Kyle Secor of the L/A Nordiques collides with Nicklas Norrefjord of the Northeast Generals during the first period in Lewiston on Sunday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
LEWISTON — The L/A Nordiques did something for the first time all season.
They were shut out.
The Coastal Division-leading Nordiques dropped a 3-0 decision to the second-place Northeast Generals in front of 600 fans at Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Sunday afternoon.
To make matters worse, not only did the Nordiques get shut out in a key divisional contest, it was the team’s Teddy Bear Toss game, where fans were encouraged to bring in a teddy bear or stuffed animal to throw on the ice — they would be donated to the Hope House of Lewiston — when the home team scored its first goal.
The fans waited patiently, but it wasn’t until the game went final that they were able to throw their stuffed animals on the ice.
“Obviously you are looking for that goal for all the teddy bears on the ice for the fans. It just didn’t happen tonight,” Nordiques coach Cam Robichaud said. “We had a couple posts and I thought we got close a couple of times. At the end of the day we had a goose egg up there.”
Generals goalie Lucas Souza made 24 saves for his first shutout of the season.
“He has been a stud back there for us,” Generals coach Daryl Locke said. “He really has been our go-to guy in the net in all the big games, not just this game. He’s been solid and we look forward for him to continue that.”
The Generals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Matt Hamel fed Marc Faia in the slot. Faia kept his shot low to the ice and the puck went through Nordiques goaltender Sage Broda’s legs at 5:25 into the contest. Tyler Rydek also had an assist.
Robichaud thought the Generals came to play.
“They understood it was a one-two matchup and I don’t think our guys did, to be honest with you” Robichaud said. “They came out and they were winning 50-50 pucks, they were fast, they were taking away time and space. They were hitting us like crazy in the first. They beat us in the first period. They won the game in the first period.”
The Nordiques lead the Coastal Division with 44 points, while the Generals are four points back.
This was both teams’ third game in three days, but for the Generals, they traveled throughout the Northeast. They played Friday in Long Beach, N.Y., had a home game in Attleboroo, Mass. on Saturday before traveling to Lewiston on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Nordiques only had a bus ride to Biddeford on Saturday after they had a home game Friday.
L/A couldn’t capitalize on its first power play opportunity of the afternoon. Just 33 seconds into the man advantage, Saturday night’s hero Nick Ventura took an interference penalty with 6:02 remaining in the opening period.
The Generals kept moving their legs until the final buzzer of the first period when Fedor Lopaev finished off a 2-on-1 play with five seconds remaining. The assists went to Austin Braley and Alex O’Dowd.
The score remained 2-0 after 40 minutes and the Generals continued to pepper Broda. The Nordiques’ netminder made two outstanding saves in the second to keep the game 2-0. He made 11 of his 31 saves in the frame.
“Goaltending coach John Racine showed me some clips during the intermission and there were some unbelievable stops,” Robichaud said. “If you see it on film it’s like ‘how did he even make that save?’ Without him, it could have been ugly.”
With Luke Whelan in the box for the Generals, the Nordiques couldn’t capitalize on their second power play of the afternoon.
Braley stretched the lead to 3-0 with 7:21 remaining as he made a power move behind the net and was able to wrap it around Broda. Assists went to Rybek and Whelan.
“The line of Faia, Braley and Rybek is our best line as far as grinding down low, making plays and getting pucks to the net,” Locke said. “Overall, they have been tremendous all season for us. I can’t ask for anything more.”
The Nordiques have three games starting next Sunday at the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, where they will take on the North Iowa Bulls, the Metro Jets and the Binghamton Jr. Senators.
They return to the Colisee Jan. 5 and 6 against the Northeast Generals.
Carter Mercier, 10, of Lewiston high-fives Santa Claus during the L/A Nordiques hockey game in Lewiston on Sunday. Mercier is a fourth-grade student at McMahon Elementary School. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Caleb Labrie of the L/A Nordiques gets the puck past Fedor Lopaev of the Northeast Generals during the game in Lewiston on Sunday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Zack Mullen of the L/A Nordiques skates the puck along the boards during Sunday’s game against the Northeast Generals. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)