New England Stars center Ryan Gauvin, middle, and the L/A Nordiques’ Armand O’Keefe face off during Wednesday night’s game at Skate 3 Arena in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts on Wednesday. The Stars won in overtime, 4-3.
L/A Nordiques coach Cam Robichaud knew his team had to try and keep New England Stars defenseman Derek Flynn at bay in the first game of the teams’ best-of-3 division final series.
Despite the Nordiques’ efforts, Flynn was heavily involved on the scoresheet Wednesday, notching two assists in regulation before netting the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Stars a 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series advantage.
His goal came with 7:25 remaining in the first 20-minute overtime session. Michael Lempiainen and Cole Archambeault picked up the assists.
“He’s a great player,” Robichaud said. “He was on my team at the (NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Plymouth, Michigan, in February), so I got to know him a little better there at that event. He’s a great kid, he’s a great competitor. He’s serious, he plays really intense…I really enjoy watching him. I wish it wasn’t against me tonight, but he’s a good player.”
The Nordiques sent the game into overtime when Cole Ouellette tied the game 4:12 into the third period for his second goal of the playoffs. JP Chauvin had the assist.
The Nordiques also had their chances on a power play with 1:10 remaining in regulation, but couldn’t finish on either side of the break.
“In the first minute-ten-seconds of the power play, we had five shots, three of them missed the net, two of them were good. ” Robichaud said. “No one was hungry enough to put the puck in front (of the net). The period ended, we had 50 seconds on fresh ice after a break and chalk talk in the intermission to come out and win the game. Simply put, we did not do that. We didn’t get in the zone, we didn’t want it. They wanted it more, power play over.”
Hunter Norris put the Stars up 1-0 7:28 into the game with Flynn and James Wilson setting the goal up. It was a back-and-forth second period as Caleb Labrie tied the game up with his fifth goal of the playoffs just past the six-minute mark with Ouellette and Joshua Sanchez setting the goal up that tied the game at one.
The Stars retook the lead at the 10:33 mark of the middle stanza on the power play when Tyson Gudaitis notched his first goal of the playoffs. Norris and Zachary Cormier picked up the assists.
The Stars were 1-for-2 on the power play while the Nordiques were 0-for-4.
Joe Bisson scored to even the game back up at the 12:16 mark of the second period.
New England went into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead after Michael Lempiainen potted his second goal of the postseason. Ian Gatley and Flynn had the assists.
Andrew Ghimpeteanu made 19 saves in the victory while Michael Errico also stopped 19 shots.
The Nordiques host Game 2 Thursday at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn at 7 p.m. If they win, Game 3 will be back in Massachusetts on Friday at 8:10 p.m.