NA3HL: Nordiques home is on the road for the first round of the playoffs

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L/A Nordiques forward Kyle Secor celebrates after a teammate scored a goal at the far end of the ice on Northeast Generals goalie Lucas Souza during their game at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston in January.

If the L/A Nordiques want to move onto the second round of the NA3HL playoffs, they will have to be road warriors.

The Nordiques, the No. 2 seed in the Coastal Division, earned home ice advantage for their three-game playoff series with the No. 3 Northeast Generals, but due to equipment failure and the Maine Home Show at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, the Nordiques will have to go on the road.

Game one of the series Wednesday won’t be too far from home, though. L/A will host Northeast at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn at 7:30 p.m. Games two and three will be at 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.

If the series gets to a third game, the Nordiques will be considered the home team and will get the last line change.

“We have three games on the road, but that’s not on our minds right now,” Nordiques coach Cam Robichaud said. “The message was pretty clear to the boys (Tuesday) morning, we are looking for two points on frozen water Wednesday night. That’s all we care about. There’s some boards, there’s some ice and there’s another team. We are looking to get two points, no matter who we play.”

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The winner of the series will play the winner of the New England Stars-Maine Wild series. The Stars are the No. 1 seed and the Wild are the No. 4 seed. The winner of the second round of the playoffs will represent the Coastal Division at the Fraser Cup Championship Tournament in Romeoville, Illinois on March 27-31.

The tournament is a round robin format that places the league’s eight division champions into two pools of four. The top two teams in each pool go to the semifinals and the semifinal winners meet in the final to determine the league champion.

The Nordiques are evenly matched with the Generals — the teams split the season series, 3-3. Five of those six games have come in 2018. Robichaud said he doesn’t mind playing the Generals on the road.

“To be honest with you, two of their three wins came at the Colisee,” Robichaud said. “I don’t mind playing down there because it seems we play well. I think we have had a 7-2 game and a 6-2 game that we won at their place and we had a 6-2 win at the Colisee. The wins we have had against them have been pretty lopsided. The losses have been closer. I know we have had a 4-3, 3-2 and a 3-0 games in our losses to them.”

Robichaud said all four teams have good goaltending going into the playoffs. Generals goaltender Lucas Souza had a 3-0 shutout victory over the Nordiques on Dec. 10, when he made 24 saves.

He said another strength the Generals have is depth.

“They definitely have some guys that can put the puck into the back of the net,” Robichaud said. “Marc Faia and (Austin) Braley are some of their top point guys. They can put the puck in the back of the net. The last time we played them, last week we went down and we scored two goals in the first five minutes. They came too and ended up winning that game in a comeback victory.”

The Generals won that game 4-3 on March 7, scoring four unanswered goals.

Marc Faia had 28 goals and 37 assists for 65 points in 47 games for the Generals while Austin Braley has 31 goals and 28 assists. Fedor Lopaev has 21 goals and 28 assists in 45 games while Alex O’Dowd has 13 goals and 31 assists in 47 games.

After Caleb Labrie (70 points), Shayne Plummer (67 points) and Cole Ouellette (59 points) lead the Nodriques. One of the hottest lines on the team is the Zack Mullen-Colby Audette-Clifford Ogle group. Mullin has 40 points while Audette and Ogle each have 34 points.

“We did have some movement in lines and it was a line that was together early on in the year,” Robichaud said. “There was some juggling going on and they came back. They seem to be meshing well and just the excitement of the postseason, being here, kind of gave the guys a second wind. The junior season obviously is a long season and it can be grinding on the body, with the travel, the amount of games and practices. I think once you get to playoffs, and playing for a championship, you get that second wind and get a little jump back in your step. For those three, I think that’s the case, they are excited for the playoffs and playing well.”

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L/A Nordiques forward Armand O’Keefe loses and edge and falls in front of Northeast Generals forward Jacob Kelly (7) during their game at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston in January.

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