Maine’s Brendan Gibbons scored 7:29 into overtime to give the visiting Nordiques a 6 – 5 win over the defending NAHL Robertson Cup National Champion Titans to take a commanding 2 – 0 lead in this best-of-five East Division semi-final series.
It was Gibbons’ second goal of the game.
This is the first time in team history that the Titans have lost the first two-games of a series at home. However, during the 2018-19 season, the Red Buckets dropped the first two games of the East Division semi-finals against the then Jamestown Rebels 2 – 0 but came back to win the next three games and win the series.
Anthony Calafiore scored the Titans first goal of the series – a powerplay goal – at 8:50 into the opening period. After Maine’s Sterling Wolters was called for roughing at 8:36 of the first, Calafiore gave the Titans a 1 – 0 lead. Eric Charpentier picked up the loose puck at center ice along the near side boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Michael Young just outside the Nordiques zone. As Young gained the line, he stopped, reversed, and passed the biscuit to Calafiore in the slot and the University of Maine commit took a wrist shot that went bar down and past Maine’s goalie Thomas Heaney to give Calafiore his seventh career playoff goal which ties him with Gavin Gulash with the most goals in Titans playoff history.
With 5:46 remaining in the first, Reece Brednich was called for high sticking to give the Nordiques the man advantage. A little over a minute later, Maine’s Aiden Coupe scored his first of two straight goals when he was left alone in the slot and took a wrist shot that beat Zak Brice through the five hole to even the score.
The Titans reclaimed the lead with 1:37 left in the opening period. Young brought the puck into the offensive zone near the far side boards. As Young went towards the bottom of the faceoff circle he sent a pass back to Calafiore in the slot, and the team captain took a shot that was saved by Heaney, but the rebound came right out to Young, who was to the right of Heaney, and Young slammed the puck into the back of the net to make it a 2 – 1 game.
Calafiore’s goal earlier and his assist on Young’s tally gave him a total of 16 career playoff points which makes him the Titans all-time playoff point leader surpassing Ryan Naumovski.
Brendan Dumas was called for roughing at 1:32 into the middle stanza to put Maine on the powerplay. A minute later, Coupe scored his second goal of the game when he took a one-timer from the far side faceoff circle that beat Brice long side to tie the game at two.
Gibbons first goal of the game gave the Nordiques a 3 – 2 lead when he picked up the rebound on the doorstep and slid the puck through the arm of a fallen Brice at 8:55 into the second.
A minute and thirteen seconds later, Ben Muthersbaugh evened the score at three. Maine’s Nicholas Bernardo brought the puck into neutral zone along the near side boards and made a blind backhanded pass that was intercepted by Muthersbaugh at center ice. Muthersbaugh walked in all alone on Heaney, and as he went towards the net, Muthersbaugh deked around a prone Heaney and backhanded the puck into the back of the net for Muthersbaugh’s first goal of the game.
With twenty-two seconds remaining in the second, Maine’s Henrik Hallberg picked up the loose puck at the top of his own blueline after Sylas Oberting fanned on a shot and Hallberg raced towards the offensive zone and wristed the biscuit that beat Brice short side and down low to give the Nordiques a 4 – 3 lead.
Maine’s Evan Orloff was called for tripping at 1:24 into the third period to give the Titans the man advantage. As time was winding down on the powerplay, Muthersbaugh took a wrist shot from just inside the top of the near side faceoff circle that went through Heaney’s five hole to even the score at four.
Ben Yurchuk scored the Titans third powerplay goal with 7:36 remaining in the third period when he picked up the loose puck after a scramble in front of the Nordiques net and he lifted it up and over a fallen Heaney to give the Titans a 5 – 4 lead.
Hallberg scored his second goal of the contest to tie the game at five with 5:47 left remaining in the third when he took a wrist shot from the far side faceoff circle that beat Brice long side to send it into overtime.
With play inside the Titans zone, Gibbons picked up the loose puck at the far side corner, circled and skated to the slot, and he took a wrist shot that beat Brice long side to win the game and send the series back to Maine.
Brice stopped 21 of 26 shots while Heaney turned aside 33 of 38. Click here for the complete box score.
Game three will be played Thursday night at The Colisee starting at 7:00PM. Should the Titans win that contest, game four will be Friday night at the same time.