Just like Friday night, the Maine Nordiques scored a couple of goals early and needed a late third-period goal to knock off the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks on Saturday.

Aidan Connolly was the hero this time, his goal lifting Maine to a 4-3 victory at Danbury (Connecticut) Ice Arena in a North American Hockey League East Division junior hockey contest.

“We knew coming with a big start today, it would lead to the same result,” Maine Nordiques general manager Eric Soltys said. “Good for Danbury coming back, and good on our group knowing it’s a 60-minute game, managing the puck, managing the clock and finding the right time to strike right before overtime. Those are huge regulation points for us.”

Head coach Nolan Howe wasn’t available to coach Saturday’s game.

Cannon Green scored Friday’s game-winner with 1:19 remaining to give Maine a 3-2 win. The Nordiques didn’t wait quite as long Saturday to break the late 3-3 tie. After a turnover in front of the Danbury crease, Connolly scored with 3:08 remaining in the third period. Jack Strauss and Auburn native Reese Farrell had the assists.

The goal is Connolly’s ninth of the season, and it was an example of one of his strengths this season.

“He has found a way to be a puck possession player,” Soltys said, “where he attains the puck and he can lug it through the neutral zone and gain the offensive zone. He’s been great drawing penalties for us.”

Maine’s (28-13-1, 57 points) offense was once again spearheaded by Stefan Owens, who extended his point streak to four games with a pair goals Saturday. He leads the team with 16 this season.

“(Stefan) has been on a different level here for about the last three weeks,” Soltys said. “He really found his niche as a player in this league and he decided he wanted to be known as an elite player this league. He’s still working for a scholarship here, and someone is going to take a flyer on this kid because he’s a good player. Someone is going to be really fortunate.”

The Hat Tricks (14-15-2, 30 points) jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Luke Wheeler, who recently committed to Bowdoin College, found the back of the net from the slot at the 4:06 mark.

Green set up Owens for his first goal of the game 16 seconds later.

Late in the first period, the teams traded goals again. Tristan Fasig gave the Nordiques a 2-1 lead, scoring his 12th goal off an assist by Ignat Belov. It was Maine’s second breakaway attempt of the first period, as Jackson Vercellono was stopped earlier on a shorthanded chance by Danbury goalie Josh Seeley (35 saves).

“(Fasig) is kind of money right now when he has the puck on his stick on a breakaway,” Soltys said. “He has his spot picked out and we have seen it once or twice on our end of it. It’s almost become a regular thing, when he has this breakaway and (we) almost know he’s going to bury it.”

Danbury quickly tied it up at 2-2 56 seconds later, as Joshua Burke, who earlier assisted on Wheeler’s goal, found the back of the net with 1:53 remaining in the first period. Jason Kleinhans added his second assist of the game and Adam Shuchart picked up the secondary assist.

With 14 seconds remaining in the opening period, Owens put Maine up 3-2. Makem Demers and Cooper Swift had the assists.

After a scoreless second period, Danbury tied the game nearly three minutes into the third when Porter Schachle potted his 13th goal of the season.

Goalie Tyriq Outen made 38 saves for the Nordiques.

The Nordiques will try to finish off a weekend sweep when the two teams meet again Sunday at noon.


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