Cannon Green of the Nordiques watches as Isaiah Fox of the Nordiques blocks a pass from Maryland forward Daniel Colabufo. Ron Morin photo

LEWISTON — The Maine Nordiques are one game away from clinching the North American Hockey League’s East Division crown.

Saturday night, the Nordiques put the fourth-seeded Maryland Black Bears on the brink of elimination with a second straight 4-1 win in Game 2 at The Colisee.

Isaiah Fox had a goal and an assist for the Nordiques while goalie Tyriq Outen made 24 saves.

“It obviously feels good, the boys came out strong and it’s always nice to take a lead. The boys stuck with it, kept grinding,” Fox said.

Maryland pushed too little too late in the final period.

“We started hitting a little more,” Black Bears coach Clint Mylymok said. “We are started getting into it and we let (Maine) know it was a series and they can’t be moving pucks for free. Sometimes you have to finish your hits.”

After a scoreless first period, Maine found itself in some penalty trouble early on in the second, with Auburn native Reese Farrell going to the sin bin 20 seconds into the period and Maine commit Tyler Gaulin going to the box just past the five-minute mark.

The Nordiques penalty-killers did their job on both penalties to keep the game scoreless.

Nearly 30 seconds after the Gaulin penalty ended, Fox scored the game’s first goal after receiving a pass from linemate Stefan Owens in the slot and going to the backhand to beat Maryland goalie Michael Morelli 21 (saves) at the 7:32 mark. Cannon Green notched the secondary assist.

“Owens picked up his head, he saw me going to the net driving on the far side, I kept my (space) and tape-to-tape pass, it’s hard to miss that,” Fox said.

Shortly after scoring the goal, Fox went to the box for hitting from behind and Maryland had its best power play of the period, getting a handful of shots on Outen, but he stopped them all.

Nordiques goaltender Tyriq Outen makes the save off the mask on a shot from Daniel Colabufo of Maryland in first period action at the Colisee. Ron Morin photo

Outen thought his defensemen did a good job giving him lanes to see the shots all night.

“Our (defense) did a good job covering the middle (of the ice) and it made it easy for me,” Outen said. “Most of their shots were from the outside, no screens or (anything like that). It was a good job by the boys.”

Maryland was 0-for-4 on the power play and the Nordiques were scoreless on two chances.

Mylymok thought his team did a good job of keeping the Nordiques outside the faceoff circles also.

“Both teams were the same really,” Mylymok said. “Both teams were kind of perimeter and I thought in the third (period) we did a real better job. We had way more desperation and we talked about that before the game. You can’t score in this league or any league unless you have middle of the ice penetration with shots, but we didn’t do it enough until the third.”

Patrick Schmiedlin put the Nordiques on top 2-0 with an innocent-looking shot on net that found a hole through Morelli with five minutes remaining in the second period. Farrell fed Schmiedlin with a pass and recorded an assist.

Nordiques forward Patrick Schmiedlin wrists one past Maryland goaltender Michael Morelli to give Maine the 2-0 lead during second period action. Ron Morin photo

Early in the third period, Maryland forward Luke Mountain picked off a pass in the neutral zone and barreled into the offensive zone all alone but Outen stonewalled him.

Maryland made a late push, scoring with just under three minutes left, with Brad McNeil tipping a Philip Tornqvist point shot to cut the deficit to 2-1.

“They were pressuring really hard, we had a hard time getting (the puck) out (of the defensive zone),” Outen said. “It was a good shot, it hit off a couple of bodies and found its way through.”

Maine responded by adding two empty-net goals in the final two minutes with Sacred Heart commit Aidan Connolly and Green each finding back of the net.

The series now shifts to Odenton, Maryland at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena for Game 3 on Thursday night and if necessary, Game 4 on Friday. Both games are slated for 6:30 p.m.

“You always say you aren’t in trouble until you lose one on home ice,” Mylymok said. “We have two at home now and the difference is our fans are right on top of (the ice), it’s a great energy and atmosphere. There will be no doubt both teams will know they are in the playoff game based on how our fans are in our home rink. We have to use anything we can to get into (the series), but our rink is the difference-maker for us, especially in the playoffs.”


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