LEWISTON — The Maine Nordiques opened their biggest series so far this season with a loss.

The New Jersey Titans defeated the Nordiques 5-3 in an NAHL East Division contest at The Colisee on Friday. The Titans (32-17-3, 67 points) now have a two-point advantage over the Nordiques (31-18-3, 65 points) for second place in the division.

“For us, this is a microcosm of where we want to go,” New Jersey coach Craig Doremus said. “We want to value these games as a learning experience for our group going forward. We have some guys in the room who competed on the biggest stages. Nevertheless, they haven’t been graded this year. We are trying to reteach the group and go through the growing pains collectively.”

The Titans are the defending NAHL Robertson Cup champions.

Maine Nordiques coach Matt Pinchevsky said that despite the loss he liked the way the Nordiques battled.

“Our boys remained resilient, they had resolve, and they had restraint when things weren’t going their way,” Pinchevsky said. “They found a way to keep knocking back and take a lead in the second period. … I felt we would have a different outcome; not in the direction it went in.”


Brendan Dumas sent a pass from behind the Nordiques’ net to Michael Young in the slot, and from there Young fired a shot past Maine goalie Thomas Heaney to set the Titans up with a 1-0 lead with 11:33 remaining in the first period.

Sylas Oberting also had an assist on the goal.

Heaney made a pad save with his right leg with 30 seconds remaining in the first to keep the deficit 1-0. The Nordiques transitioned to the offensive zone, and Laurent Trepanier found the loose puck in the slot and scored to even the game at 1-1 with 19 seconds remaining in the period.

“Laurent Trepanier has never scored a goal more than a stick-length away from the net,” Pinchevsky said. “He goes where he knows to go and he buried it.”

Pinchevsky also lauded defenseman Nicholas Bernardo and forward Jonny Meiers for setting up Trepanier’s goal.

Maine carried momentum from that goal into the second period, and, on a partial breakaway, forward Aidan Coupe slid the puck past Titans goalie Zakari Brice’s (23 saves) left pad with 17:14 remaining in the middle frame.


The Nordiques’ 2-1 lead didn’t last long because about 90 seconds later, a Joe Harney slapshot beat Heaney.

“What we have learned this year through trials and tribulations is it’s not a perfect game — it’s not going to be played perfectly,” Doremus said. “Sometimes it’s more about how you control your response to actually what happens.”

Brice made a point-blank save later in the second period on what looked to be a sure Maine Nordiques goal. The save had the whole building surprised, including the game-day operations crew, who turned The Colisee’s lights off to start a Nordiques goal celebration.

“Zack is the next in a long line of good goaltenders we have had here in New Jersey,” Doremus said. “He’s learning what it takes to be a big-time player in this league.”

Tony Achille got loose on a breakaway for the Nordiques early in the third period, but, once again, Brice came up big for the Titans.

Tyler Sanborn gave New Jersey a 3-2 lead when his blast beat Heaney (27 saves) with 14:46 remaining in the third. Sang notched his second helper of the game.


The Titans’ lead only lasted for a few minutes. Maine forward Kim Hilmersson tried to send a pass from behind the net to the slot; it was off target, but the puck deflected off of Brice’s left leg and into the goal, tying the game 3-3 with 12:31 left in the game.

New Jersey began going to the front of the net and was rewarded. Anthony Calafiore scored to give the Titans the lead for good, and Eric Charpentier added an insurance marker 32 seconds later, making it 5-3 with 3:46 remaining.

“Once we got the two-goal lead, everybody was a little more comfortable,” Charpentier said. “It makes it easier to do the little things because you don’t have to worry about scoring anymore. You just have to gain the (red) line, defend well, and play simple.

The Nordiques pulled Heaney with under two minutes to go but couldn’t get any grade-A scoring chances. The team’s first power play came in the dying seconds of the game.

The teams meet again in Lewiston on Saturday at 7 p.m. to wrap up the weekend series.

“It’s going to be a really good series; you can’t be ready to play, you have to be ready to win,” Pinchevsky said. “I think (the Titans) were ready to win tonight.”

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