L/A Nordiques’ Zack Mullen and Northeast Generals’ Luke Whalen battle for control of the puck during the first game of the NA3HL playoffs at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — For L/A Nordiques forward Cale Labrie, it was good to be back at the Norway Savings Bank Arena.
The former St. Dominic Academy and Central Maine Community College standout returned in style to the arena he use to call home. The overage forward had four goals and two assists as the Nordiques routed the Northeastern Generals 9-1 in the first game of the teams’ NA3HL Coastal Division playoff matchup.
“It was definitely fun, especially with Cole (Ouellette) and Joe (Bisson), who I played against in high school and now we are on the same team,” Labrie said. “It’s alway fun when you get a big win in front of a lot of fans. It was definitely a good time.”
Labrie wasn’t the only Nordique to have a big game. Shayne Plummer had a goal and four assists, and Josh Sanchez had a goal and three assists. Bisson, who played at Lewiston High School, had two goals.
The Nordiques opened the game with a dominating first period, led by Labrie, who scored the opeing two goals. The first came at the 3:59 mark when he fired the puck from the right circle that beat Generals goalie Nicholas Sesock cleanly. Assists went to Joshua Sanchez and JP Chauvin.
Labrie’s second goal came on a play the Nordiques tried earlier in the period.
Chauvin flicked the puck just under the rafters from his defensive zone. Labrie split the defense and was able to chase the puck down as it entered the offensive zone. Again he was all alone with Sesock and snapped the puck past him at the 12:57 mark. Shayne Plummer also had an assist.
“Our white line, we call them, with Sanchez, Plummer and Caleb, they were playing well,” Nordiques coach Cam Robichaud said. “Obviously, Caleb had four goals, but the other two were passing the puck well. They were four very nice goals, they weren’t garbage goals. It was nice to see them, you want your top scorers scoring in important games and they did tonight.”
L/A scored again exactly two minutes later. This time, Labrie was part of the set up, as Donovan Tehan stretched the lead to 3-0. Plummer picked up the primary assist, while Labrie had the secondary. The goal ended Sesock’s night in goal for the Generals.
Sesock stopped three shots on six chances.
“Obviously, they are prepared and they came out strong and fast,” Generals coach Darryl Locke said. “We were playing catch-up from the beginning of the game. You can’t play catch-up against a good team at the beginning of the game — it will continue the whole game.”
It wasn’t much better for backup Kyle Wagner, but Bisson made it 4-0 with 1:52 remaining in the period when he used his speed down the right wing, cut to the net and slipped it past Wagner. Sanchez and Chauvin had the assists.
Bisson and his brother Nick Bisson joined the team in February after starting the year out at Hebron Academy.
“It brought back a bunch of old memories, and it’s great being back on the ice with Cole and Nick, because they are former Blue Devils, too,” Joe Bisson said.
Plummer scored on the power play at the 6:01 mark of the second period. Cole Ouellette and Sanchez notched the assists.
Bisson collected his second goal of the game at the 7:52 mark of the middle frame. Connor Kennedy and Nick Ventura had the assists.
The Generals final got on the board right after they killed off a penalty. With Davis Kisielis coming out of the box, it created an odd-man rush for the Generals, and Marc Faia found Stephen Toal at the 12:18 mark.
Northeast started getting frustrated. Nicklas Norrefjord picked up a roughing penalty along with L/A’s Kyle Secor. In addition, Austin Braley picked up a charging call and general manager and part-owner Bryan Erikson was tossed after giving the official a piece of his mind, and earned the team a bench minor. While leaving the bench, he tossed a water bottle into the Generals penalty box and threw three spare sticks onto the ice.
On the ensuing 5-on-3 power play, Labrie completed the hat trick with 5:03 remaining in the second period. Plummer and Zach Mullen had the assists.
More extracurricular penalties occurred late in the second period. L/A’s Crewz Berry got a five-minute major and a game misconduct for facemasking, and Northeast’s Austin Braley picked up two minutes for charging.
After two minutes of 4-on-4, the Nordiques killed off the remaining three minutes on Berry’s major.
Sanchez finally found the back of the net when he finished a 2-on-1 with Caleb Labrie to make it 8-1 in favor of the Nordiques, 4:04 into the third period. Plummer had an secondary assist.
“I heard him calling for it and I saw a little bit of an opening,” Labrie said. “I knew if I got it to open space, he had the open shot. You gotta make it easy on the linemates, they made it easy for me all night, I had to give it back.”
The Nordiques had their own five-minute power play when Northeast’s Jacob Kelly was given a major and a game misconduct for kicking.
Labrie capped the scoring off with 26 seconds remaining in the game.
The series moves to the Generals’ home rink, the New England Sports Village, in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Game two will be Friday at 6 p.m., and Game three, if it’s necessary, will be Saturday at 5 p.m.
L/A Nordiques’ Donovan Tehan shoots the puck past Northeast Generals’ Matt Hammel for a goal during the first period of the first game of the NA3HL playoffs at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night. L/A Nordiques’ Caleb Labrie moves into the play from the left. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)L/A Nordiques’ celebrate a goal during the first game of the NA3HL playoffs at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
L/A Nordiques’ Joe Bisson controls the puck as Northeast Generals’ Nicklas Norrefjord tries to intercept during the first game of the NA3HL playoffs at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
L/A Nordiques’ celebrate a goal during the first game of the NA3HL playoffs at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)