Twin City Thunder coach Doug Friedman, right, addresses the crowd gathered at the Norway Savings Bank Arena Wednesday night during their open house where fans got to meet players and team officials. From left to right are players from the area; Bailey Riddley, Matt Jolicoeur, and Jeromey Rancourt. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — It’s still August, but the Twin City Thunder’s inaugural season is almost here.
The team announced its schedule at a Town Hall event at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night, and the Thunder open up its first first USPHL campaign at home on Friday, Sept. 14 against the Boston Junior Bruins at 7 p.m.
The team will arrive for training camp on Sunday, Aug. 26 and hit the ice on the 27th.
“We are going to make sure the guys are in good shape and hopefully they come to camp in great shape,” head coach Doug Friedman said. “If they aren’t, they are going to have a hard time and they will be in good shape by the end of it. It’s really about getting to know the players and getting them to start to form their bond and become a team.”
The excitement is already being felt by some of the players as they hope to add to the rich hockey tradition in Lewiston-Auburn.
“As a team we are ready to take on that challenge,” Lewiston native Jeromey Rancourt said. “This community is very rich for hockey, and I think it’s going to be exciting because I think there’s a lot of anxious people excited on what we are going to bring to the table. Hopefully we can give them the hockey they want to see.”
Former Waterville standout Matt Jolicouer is ready to be apart of the L/A hockey community as well.
“Playing here with my Waterville team is (going) to be a lot different than it’s going to be with this team,” Jolicouer said. “They are going to be supporting us and there’s going to be a big crowd cheering us (on).”
The regular season will consist of 44 games. The Thunder will play 16 home games and 16 away games, plus 12 neutral-site games as part of showcase events. Friedman hopes to add six exhibition games sprinkled throughout the year — before and during the season. He hopes most of those games will be at home.
All the home games will be either on Friday or Saturday.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to provide that for the the community,” Friedman said. “If we are fortunate to have the support of the community, for our guys to play in front of a good home crowd on a Friday or Saturday night, it makes it a real cool place and venue to be playing at.”
Friedman said they tried to steer away from Sunday home games so guys can get a rest.
They play fellow New England division opponents — the Junior Bruins, New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, Boston Bandits, Islanders Hockey Club, Northern Cyclones and the South Shore Kings — four times each, twice at home and twice away. The schedule isn’t fully complete, as the details for some showcase games haven’t been released.
“I think it’s always fun to play a bunch of different teams, even if we only play them once or twice,” Friedman said. “It’s also fun to play our closest geographically opponents as well, and build some formidable rivalries with those guys too. I kind of like the fact we have a little bit of both.”
Friedman likes the schedule, as the team won’t leave New England. Friedman expects the furthest the team will travel is three and half hours to Springfield, Massachusetts, to play the Springfield Pics on Oct. 27-28.
The season will end on Sunday, Feb. 10th as the Thunder travels to face the Kings in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Billet families, game day ops help still needed
The Thunder is still looking for host families around Lewiston and Auburn for the upcoming season. Billet families will receive a monthly stipend. The players will need a room of their own, or can share with a team member. They will need a bed, bureau and closet space.
For more information about hosting a player, visit twincitythunder.com/billets, or contact owner Dan Hodge at [email protected]
The team is also looking for anthem singers, scorekeepers, goal judges, and other game day operation duties. If interested contact Bill David, the Director of Sales and Marketing, at [email protected]
Emma Randall, 7, of Lewiston, center patiently waits her turn to have her shirt signed during Wednesday’s open house at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn during the Twin City Thunder’s open house. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Emma Randall, 7, of Lewiston, center, tries to figure out what size t-shirt she wants that Twin City Thunder Director of Marketing and Sales, Bill David, was giving away at Wednesday’s open house at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn during the team’s open house. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)