KIRKLAND LAKE - The last two times the Abitibi Eskimos had played the Gold Miners the game was decided in double overtime.
Sunday night there was no overtime, just the Gold Miners doubling the Eskimos 6-3 at the Joe Mavrinac Community Centre.
Still, Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne was a lot happier with his team’s compete level than he had been Friday night in Timmins against the Sudbury Nickel Barons.
“We had a five-on-three against us, penalties, there was just no momentum,” he said.
“Were they questionable calls? Well, there was a tripping call, an hooking call and a good hard check (charging).
“All of sudden we were right behind the eight ball and there is not much you can do about that, but the way we played, we got back to our compete level — which was nonexistant on Friday.
“I was really happy with the way we played. It could have gone either way, because we had our chances. We had great opportunities and we stayed right in there.”
Mathieu Lecompte got the ball rolling for the home side when he beat Eskimos goalie Sylvain Miron just 1:11 into the opening frame.
Power-play goals by Dan Morin — with the Gold Miners enjoying a two-man advantage — and Austin Rust sent the two teams to the first intermission with Kirkland Lake enjoying a 3-0 lead.
Erik Robichaud scored his second goal since rejoining the Eskimos to get Abitibi on the board 4:48 into the second period, but Kyle Bishop restored Kirkland Lake’s three-goal lead just over a minute later.
It took Ryan Wildman just 11 seconds to get that one back for the Eskimos, but that would be as close as they could come to getting back to even terms before the end of the second period.
“We had a couple of good opportunities to score,” Gagne said.
“We went down on a two-on-one and didn’t get a shot on net, little stuff like that that could have just gotten us over that little hump.”
Steven Babin scored for the Gold Miners 6:38 into the final period to one again put the home side in front by three goals, 5-2.
Robichaud’s second goal of the game 46 seconds later pulled the Eskimos to within 5-3.
“There is no secret to his goals,” Gagne said.
“He has scored three goals with us in the last two games and it was just from driving to the net. He was skating and he got two good passes and just put it where it belongs, in the back of the net.
“And it was just from driving to the net, it wasn’t from a solo effort, or going through the whole hockey team … anything like that … just driving to the net.
“We talk about it all the time, drive to the net, drive to the net and from playing Major Junior ‘A’ that is instinct from him. He drives to the net and he is compensated for it with a couple of goals.”
At 5-9 and 170 lbs., Robichaud is not one of the biggest players on the team but that has not stopped him from paying the price to put the puck in the net.
“Hopefully they (Robichaud’s teammates) will read this article, because if you want to get some shots on net, if you want to get some power plays, if you want to get garbage goals, if you want to get involved and compete, you have to drive to the net,” Gagne said.
“And that is what Erik does really well, he drives to the net.
“It is going to be emphasized again this week. We have been doing it, but it is just this weekend it was on and off, going to the net, not skating, not going in a straight line to the net. We have to do those little things. That’s how you are successful.”
Evertt Thompson put the final nail in the Eskimos’ coffin, however, when he scored for Kirkland Lake at the 11:40 mark of the period.
“You know what, 6-3 is no indication of the game either,” Gagne said.
“We made it a lot closer than that, but unfortunately they got six, obviously.
“It is just unfortunate when you have a first period where you are shorthanded like that. There were like three, or four penalties in a row for us, and unfortunately it cost us three power-play goals.”
Kenny Fitzgerald stopped 18 of the 21 shots the Eskimos fire in his direction to pick up the victory for the Gold Miners.
Miron, who took the loss for the Eskimos, stopped 34 of the 40 shots he faced.
The Gold Miners went three-for-five on the power play, while the Eskimos were zero-for-four.
Defenceman Jamey Lauzon, who was involved in the first fight of his career Friday night against the Sudbury Nickel Barons did not dress for Sunday’s game.
“He broke his hand in training camp, so he had quite a bit of swelling in his hand (following the fight), Gagne said.
“So we decided to give him at least four days off. He is going to go back on the ice Wednesday. We just want to get the swelling down, because you don’t want to aggravate it and have it get worse.”
ESKIMOS NOTES: The three stars of the game were: 1. Andrew Bertrand (Gold Miners); 2. Rust (Gold Miners); and 3. Robichaud (Eskimos) … Ben Miller, who is injured, also did not dress, but defenceman Bryce Robert returned to the lineup … The Eskimos will celebrate the Thanksgiving long weekend with a three-game road trip, Friday night in Espanola, Saturday night in Blind River and Sunday afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie … Their next home game will be Saturday, Oct. 19, when the North Bay Trappers pay their first visit of the 2013-14 season to the Jus Jordan Arena.