TIMMINS – The Soo Thunderbirds showed up more than a half hour late for Friday night’s NOJHL game against the Abitibi Eskimos, but they got on the scoresheet early and often.
It took A.J. Kapcheck just 30 seconds to find the back of the net behind Eskimos goalie Jackson Winkler to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage, en route to a 7-1 victory at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex.
“You know what, the first five goals were five gifts,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“There was no reason. I was happy with my forwards, the way they worked, within the program, but our defence was non-existant tonight.
“They were not there. They couldn’t make a pass. They couldn’t take their man.
“It was mistake after mistake.
“I was disappointed and so were our forwards. They were disappointed with our defence.
“There were three teams out there. There was the Soo, there was our forwards and our defence.
“We have got to play better than that.
“It’s funny. I was really happy with the way we played and competed the last two games.
“But we never competed in the defensive zone tonight. Our defence never competed.
“We were not getting into the play and I am not happy at all.”
Brandon Warmington increased the Soo lead to 2-0 seven minutes later.
Ryan Tront gave the 700-plus home fans something to cheer about when he netted his first goal of the season midway through the first period.
“It’s been quite a struggle the two months I have been here,” Tront said.
“I have been all around the net, but I just could find the back of it, so it’s a relief to get that behind me.”
Even though he hadn’t scored before Friday night’s game, Tront has been productive — picking up 11 assists in 15 games with the Eskimos.
“I have had some great linemates who have been able to find the back of the net and I think this new line we have here now, with Peter (Poulin-Roy) and (Zach) Innis is going to be good.”
That goal appeared to give the Eskimos some momentum, but Dallas McLaughlin beat Winkler with just under three minutes to play to send the Thunderbirds to the dressing room with a 3-1 lead.
“It hurts,” Gagne said.
“It hurts. You go into the dressing room down 2-1 and anything can happen.
“They were gifts and that’s the worst thing about it. They have to have some accountability.”
Second period goals by Yan Kalashnikov and Warmington increased the Soo lead to 5-1.
Things didn’t get much better for the Eskimos in the third period, following a goaltender change that saw Jeremy Faux take over for Winkler.
Anthony Miller and Kapcheck beat Faux in the game’s closing minutes to make the final 7-1.
The Eskimos host the Sudbury Nickel Barons at the Jus Jordan Arena Saturday night.
Game time is 7:30 p.m.