The North Bay Jr. “A” Trappers (32-7-3-4) are only a couple points away from clinching first place after a 6-3 win over the Abitibi Eskimos (13-29-0-3) on Sunday night
Stephen Langford scored twice, while Corbin Bean, Samuel Blanchet, Trevor Hunt and Cole Klippenstein added single markers.
The Trappers came into the game after a huge victory for the Eskis only 24 hours prior in Iroquois Falls. Jr. Trappers head coach Tom McCarthy says it is very hard to beat the same team five times in a short period of time, but knows what that can bring out of a rivalry.
“Over the time of those five games that are played, a lot of animosity is growing and you saw how the game ended up and how scrappy it was getting and little scrums after whistles,” he said.
“Those are built up after playing hockey against the same players over and over and you find like last night and tonight, there wasn’t super flow in the game, there was a few moments here or there or maybe short stints of five minutes where you saw hockey, then you saw some scrappy stuff and the flow of the game never got going because of the amount of penalties, the way the game was controlled or not controlled.”
The win did come at a price, as Beau Orser got hit face first into the boards and left the game with a minor shoulder separation.
“It should only take a couple weeks,” said McCarthy, “It’s very minor but it’s still something that’s going to keep a good hockey player out of the line up and hopefully, it doesn’t hurt him or hinder him come playoff time.”
Greg Dodds got the start in net, making 19 saves in the win. With two games remaining in the regular season, McCarthy admits Dodds seemed “a little off” tonight, but that he may be ready to stick with his veteran goaltender for the long haul.
“He’s usually very poised and calm but a little off today,” said McCarthy, “Doddsy, being 20 years old and being our goalie who is starting the playoffs, it’ll probably be his call if he gets both or one and which one he wants, if he only wants one so I’m pretty sure we’ll finish the year with Doddsy in our last two games, we gotta get a win to get first place, it’s vital and obviously Doddsy’s at 27 wins for us so he’s probably the right guy for that job to be done.”
The Trappers didn’t get off to a good start in this one, however, as Ryan Tront opened the scoring 21 seconds into the game.
Bean tied it at 11:30, taking a drop pass from Brennen Dubchak as they entered the zone, opening the lane for Bean to put the puck top corner on Eskis goaltender Jackson Winkler.
The Traps took the lead at 13:58, Blanchet sending a pass from below the goal line into the slot to a streaking Langford, who one timed it by Winkler.
A point shot sent wide caused a bit of a frenzy inside the Eskis zone, but after another shot, the rebound bounced right to an open Blanchet and only 41 seconds after feeding Langford, he pockets one into the open cage and it was 3-1.
The Eskis got back in it with another early period goal in the second. This time, it was two minutes in and it was Justin Holliday with the goal.
Hunt got the lead back up to two at 16:22, a two-on-two rush coming into the zone, Hunt kept the puck and fired a shot that appeared to deflect off Winkler’s shoulder before going in the net.
The Trappers put their second ranked power play on display with just under a minute to go in the second as only six seconds after Holliday took a penalty, Carter Horwitz put a puck on a tee for Klippenstein to fire home his eleventh goal on the power play and give the Traps a 5-2 lead.
Langford scored his second of the game at 8:04 of the third, a power play marker to extend the lead to four.
Aaron Kerr tipped a point shot on a four-on-three situation at 14:20 to cut into the lead, but that is as close as the Eskis would get.
The Trappers can clinch first place with a win against the Blind River Beavers on Friday night. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Gardens.
The second place Soo Thunderbirds play in Sudbury on Wednesday night. A loss in regulation for the T-Birds means the Trappers lock up the NOJHL’s top spot and a first round bye.
The Eskis have a three-game road trip next weekend out west against Blind River, the Soo and Elliot Lake to wrap up their season. They remain three points behind both the Beavers and Bobcats, who are tied for fifth place with 32 points.
-The attendance was 495.
-Final shots were 42-22 for the Trappers.
-The Eskis were one-for 13 on the power play, while the Trappers were two-for-nine.