays well and he is the backbone of the team right now.”
Dodds’ .921 saves percentage leads the NOJHL, followed by Horodziejczyk, .915, Komma, .909, Dombrowski, .895, and Blind River Beaver Brandon Currie, .893.
Dodds also leads the NOJHL in wins with 11, followed by Komma, 10, Horodziejczyk, eight, and Dombrowski and Sudbury Nickel Baron Alexander Laino, who each have five.
Dombrowski, Komma, Dodds and Horodziejczyk have each posted one shutout, so far this season.
Eskimos fans will get their first opportunity to see the NOJHL’s newest team when the Elliot Lake Bobcats visit the Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday night.
The Bobcats have just three wins on the season, but one of those victories — a 6-2 decision — came against the Eskimos in Elliot Lake on Oct. 5, during the first game of a three-game road trip.
The Bobcats will stop in Kirkland Lake to play the Gold Miners on Friday night in a tuneup for their visit to Iroquois Falls.
The Eskimos will play their second game of the weekend on Sunday when they travel to North Bay for a 5 p.m. game against the Trappers.