LEWISTON — With a playoff spot locked up, the Maine Nordiques used Saturday to tinker with the lineup and add Maine Nordiques Academy players and other call-ups in the regular-season finale against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks.
The present and the future of the Nordiques played a part in a 3-2 overtime win at The Colisee in a North American Hockey League contest.
Cannon Green, a two-year forward playing in his final year of junior hockey, scored the game-winner with less than a minute remaining in overtime as he slid the puck past Danbury goalie Josh Seeley after receiving a pass from linemate Stefan Owens.
“That moment right there after scoring was one of the best moments I had in this rink,” Green said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out.”
Green’s teammates mobbed him in the corner after he scored the game-winner.
Ansel “Gus” Holt made his NAHL debut in goal and the Army commit made 42 saves for the Nordiques. He has spent the season with the Maine Nordiques Academy 18U team, which just wrapped up its season last week at the USA Hockey 18U nationals, and has signed a tender for next season with the Nordiques.
“It felt really good. The boys helped me settle in early by keeping the shots from the outside (of the faceoff circles), and let me control them in tight,” Holt said. “If I had any mistakes, (my teammates) cleaned them up in the slot.”
Maine trotted out an all-Maine Nordiques Academy starting lineup. Cannon Green’s brother Zion, Jack Kurrle and Miles Harrington were the forwards and Kadsen Johnson and Easton Zeuger started at defense.
Forwards Donte Pierre, Ty Matthews and Connor Wood, who have played less than 23 games this season, were also in the lineup.
“We had a lot of guys that got different opportunities today,” Maine Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said. “Up and down the lineup, the guys just worked and it was a lot of fun to see.”
The Nordiques jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Hat Tricks miscue when Seeley went behind his net to play the puck and he whipped it around the boards. Seeley tried to get back to the crease but lost his balance. Nordiques defenseman Shaun McEwen, a call-up from the Seacoast Performance Academy, shot the puck from the blue line into a half-open net at the 3:24 mark. The assists went to Ignat Belov and Tristan Fasig.
The 17-year-old McEwen is a University of Massachusetts commit.
Hat Tricks acting coach Matt Voity said despite giving up the first goal, he liked the start by his team.
“I think today, as opposed to yesterday, we came out a lot more ready to play,” Voity said. “We stuck to our structure, we got pucks deep (in the offense zone); it helped us get those two goals and stay in the game.”
Holt was stellar in the first period for the Nordiques in goal. He made eight saves, including two Danbury shorthanded breakaways.
“My goal was to keep that game 1-0 and (my teammates) were playing hard for me,” Holt said. “I wanted to make a couple of big saves for them.”
Maine extended the lead early in the second period when Belov skated down the left side of the ice and cut to the goal when he got to the faceoff dot. He beat Seeley with a shot just before the two-minute mark. Owens and Tyler Gaulin had the assists.
It was Belov’s fourth goal of the season.
Danbury scored in the final two minutes of the second period. The puck was sent from behind the net and deflected into the Nordiques crease and went in between Holt’s feet and he didn’t realize it. Hat Tricks forward Porter Schachle poked the puck behind the goal line for his 17th goal of the season.
On Danbury’s second power play of the game, Joshua Burke ripped a one-timer from the right circle with a little over five minutes remaining in the third period. Bowdoin College commit Luke Wheeler fed Burke with the pass. Ben Biester notched his second assist of the game on the play.
The NAHL regular season wraps up next weekend, so it will be a few weeks until the Nordiques playoff run begins either against the New Jersey Titans or Maryland Black Bears. A schedule hasn’t been announced.
“At the end of the day, it is what it is,” Howe said of having next weekend off. “We have some guys nicked up, so honestly, it’s good to get them back healthy and get some practice time for whoever we end up facing.”