IROQUOIS FALLS – Eskimos forward Ryan Tront’s face may have prevented the tying goal late in the contest on Saturday night.
The gutsy Thunder Bay native dropped to the ice to block a slap shot from the blue line that ricocheted off his chin and out of the Eskimos zone, leading to a 3-2 Abitibi win at the Jus Jordan Arena.
“Those boys are family and you do anything for your family,” said Tront.
Eskimos captain Richard Therrien said, “It was unreal and it shows that he’s a guy who would do anything for his team. I feel bad for him, but he did it for the team. It probably save a goal or a rebound. It stopped their momentum.”
On top of the courageous move, which prompted praise from teammates and friends on Twitter, Tront recorded assists on two of the three goals scored by Therrien.
“If you get rid of Therrien, the Eskimos would have a tough time,” said Bobcats head coach and general manager Ryan Leonard. “Three goals again tonight, the guy is a machine. He’s a talented player and he’s hard to contain. A guy like him will win you hockey games and that’s what happened tonight.”
The coaching staffs of both clubs must have preached the importance of taking plenty of shots, as 97 shots were thrown at the goalies.
Elliot Lake Bobcats goalie Cory Simic turned aside 52 of 55 shots, while Eskimos netminder Jeremy Laux, who was making only his second start in net, stopped 40 of 42 shots through 60 minutes.
“That was our game plan,” said Eskimos assistant coach Dan Dube. “The defence, most of the time, got the puck to the net and it created a lot of chances. Laux was great. He made the big saves when he had to. He made a couple of saves there at the end of the game and hopefully that helps his confidence.”
Both clubs traded goals in the first period with Nicholas Tassone scoring shorthanded for the Bobcats 4:51 into the first Therrien responding less than 10 minutes later.
The Bobcats were coming off a 8-0 loss at the hands of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners on Friday, following a 10-hour drive through terrible weather conditions.
Through the opening 20 minutes, the Eskimos outshot the Bobcats 26-9.
Tassone picked up his second goal of the game at 4:52 of the second period, but Therrien and the Eskimos responded eight seconds later, with Tront and Bryce Robert registering helpers on the play.
Therrien teamed up with Tront and defenceman Kevin Walker at 15:40 of the second to complete the hattrick and register his 29th goal of the campaign heading into the Christmas break.
“Tonight we battled hard and played hard,” said Leonard. “We really took it to them, we had a chance to win in the third. It was a big improvement for us over last time we played them.”
Therrien’s 29 goals has him atop the leader board and third in points with 56 in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“Today was a big game for me,” said Therrien. “The last game of this year and I wanted to go home on a positive note.”
Eskimos notes: Forward Ryan Tront received 10 stitches to the chin following the game. Peter Poulin-Roy served the second game of his four-game suspension. He is eligible to return Jan. 11. In the last five games, Therrien has recorded five goals and 14 points. In two starts this season, Laux has a record of 1-1 with a 3.02 GAA and .903 save percentage.