LEWISTON — The Maine Nordiques gave the North American Hockey League East Division-leading Maryland Black Bears all they could handle.

The Nordiques tied the game three times, but the Black Bears still won 5-4 in a shootout at The Colisee on Friday night. Kareem El Bashir scored the winner in the shootout, which went 10 rounds.

“A kid like El Bashir, a first-year guy, and we were like, why not,” Maryland coach Clint Mylymok said. “He has the skill and is pretty cool under pressure. He just went out there and made the move.”

El Bashir has three goals in 19 games this season.

Friday night was the Nordiques’ annual teddy bear toss game, though it took a while for the fans to get a chance to unload the bears onto the ice.

Maine Nordiques coach Matt Pinchevsky said receiving one point in the standings after a bad first period is important, as Johnstown and Philadelphia are nipping at the Nordiques’ heels for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division.


“A 45-minute effort earned us a point and that’s a good feeling,” Pinchevsky said. “We were left off the point-earning sheet the past two games, so it’s good to get back and earn that point, keep (teams) in our rearview mirror that we got to keep there. This was a winnable hockey game and a very beatable hockey team. We are really excited for (the rematch) tomorrow.”

Sean Kilcullen broke the 3-3 deadlock for the Black Bears 7:30 into the third period as he finished a one-timer attempt from Gunnar VanDamme. Kal Essenmacher recorded the secondary assist.

After the Nordiques (13-10-2, 28 points) called timeout with 15 seconds left in regulation, the Black Bears won the defensive zone faceoff, but the Nordiques regained control of the puck and a Patrick Schmiedlin shot was put on the net and slowly trickled over the goal line with 10 seconds remaining.

“We had leaders on the ice, and I think they just put personnel on the ice,” Pinchevsky said. “We had leaders and they led.”

Captain Brendan Gibbons provided one of the assists for Schmiedlin, a three-year player.

Both teams had chances in the overtime session, but the extra five minutes weren’t enough. Both goalies, Thomas Heaney of the Nordiques and William Hakansson of the Black Bears (22-7-2, 46 points), were on their game in the shootout.


The first two rounds saw no goals, then in the third round, former Twin City Thunder player Samuel Stitz scored for the Black Bears, but Jonny Meiers answered for the Nordiques to extend the shootout.

Stitz said he just used natural instincts to beat Heaney.

“It’s just a feeling when you pick up that puck and you see where the holes are,” Stitz said.

The next 12 shooters missed their attempts. Mylymok jokingly said he wanted to give assistant coach Kim Weiss, a standout during her career at Trinity College, a shot.

“I was running out (of players); I almost wanted to throw Kim on the ice,” Mylymok said. “She was an All-American back in her playing days. Maybe she could have sealed it.”

El Bashir beat Heaney in the top of the 10th. Aidan Coupe missed his attempt to force the 11th round.


Pinchevsky said Heaney did all he could in the shootout.

“Some of the leading scorers went on a breakaway uncontested on Thomas Heaney and they didn’t look like leading scorers,” Pinchevsky said. “Probably really exciting on their bench to see a depth guy get a big goal for them that way. A shootout is not a hockey game; it won them a hockey game, but it’s not a hockey game. We just need to play a full 60 or 65.”

To open the scoring, Hunter Ramos battled through the Nordiques’ defense and on a partial breakaway gave the Black Bears a 1-0 lead midway through the first period.

On the power play, Stitz, who’s committed to Air Force, beat Heaney, giving the Black Bears a 2-0 lead later in the first. Riley Ruh made a cross-ice pass to Stitz and picked up the assist

Nearly eight minutes into the second period, Kim Hilmersson let the teddy bears fly as his shot from the left circle found the back of the net to get the Nordiques on the board. John-Paul Steele and Coupe tallied the assists.

The teddy bears are going to children in need.


Bernardo scored just past the nine-minute mark for his first of two goals to get past Hakansson.

Luke Van Why gave the Black Bears a 3-2 lead as his shot from the left circle hit the crossbar and into the net 14:37 into the middle frame.

“He scored a handful of goals like that where all of sudden there’s Van Why down the middle scoring,” Mylymok said. “Guys like him, Gunnar VanDamme, they can skate and are a threat every time. Guys like them and Bernardo, they are a handful.”

Bernardo potted his second goal by skating into the offensive zone and firing off a shot from the left circle a minute after Van Why’s tally. Gibbons and Kellen Murphy earned the helpers.

The Nordiques look to avoid the sweep Saturday at The Colisee, with a 7 p.m. faceoff.

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