Alex Peddle trimmed Lockport’s lead to one in the losing minutes, but the New Hampshire Fighting Spirit couldn’t net the equalizer in a 3-2 loss to Lockport on Friday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. It was the first junior hockey game in Lewiston since 2011. 

“The atmosphere was awesome,” Fighting Spirit forward Simon Campbell said. “Having all the people there made it that much greater. Every shift was awesome to play for a crowd that big.” 

The first NA3EHL goal in the history of the Colisee went to Lockport’s Ryan Logar. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound forward blasted a shot from the right circle over the stick-side shoulder of New Hampshire goaltender Adam Higdon to give the Express a 1-0 lead with 13:11 left in the first period.

Playing in front of 850 fans, the largest crowd both teams have played in front of this season, nerves factored into the equation early. 

“There’s a lot of nerves,” Fighting Spirit coach Rod Simmons said. “We had nerves all week when we were here practicing. Being a young team this year we knew it going in that we’d be gripping the stick too tight, we’d be overthinking our systems instead of just moving our feet. But that’s maturing. They’re young men. That’s how they learn.” 

Lockport’s opening tally came as a result of the Fighting Spirit (25-5-1) being unable to clear the puck out of their defensive zone. Dillon Hayes intercepted a pass near the blue line and fed a pass to Logar on the opposite side of the ice.


New Hampshire came into the game thin on the blue line as its top three defenseman have gone down with injuries. 

“What are you going to do?” Simmons said. “There’s no where to run and hide, right? ‘All right boys, let’s go back to your minor hockey days, who’s played D?’ That’s what we had to do, but no excuse. They have a good squad. They move the puck well.”

The Fighting Spirit answered just 26 seconds later. Campbell knocked home a rebound in front of the net to the left of Lockport goaltender Ryan Kostelnik to knot the game 1-1. Kostelnik had moved to his right to block aside a shot off the stick of Christian Babineau, but the rebound came out to Kostelnik alone in front.

“My two other linemates did most of the work,” Campbell said. “I was just there to bang it in. (Nick) Peno won the faceoff and he got a shot on net and (Babineau) crashed the net and he was battling for it. I think he got another shot and it just happen to bounce up in front of me and I poked it in.”

The Express (23-9-1) reclaimed their advantage late in a chippy second period. A shot from Frank Vecchio in the slot deflected off the chest of Peter Guido, who was posted up to the side of the net, and past Higdon as Lockport grabbed a 2-1 lead with 1:27 left in the period.

Penalties became New Hampshire’s undoing in the third period as Lockport capitalized on a 5-on-3 to build a 3-1 lead with 6:29 remaining. Following a tripping penalty by Brett Bittner and a cross-checking infraction assessed to Josh Bowman, Lockport’s Anthony Merante crashed the net and knocked in a loose puck amid a scrum in front of Higdon. 


New Hampshire made it interesting late, trimming Lockport’s lead to 3-2 with 2:48 left. Peddle sniped a shot over Kostelnik’s glove-side shoulder off a faceoff win by Frederic Pugin.

The Fighting Spirit pulled Higdon with less than a minute remaining looking for the equalizer, but Kostelnik and the Express defense held on to grab the win in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. 

“It’s a frustrating feeling in your stomach,” Campbell said. “It would have been nice to start off with a bang and get a W our first game here.” 

The Express held a 35-34 edge in shots. 

The teams close out the series Sunday at noon at the Colisee. 

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