L/A Nordiques’ Joe Bisson is chased around the back of the net by Alberto Pison during a December game at the Colisee in Lewiston. Sun Journal file photo

 

LEWISTON — Out of the 15 games the L/A Nordiques have played since Christmas break, only six have been against playoff teams.

So the Nordiques are excited to have meaningful games again when they open the NA3HL playoffs agaisnt the Long Beach Sharks on Friday.

The Nordiques, the No. 1 seed with a 43-4 record in the regular season, play the Coastal Division semifinals at home this weekend against the No. 4 Sharks, who went 15-30-2.

All three games will be at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. The start times for Games 1 and 2 will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. If necessary, Game 3 will be Sunday at 2 p.m.

The winner of the series will take on the winner of the other semifinal between the Northeast Generals and the New England Stars series March 22-24 for the right to go to the Fraser Cup Championship, in which the six division champions face off to crown the league champion (March 27-31 in Woodbridge, Illinois).

“We are very excited. I think we had a great week of preparation, and the boys have been working really hard but (are) energized with a lot of enthusiasm this week with our training,” L/A Nordiques head coach Cam Robichaud said. “It feels like we’ve had a slow month. We’ve had two weekends off and a random Wednesday makeup game. We are hungry, which is good because it allowed us to push a little harder and increase our endurance and conditioning levels.”

Robichaud used the second half of the week to lower the workload on the players and work on team systems ahead of the series against the Sharks.

The Nordiques also played intrasquad scrimmages at the beginning of the week as Robichaud brought in players to take a look at for next year, which has helped the competitive spirit of the practices. The Nordiques haven’t played a game since March 6. The Sharks wrapped up their season this past Saturday.

“This week, specifically, we’ve had future guys coming in, just taking looks at them for our (NA3HL) team next year, but the (North American Hockey League) team as well,” Nordiques defenseman Donovan Tehan said. “Having them in, they like to showcase and see what the players got, we are doing competitive battle drills and we doing a decent amount of scrimmaging as well.

“It’s high-intensity, high-tempo scrimmages, not like stick and puck. You have to battle. That doesn’t take the place of playing, but it definitely helps you stay in that mindset of competitive competition.”

The Nordiques and Sharks have faced each other eight times this season. The Nordiques won all eight matchups and outscored Long Beach 72-21 in those eight games. While the 51 goal differential is solid for L/A, the Sharks have played the Nordiques tough this season.

On Oct. 5, the Nordiques defeated Long Beach 4-2. L/A never trailed in the game. The Sharks had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes on Oct. 27 before the Nordiques scored five goals in the second and third periods for a 11-6 win.

The key for the players is staying focused through the weekend and not looking ahead to either the Stars or the Generals.

“The whole year has been like that,” Tehan said. “There are multiple teams that we play throughout the year that aren’t necessarily on our level of competition. Obviously, its hard to stay focused because you are thinking its point night, I can score, I can pass and get as many points as I can. Definitely staying focused, the coaching staff keeps you motivated everyday. You see upsets all the time, not just in our league, but every sport in general.

“It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, but if we want are trying to get to Chicago and win the whole thing, that’s something as we group we have to stay focused on. We can’t overlook anybody. If we get up by a couple of goals, keep the pedal to the medal, keep grinding and doing our thing that we need to do. Hopefully the end result will be proof of that.

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