Kirkland Lake Gold Miners’ defenceman Ethan Strong looks to block this shot during Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Abitibi.
KIRKLAND LAKE - The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners won their second straight game to start their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season Wednesday night as they defeated the Abitibi Eskimos 5-1 at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
The Gold Miners got off to a slow start to say the least and never found a flow throughout the period.
Penalties also hampered the team and with both Tyler Romain and Ethan Strong in the penalty box, Iroquois falls scored on a Ryan Kerr shot to put the Eskis in front 1-0.
With two-and-a-half minutes left in the period Jeremy Picard-Fiset blasted a shot that eluded Eskis goalie Chet Tooker and the scored was tied a 1-1.
Charles-Etienne Bruneau-Crete and Cosimo Amore chipped in with the assists on the play.
In the second period the Miners offense kicked into gear and it meant a four-goal outburst for Kirkland Lake.
Just over six minutes into the frame Steven Babin scored with the assists going to Chris Pearson and Ryan Swain.
Just 38 seconds later Bruneau-Crete scored with help from Alexi Rivet and Tyler Romain.
With just under six minutes left in the second period Swain made it 4-1 with help from Jeremy Dumont and Babin. Then with about a minute and a half left in the period Joel Fortin scored with the assists going to Tristen Hazlett and Christian Bortoluzzi.
There was no scoring in the third period.
After the game it was very evident Kirkland Lake Head Coach Marc Lafleur was not pleased with the first period and he said between periods the players were shown the video to point out what he felt was wrong.
“We were slow to start (especially) in the first two or three minutes. There is starting to be a concern. We are not getting off to fast starts and it was evident again tonight. Its a matter of the guys not focusing and not doing the small details that we ask.
“Come the second period we capitalized on a couple of their mistakes. We got the bounces.”
One thing Coach Lafleur stated was he felt the penalty kill was overall, done well.
“The guys are getting in front of the shots. Again I wasn’t happy about the first and we talked before the game about our P.K. unit but the guys adjusted in the second period and third. The whole game of hockey is based on adjustments.”
Over the first two games the Miners have had a lot of power play time but Lafleur feels its simply something that is currently happening everywhere in hockey.
“If you take a look at every game in the league right now there is a lot of power plays.
“I said this last year, there is always a lot of calls (being made) early in the year. It doesn’t matter what league it is, what level it is. There are a lot of special team units that are played, I would say throughout the first 10 games or so, so its going to happen.”
After the lopsided win over Mattawa Lafleur stated emphatically that nothing should or could be read from a 10-0 win.
As for the victory over Abitibi he says to some degree its more of an indication as to where Kirkland Lake stands but with special teams playing such a key role in games right now its still tough to judge each opponent.
“There are a lot of special teams (play) out there right now and I don’t think there are many games that are good indicators of how good or bad teams are. I am not saying this in a bad way but its one special team after another so its tough to judge who is good and who is bad.”
Miners’ defenceman and Co-Captain Jeremy Picard-Fiset was pleased with the win but added they have work to do.
“It was a good effort but we still have some improvements to make. However at the end of the day we still have the two points. Its a win.”
Meantime Fiset spoke about becoming one of this year’s Co-Captains.
“Its an honour but its not going to change me as a person. I am going to do my best to play my game and show my leadership especially for the young guys.”
He added everyone on the team is starting to bond and the chemistry is starting to build. Through the first two games the team has received contributions from a lot of players including rookies such as Ryan Swain. He too was pleased with the win.
“It felt good. I was glad we were finally able to get rolling in the second period. We started off a little slow but we picked it up a lot in the second.
Friday’s game against Sudbury will have the usual 7:30 start time.