LEWISTON — The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights dealt the Maine Nordiques their third consecutive loss with a 3-1 NAHL junior hockey win in front of 688 fans at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Tuesday.

The three-game losing streak is the first for the first-year Nordiques.

The Knights were led by goalie Zach Stejskal, who stopped 40 of the 41 shots he faced. Stejskalthe University of Minnesota-Duluth, the two-time defending NCAA Division I champion.

“If you see a lot of shots, you can get into a rhythm,” Stejskal said. “I stuck to my game and it worked out. Yeah, you definitely feel more comfortable if you are exposed a little more (to high-quality of shots). The defense did a great job, so I have to thank them, I guess.”

The Nordiques were sending a lot of shots at Stejskal, but they weren’t getting second chances.

“Their goaltender saw a lot of rubber, and there were a lot of rebounds, we weren’t there with second waves to collect on those rebounds tonight,” Nordiques associate head coach Cam Robichaud said. “The initial rush was there, but the second-, third-, fourth-wave was not.”

Rochicaud was acting as head coach in place of Nolan Howe, who was serving a one-game suspension after the Nordiques bench was assessed a gross misconduct in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Titans.

Robichaud said that in Tuesday’s game there were too many players standing around the boards and they weren’t screening Stejskal enough.

The Nordiques started slow before Isaiah Fox set up the first goal with about four minutes remaining in the first period. Fox created a turnover at Maine’s offensive blue line then poked the puck between two Knights players. He then drove hard to the net but couldn’t get a clean shot on Stejskal. Fox maintained control of the puck and set up shop behind Stejskal’s net, which drew defenders and left Kevin Pitts wide open in front to home the game’s first goal.

“He was good tonight, he had good pace,” Robichaud said of Fox. “It’s funny, when he has the puck, it’s almost like a yo-yo. No matter if he’s handling it well or he mishandles it, it always ends up back on his stick, back to him or bounce off of him. It’s because he continues moving and driving towards that puck, and he’s getting puck luck — that what happens to those who are working hard.”

Nordiques goalie Connor Androlewciz had a solid start to the second period, making several key saves to keep the Nordiques ahead, 1-0.

Near the halfway point of the period Wilkes-Barre Scranton’s Mike Manzo skated down the right wing and a Nordiques defender forced him to the right half wall right at the goal line. Manzo put an innocent shot on goal that found a small opening between the post and Androlewciz’s blocker to tie the game.

“We told ourselves between the first and second period, throw everything on net and see what happens,” Knights coach Tom Kowal said. “We got a lucky break and a bounce that went in. Sometimes on a good goaltender, you got to get the lucky bounce.”

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton continued gained momentum from its first goal, and 70 seconds later, Anthony Mastromonica stopped at the right circle dot, assessed his options and found a streaking Johnny Kaljian in the slot for a goal that put the Knights up 2-1.

Kowal said the Mastromonica and Kaljian have been developing some nice chemistry over the past month.

Caden Pattison of the Nordiques tried to change the momentum late in the period when he instigated a fight with Liam Haslam. Pattison earned the take down, and both players received five-minute penalties for fighting and  10-minute misconducts.

The Knights’ lead was extended to 3-1 in the third period as Zak Currie drove to the net and was able to beat Androlewciz over the glove.

Androlewciz made 37 saves in the loss.

Before the game, the Nordiques brought in another Holderness School player, forward Tim Manning. He 19-year-old had 20 goals and 31 assists in 29 games last year. The Nordiques are giving him a look for the future as he’s on Thanksgiving break at Holderness and is expected to rejoin his prep team.

Maine looks to salvage a split Wednesday in a rematch at 2 p.m. at the Colisee.


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