MATTAWA - The Blackhawks handed the Abitibi Eskimos their fourth-straight defeat at the Mike Rodden Arena Saturday night.
Defenceman Alex Dajia scored two goals and added an assist as the home side earned just its second victory of the season, a 5-4 decision.
The Blackhawks had dropped a 13-0 decision to the Gold Miners in Kirkland Lake, while the Eskimos dropped a 4-1 decision to the Voodoos in Powassan.
“It was very disappointing,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“It was just a situation where for some reason if a mistake was made it was a goal and we were making unnecessary mistakes.
“We were playing high percentage, which is not right. We are in a bit of a slump and we tried to rectify it. We played really strong on Friday. I thought we played some pretty good hockey and then for some reason the hockey gods are putting a goal against on the board.
“It has been tough. Even yesterday, we competed really well and couldn’t score, we would turn over the puck and then it would be a two-on-one and a goal against.
“We couldn’t the puck out, a shot on net, and a goal against.
“It was just the way the breaks were going and it is unfortunate, because it is hard on the morale.”
The two teams had been tied 2-2 after two periods of play, but the Blackhawks struck for a pair of goals in the first 51 seconds of the third period to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Kyle Baril’s power-play goal 25 seconds into the period got the ball rolling and then Dajia beat newly acquired Eskimos goalie Tyler Lesschaeve for his second of the night 26 seconds later.
Gagne had seen enough and he opted to bring in Chet Tooker to finish up the game.
“There was a shot from the point and the puck went in the net for no reason,” he said.
“Then our defence had the puck and instead of just getting it out they threw it over to their defence and their defence shoots and goal.
“Things like that are incredible. Normally we don’t make those little mistakes. That put us behind the eight ball.”
Tyler Broderson beat Tooker to increase the Blackhawks’ lead to 5-2 before the Eskimos added a pair of goals to make the final 5-4.
“After that, we came out and we really competed,” Gagne said.
“We rolled three lines and we got involved. We were competing, competing and we made it a 5-4 hockey game, but we ran out of time.”
Brennan Roy’s second goal of the contest, a power-play marker, made it a 5-3 game and Cameron Etherington added an even strength goal with just 57 seconds remaining to make it a one goal game.
The Eskimos were unable to get the equalizer, however.
The teams exchanged first-period goals, with Jimmy Philbin scoring for the Blackhawks just 53 seconds into the game and Roy replying for the Eskimos.
“They scored a goal, two-on-two,” Gagne said.
“One of our defencemen didn’t take his man. He makes a pass and they scored.”
Kealey Cummings put the visitors up 2-1 in the second period, while Dajia’s first goal tied it up at 2-2 heading into the third period.
While the score on Saturday was closer than the previous three loss, the Eskimos trend of making too many mistakes continues to be alarming.
“The last four games, we have not taken our man, we have not been getting the puck out and that is the difference in hockey,” Gagne said.
“All of a sudden the players start squeezing their sticks a little bit and they feel they have to score and all hell breaks loose all of the time.”
Joe Sheppard made 35 saves while picking up the victory for the Blackhawks.
Lesschaeve stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced to take the loss, while Tooker turned aside eight of the nine shots he faced.
Prior to the two games on the road, the Eskimos acquired forward Patrick Picard (13, 0-5-5, 6) from the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners on Friday morning.
The 5-10, 160-pound 19-year-old Hearst native broke into the NOJHL with the Gold Miners during the 2013-14 season (55, 1-7-8, 10).
“He adds quite a bit to our team,” Gagne said.
“It is his second year of playing Junior ‘A’ hockey, so he adds a little bit of experience.
“We put him along side (Brady) Clouthier and (Ryan) Tront this weekend. He is a great addition. He works hard and we are definitely happy to get him.”
Picard, who has yet to practice with his new team, picked up an assist in Saturday night’s game.
The Eskimos also brought in Lesschaeve, who had spent a week with the Cochrane Crunch before they acquired Ben Auger from the Voodoos, with Braddock Baalerud going down with a knee injury.
“Thursday we were told that Braddock had to take a week off,” Gagne said.
“He has something wrong with his knee and he aggravated it, so we had to sign Tyler. Now we are going to see what the goalie situation is going forward.”
Fans can expect to see even more alterations to the lineup when the Eskimos host the Blackhawks at the Jus Jordan Arena on Saturday night, although Gagne was not prepared to go into detail Sunday afternoon.
The Eskimos were without defencemen Jamey Lauzon and Michael Rancourt on the weekend.
“Lauzon is going to be out another week, or so,” Gagne said.
Friday night, against the Voodoos newly acquired Powassan goalie Matt Young made 25 saves to lead them to the 4-1 win over the Eskimos.
The Voodoos acquired Young and defenceman James Vuillemot from the Cochrane Crunch on Tuesday in exchange for goalie Ben Auger.
Steve Harland notched a pair of goals to pace the offence for the Voodoos who led the game 2-0 after the first period and 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.
Nicholas Proulx and Tyler Gervais-Rolfe also scored for the home side.
Brady Clouthier had the lone goal for the Eskimos.
Eskimos goalie Chet Tooker made 33 saves while being tagged with the loss for the Eskimos.
The Eskimos went 0-2 on the power play, while the Voodoos were 0-1 with the man advantage, as there were only three minor penalties called during the game.