LEWISTON — The Maryland Black Bears weren’t letting the NAHL East Division final go to a decisive Game 5.

Saturday, the Black Bears defeated the Maine Nordiques 8-4 in Game 4 at The Colisee to capture the East Division crown and head to the Robertson Cup tournament in Blaine, Minnesota, to represent the East Division against the Central, Midwest and South Division champions.

“We have talked about it the whole season,” Maryland forward Gabriel Wrestling, who had a goal and an assist, said. “Our goal the first day has been the (Robertson Cup). We have really good guys here, so it’s good.”

Maine Nordiques coach Matt Pinchevsky said the Nordiques skipped some details early on in the game.

“Just making sure we took ownership of the Grade-A (area), and no free sticks, and not being able to establish that net-front presence, Pinchevsky said.

The Black Bears started quickly in the first period when Adam Schankula scored 2:36 into the first period, beating Nordiques goalie Kael DePape.


Laurent Trepanier responded for the Nordiques 6:44 into the first period. Hunter Fetterolf had the assist.

Maryland never looked back from that point. Just 13 seconds later, Riley Ruh gave the Black Bears a 2-1 lead.

Kareem El Bashir then gave Maryland a 3-1 advantage at the 7:20 mark, 23 seconds after Ruh’s tally.

Ruh and El Bashir are role players but can come up in big moments. El Bashir had a game-winning goal in the shootout in a 5-4 win against the Nordiques on Dec. 16.

“I think there were comments made about our role players winning in a shootout,” Maryland coach Clint Mylymok said. “Those guys put the dagger in them today and I think that’s poetic justice, if you ask me.”

The backbreaker came in the final seconds of the first period when Branden Piku scored a power-play tally with one second remaining in the stanza. Sean Kilcullen had an assist, while Brad McNeil recorded his second assist of the period.


Maryland carried the momentum from the 5-4 loss in Game 3 on Friday night, where the Black Bears outscored the Nordiques 3-1 in the third period.

“That’s what we talked about last night — bring that third period to the first period,” Mylymok said. “The good thing was to have an early game — it was a quick turnaround, sleep, get up and play and maybe build off that momentum. The right guys stepped and that goal with 0.5 seconds left was killer late.”

Pinchevsksy didn’t think about pulling DePape for Thomas Heaney at any point of the game to change momentum and try to force a Game 5, which would have been on Sunday.

“We win, you play again,” Pinchevsky said. “This was that game. We could have done a better job in front of (DePape) to win again to get on the bus and go down there (to Maryland) to win again (Sunday).”

Fetterolf scored his second goal of the weekend when he fired a close-range shot past Maryland goalie William Hakansson just past the eight-minute mark of the second period.

Wrestling scored eight minutes later, giving Maryland a 5-2 lead.


“I was relieved — that was a very important goal for us,” Wrestling said. “It gave us a (bigger) lead than we had.”

Piku and Hunter Ramos scored in the third period for the Black Bears.

Kim Hilmersson, who assisted on Fetterolf’s tally in the second, slipped the puck past Hakansson (27 saves) on the backhand for Maine’s third goal, which came 15 minutes into the third period.

“I don’t know if people have said this before, but playoff hockey is fourth-line hockey,” Pinchevsky said. “We had the better fourth line tonight.”

Aidan Coupe deflected a Brendan Gibbons shot to cut the deficit to three with about two minutes remaining. The Nordiques pulled DePape (27 saves) before the goal.

Gunnar VanDamme then scored an empty-netter to cap the scoring.

Pinchevsky said the season was a success despite not reaching the Robertson Cup tournament.

“We moved some guys onto schools and that’s their goal,” Pinchevsky said. “I think they will have something that they will be able to cherish and respect, be grateful for the rest of their life.”

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