LEWISTON — The New Hampshire Fighting Spirit weren’t about to leave their future home without a win.

Following a one-goal loss to the Lockport Express in their Twin Cities’ debut Friday, the Fighting Spirit left no doubt that they’d come away with a series split Sunday.

New Hampshire scored five power-play goals — three in the third period — and skated to a 5-2 victory over the Express at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in a chippy battle that included 26 penalties and 117 penalty minutes.

“We knew we had to come in today and win one because we’ve been treated so well here and we’re all revved up to win a game,” New Hampshire forward Nick Pino said. “We weren’t leaving without one. You could see how we skated today that we weren’t leaving without a win.” 

The Fighting Spirit never led on Friday. They led throughout Sunday. Mike Heffernan gave New Hampshire its first lead at the Colisee at 16:47 of the first period off a faceoff win in the offensive zone. Pino won the draw to Heffernan, who ripped a shot from the edge of the left circle past Lockport goaltender Tyler Shotwell.

Penalties became Lockport’s undoing, specifically in the second period. The Express were whistled for seven penalties — three majors — and two game misconducts. The Fighting Spirit scored on all three resulting power plays.


“Our power play started to work today,” Fighting Spirit coach Rod Simmons said. “Even though two of our power-play guys aren’t with us this weekend, we gelled today. I thought it was an improvement from nerves or whatever on Friday. I think we came out and played maybe 55 minutes of a 60-minute game.” 

The first of the frame came on an extended 5-on-3. With Lockport’s Jordan Pocobello serving a five-minute major for roughing, teammate Christopher Gasiewicz was whistled for a roughing minor, giving New Hampshire a two-man advantage for 1:57. Ryan Dunfield capitalized, rocketing a shot past Shotwell from the blue line to give the Fighting Spirit a 2-0 lead.

With Gasiewicz still in the box, New Hampshire bumped its lead to 3-0 as David Fish found a shooting lane from the left point at 14:03 of the second period.

Tensions boiled not too quickly after New Hampshire’s third goal. A boarding penalty along the Fighting Spirit bench set off a near line brawl. Only Lockport’s Christian Whitcomb and New Hampshire’s Federic Pugin were assessed fighting majors and game misconducts. Whitcomb was also charged with a five-minute major for boarding, while Pugin was given an instigating minor. 

“I try to explain that when you’re at the top of your division, people make their season’s by playing you,” Simmons said. “You need to rise above that and learn how to win. They’re young, I’ve got a young team, so we have to learn how to win, learn that other teams are going to do whatever they can to get in our head.”

The result was a three-minute power play for New Hampshire, which it turned into a fourth power-play goal. Christian Babineau fed a pass to Pino, who skated into the slot and wristed a shot past Shotwell as the Fighting Spirit took a 4-0 lead into the second intermission. 


The Express cut New Hampshire’s lead to 4-2 with goals by Gasiewicz and Mark Friol. Friol’s goal came short-handed with 7:37 remaining. 

The Fighting Spirit thwarted that comeback attempt with their fifth power-play goal of the contest. Just 12 seconds after Friol’s short-handed tally, Pino netted his second goal with the man advantage to seal New Hampshire’s first victory in its new building. 

“Today we really got both of our power plays running,” Pino said. “Lately our first power-play unit’s been doing really well, but our second power-play unit is now contributing, especially today. We were all working today as a line, not just one or two guys. The chemisty’s there.” 

The result wasn’t in doubt after Pino’ second goal, but that didn’t mean the penalties weren’t done piling up. The final 3:35 saw six penalties and two ejections. Lockport’s Ryan Logar and New Hampshire’s Andrew Gass were shown the exit amid a scrum in front of the Fighting Spirit bench. A New Hampshire assistant coach was also tossed for arguing with officials. 

“We all tell each other to keep our cool,” Pino said. “We’ve learned earlier this year that penalties can lose you a game. We just know better than to fall to that level.”

Three Express skaters were issued at least 14 minutes of penalties, led by Whitcomb with 27. The Fighting Spirit had two players with 10 or more. Pugin had a team-high 19. 


New Hampshire held a 55-24 advantage in shots.

Fighting Spirit goaltender Claes Endre made 22 saves to earn the victory. Shotwell finished with 50 saves. 

The Fighting Spirit hope this isn’t their last game at the Colisee this season. The Colisee will host the NA3EHL championship series. 

“We loved being here,” Simmons said. “Our guys loved being here. I hope it was entertaining for everybody. We look forward to hopefully making the championship here.” 

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