IROQUOIS FALLS – It was as good of a time as any for the North Bay Trappers to thaw their scoring touch at The Igloo.
The Trappers avoided a third-straight shutout at the Jus Jordan Arena and defeated the Abitibi Eskimos 4-3 on Tuesday night to keep their season alive.
The Eskis had blanked the Trappers 5-0 in both Games 1 and 3, but the visitors made sure they didn’t suffer the same fate again.
“We thought that we’ve had our chances in this rink in the last two games,” Trappers head coach Dan West said. “We felt if we kept pushing and kept pushing we’d be rewarded for it.”
Jamie Olivier, Jonathan Dionne, Jonathan Aubertin and Alexander Cooper all scored for North Bay, which now trails the best-of-seven NOJHL Eastern Division semifinal series 3-2.
Josh Clancy, Preston Lacasse and Richard Therrien tallied for Abitibi.
After 20 minutes of play, it appeared as though the Trappers might be shut out again. They trailed 2-0, but broke through midway into the second period when Aubertin had a partial breakaway and drew Abitibi goalie J.P. Fecteau and a defender away from the net. He then slid a pass to Olivier, who faced an open cage for an easy goal.
Dionne tied it up four and a half minutes later after he located a rebound and buried it into the net.
“That gave us all kinds of life,” West said. “After we tied it up, we said that 20 minutes of hockey would bring us back home. We knew we had more in us and we could see they were really tired and banged up. We just wanted to try to extend it and really push ourselves for the last 20.”
That’s exactly what North Bay did as it took the lead at 3:17 in the final frame. In transition, Aubertin had room to load up on a shot and roofed the puck behind Fecteau.
Midway through the period, Aubertin freed himself for three breakaways, but Fecteau was there each time to keep it a one-goal game.
”He’s been stellar all season and even better in the playoffs,” Abitibi head coach Paul Gagne said. “There’s no reason for those breakaways with our defencemen just watching the plays.
“(Fecteau) kept us in the game.”
With four minutes remaining, however, the Eskimos netminder couldn’t stop Cooper. On the doorstep of the goal-crease, Cooper spun toward his forehand side and fired high as Fecteau sprawled.
After Clancy’s power-play goal with three minutes remaining, the Eskis pressed for the equalizer. Fecteau was pulled for an extra attacker and Abitibi appeared to have tied the game, but Joel Roy’s marker was waved off as the officials said the whistle had blown the play dead. The puck was loose, but with all the bodies in front of the net, they lost sight of the rubber.
“We still persevered,” Gagne said. “We tried everything. We came close to tying it, so it was good hockey.”
Following Game 4′s controversial finish in which the Eskis crashed the net for the overtime winner that only the goal judge saw go past the goal-line, West said his team faced a better fortune on Tuesday.
“I did think there was some karma for them scoring after the whistle went,” he said. “That’s how hockey works sometimes. We felt the call was right last night, but we felt it was kicked in.”
Though Gagne wasn’t overly upset with the potential tying goal being waved off, he was disappointed with a couple of no-icing calls. One resulted in Cameron Carns sustaining a leg injury following a hit from Brennan Wright behind the net, the other cost the Eskis a chance to tie the game with a few seconds remaining on the clock.
“I was pissed off at a couple of icings. There’s no reason for it,” Gagne said.
“That big fight, it was the result of a clear icing and all of a sudden one of our players gets hurt behind the net. The referee didn’t see the hit on the back of his leg. Now, he has torn ligaments in the back of his right leg.
“The play was from an icing and it escalated. It’s frustrating.”
Carns is expected to miss Game 6, which will be played on Wednesday night in North Bay. Jeremiah Coon-Come, who missed Game 5 with a knee injury, is questionable.
Despite suffering a big loss, Gagne said his team must not panic in trying to eliminate the Trappers.
“They were down 3-1, and now we’re going back to North Bay up 3-2,” he said. “We have to go there tomorrow and play our game. Be patient, be patient and go from there.”
Notes: Fecteau, who earned shutouts in Games 1 and 3, made 32 saves, while Michael Codina-Lucia stopped 31 shots for North Bay … Wright and Eric Carrier received game misconducts for fighting … Eskimos Jordan Delaurier and Trapper Adam Marceau also dropped the gloves, both receiving inciting misconducts … a total of 808 spectators took in the game.