NORTH BAY - The Abitibi Eskimos dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the North Bay Trappers Monday night.
Despite the loss, the Eskimos were able to lengthen their lead over the Espanola Rivermen for third place in the NOJHL standings to two points.
The Rivermen now hold two games in hand on the Eskimos, however.
“We dominated,” said Eskimos coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“It was a game where we lost a point and they stole two points. We dominated the whole game, except we had three little errors.
“On the last goal, we had a pinch at the blue line and the puck went through and the man went through and they went down on a two-on-one and it shouldn’t have happened.
“Also, we took a too many men penalty to give them a power play. You don’t go on the ice until the player is off and the puck was right there and there were too many men.
“Even on the penalty kill we had an assignment that was missed in front of the net and the guy scored.
“The first goal (against), we had the puck and it ended up in the slot on a pass from one of our defencemen and the next thing you know they went in and scored.
“So there was no reason for it, no reason, and I believe it was two points we should have had.
“We were comfortable the whole game, except those three errors.
“Everybody was playing excellent hockey.”
The Eskimos jumped out to a 1-0 lead in Monday night’s game when rookie centre Brenden Locke beat Trappers goalie Evan Cormier for his 19th goal of the season.
And Brady Clouthier’s team-leading 30th goal of the season extended the visitors lead to 2-0 midway through the second period.
The Trappers finally got on the board when Kyle Baril scored the first of his two goals on the night, beating Eskimos goalie Sylvain Miron 6:54 into the third period.
Howard Yawit’s power-play goal six minutes later got the Trappers back on even terms and forced overtime.
It took just 1:37 of the first overtime period for Baril to score his second goal of the game and send the home fans home happy.
Ryan Demyen fed a pass to Baril, who backhanded the game-winner past Miron.
“I didn’t think I was having a very good game,” Baril said after the win, saying he decided he had to start crashing the net to make something happen.
“It’s awesome,” he said of four points for the team in two days.
“We really needed that. We had a couple of close ones with Sudbury that we should have had. But these are a couple of really tough teams.”
The Eskimos have been focusing on trying to generate more offensive scoring chances and getting more shots on goal in recent games and they came close to getting 50 shots on the North Bay goal Monday night.
“We had plenty of shots, but we could have had more, that’s the frustrating thing, too,” Gagne said.
“A lot of the time, on our better opportunities, we didn’t shoot.
“It is important to shoot and generate some offence. We have got to realize that to score goals, they don’t all have to be pretty.
“It’s the garbage goals, the deflection goals, it’s the rebound goals, those are rewarding, also. We need to have them.”
Cormier turned aside 44 Eskimos shots to earn the victory, while Miron made 28 saves in suffering the loss.
“It’s a great honour to be selected one of the three stars, especially for being so young,” said Cormier, who is just 16 years old.
“I’ll use it as a motivator and keep trying to do my best.”
For the most part, Gagne was pleased with the way the Eskimos played.
“It’s just the little things that keep biting us in the you know what.”
North Bay coach Zane Neily was not surprised to see his team battle back to earn two points Monday night.
“This is what we’ve done all year,” he said.
“Kyle (Baril) got off to a slow start, but he’s the type of player that, when he gets his first (goal), he’s on fire after that..”
The Eskimos went 0-3 on the power play, while the Trappers were 1-4 with the man advantage.
Next up for the Eskimos will be a meeting with the Nickel Barons in Sudbury on Wednesday night.
The two teams will then meet again at the McIntyre Arena in Timmins on Friday night.
— With files from P.J. Wilson of QMI Agency