Junior hockey: Maine Nordiques use depth in win over Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks
LEWISTON — The Maine Nordiques distributed the scorers as five players found the back of the net in a 5-3 win over the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks at The Colisee on Friday night.
“That’s how we’re designed, we’re designed with depth,” said Maine Nordiques coach Matt Pinchevsky. “There are no first line, second line, third line, fourth line, bubble guys. We are a family. Everything everyone does brings us success. We’re all trying to pull together.”
Danbury’s (2-25-5, 9 points) losing streak is now 18 games, the last win coming in Lewiston in a 2-1 win on October 21.
The Hat Tricks had a new bench manager Friday in Patrik Stefan, the No. 1 pick in the 1999 NHL draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. Former head coach Frosted Voity has a new role in Danbury’s organization with the Federal Prospects Hockey League team. Stefan is remembered not the 64 goals he scored in his career but the goal he failed to score on January 4, 2007 with the Dallas Stars against the Edmonton Oilers. He stole the puck on the offensive blue line and then missed with an empty net. The Oilers went down the ice in the final seconds to level the game 5-5. However, the Stars won the game 6-5 in a shootout.
Stefan has a son, Wyatt, on the team and a few years ago coached his older son James at the 15U AAA level with the Little Caesars program in Detroit, Michigan.
“I had a pretty good idea of the team because I followed every single game on my laptop and on TV,” said Patrik Stefan. “I had a pretty good idea of the team. You can watch games all day on TV, but until you sit behind the bench and really get a feel for the kids and players and feel the game… that showed me and felt for me where the team is.”
The Nordiques (15-10-2, 32 points) started the game with a bang, scoring two goals in the first 33 seconds of the competition to give them a 2-0 lead. Tony Achilles shot fluttered past Danbury goalie Matthew O’Donnell (33 saves) for a 1-0 lead. Patrick Schmiedlin counted the assist.
Oliver Genest scored defender Evan Orloff’s second goal.
Maine continued to fire shots at O’Donnell throughout the first period but could not find the back of the net.
Danbury leveled the battle at the end of the first period when Wyatt Stefan found the net from behind the Maine goal line from the back of Nordique goalkeeper Thomas Heaney.
“It’s part of the game; Sometimes you get lucky charms and sometimes you work hard for things and they go in,” said Patrik Stefan.
The goal came at 16:32 and two minutes later Chase Sandhu shot past Heaney from the right circle (14 saves).
Early in the second half, Nordiques forward Kellen Murphy sent the puck toward the crease and Brendan Gibbons chased it down to tap it past O’Donnell for a 3-2 lead for Maine.
The puck started bouncing in the second period and the Nordiques struggled to remove the puck from the defending zone. Danbury leveled the game when forward Logan Nickerson ran in on Heaney to hit him with a wrist shot at the 16:36 mark to level the game 3-3.
Heaney made a few saves on a couple of Danbury’s breakaway opportunities, including two in the last 30 seconds.
“I just needed to keep my head clear; I struggled a bit throughout the game,” Heaney said. “The guys were there to help me and I only had to save when it mattered.”
Aidan Coupe gave the Nordiques a 4-3 lead almost three minutes into the third half when he ran untouched into the offensive zone and slipped the puck past O’Donnell.
“He’s physically involved,” Pinchevsky said of Coupe. “He’s not a 200-pounder; He weighs 170 pounds and he’s really physical. You will be rewarded if you love the game in all areas.”
Again, the Nordiques drove into the net to score. This time Laurent Trepanier went to the crease but couldn’t fire a shot. Andrew Gibbons put the loose rebound 11:26 into the third period.
Gibbons joined the Nordiques while his prep school team, the St. Marks in Southborough, Massachusetts, was on hiatus. He has four goals and seven assists in nine games this season.
“The first thing that came to my mind was to make sure I could just get on the grid,” said Andrew Gibbons. “This is a huge step up from prep hockey and I’m just making sure I’m in the right place at the right time and using my speed to get into the net. The puck could squeak out and I could hit it home. The rest was blurry for me.”
Andrew Gibbons is the brother of Nordiques veteran Brendan Gibbons and joins the Air Force like Brendan.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play with my brother since I was three or four,” Andrew said. “Being able to play with him is great – being able to play for the Nordiques is great. Being able to practice during Thanksgiving break and getting into a game is amazing.”
REMARKS: The hat-tricks are goaltenderless and the University of Maine sign Patriks Berzins, who is taking Latvia to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick.
Berzins has started all four games for Latvia. He’s 0-4 with 2.71 goals against average and a 0.914 percent save rate.
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