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Trappers leave empty handed

Two forces collided at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex on Friday when the Eskis took on the Trappers in what felt like a playoff game.   With the season winding down for the Abitibi Eskimos and the North Bay Trappers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, both clubs find themselves staring at the same prize – home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.   Only one team can occupy that spot and the Eskis are making a case for being there with a 6-3 final.   The Trappers held a 2-1 lead at the close of the first period, but quickly found themselves tied with the home team at 2-2 early in the second, when a determined Eskis squad took to the ice with renewed vigour in front of more than 900 spectators.   “The first period wasn’t the prettiest period,” said Paul Gagne, head coach and general manager of the Eskimos. “We haven’t played like that in a long time. I think maybe we were a little nervous and out of sync maybe.”   The second period was feisty one with the Trappers taking more than 20 minutes in penalties.   Eskis netminder J.P. Fecteau was repeatedly harassed in his net as Trappers players tried to throw him off his game by crashing the net. On two occasions, the Eskis trainer had to attend to Fecteau.   “The first one was a high stick in my face and the second time, their player hit me and my head hit the post,” said Fecteau. “It’s part of the game. The playoffs are coming and this was like a playoff game, so you have to stay focused and do your job. My job is to stop the puck.”   The second period saw the Eskis take advantage of a slew of undisciplined penalties by the visiting club ultimately taking a 5-2 lead after 40 minutes.   “The pressure they were putting on J.P. backfired on them because we scored goals on the penalties they took,” said Gagne. “When you take stupid penalties it comes back to haunt you.”   All four of the Eskis second period goals came on the powerplay.   “We took care of the powerplay,” said Gagne. “We got our goals and that changed the game around.”   The Eskis got into some penalty trouble in the final frame, but Fecteau kept the Eskis lead intact.   “In the third we got some penalties, but we came out with a win,” said Fecteau. “It’s a big win for us.”   Gagne said, “J.P. was standing outside of his crease and cutting down the angles for a lot of the shots tonight. If there was a rebound, there were three white jerseys there. He held his own.   Corey Hamel added a shorthanded marker early in the period to extend the Eskis lead to 6-2.   “It’s a game of emotions,” said Gagne. “The bottom line is we wanted to win this game tonight and we did. We played good in two and a half periods.   The Eskis welcome the Soo Thunderbirds tonight at the Jus Jordan Arena. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.