The Nickel City Sons might well have earned a weekend split, but the loss was a key one as the team continues to battle for first-round home ice advantage in the playoffs.
A bounce-back 6-5 victory over the North Bay Trappers likely salvaged the weekend for the Sons, but the 4-1 loss at the hands of the Timmins Majors on Dec. 22 was likely more crucial.
With the win, Timmins moved a point ahead of Nickel City in fourth place in league standings, though the Sons hold two games in hand. Unfortunately for coach Joel Whissell and company, the district No. 2 crew also close out with six of their final 10 games against the top three teams in the league: namely Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury and Kapuskasing.
The Dec. 22 encounter was played quite evenly, but a failure to find the back of the net hurt the Sons once again. Austin Boulard netted a pair of goals for Timmins, with Kevin Guertin and Tyler Romain adding one apiece as the visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Nickel City captain Malcolm Bilton managed to break the shutout bid of Devon Caron-Debastos, but Boulard answered just 17 seconds later with his second of the game, sealing the win for Timmins.
Scoring was not nearly as much of an issue on Dec. 23 as the Sons benefited from a Trappers' goaltending tandem that was a tad suspect in this encounter.
Michael Michel, Alex St Marseille, Brody Brunet, Kurtis Clouthier, Sheldon Lalonde and Nathan Shane scored once each while Tyler Peters and Jake Staples countered with two goals each for North Bay.
Nathaniel McLeod rounded out the scoring for the Trappers, now five points back of Nickel City.