LEWISTON — Puck drop for the upcoming North American 3 Eastern Hockey League regular season is still more than three months away, but fans of the Lewiston/Auburn Fighting Spirit now know what it entails. 

The L/A area’s newest junior hockey program unveiled its 2015-16 regular-season schedule, as well as preseason festivities during a news conference at Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Tuesday.

The Fighting Spirit will open their inaugural season in the Twin Cities on the road at the East Coast Minutemen on Sept. 13. Their home opener is two weeks later, against the Northeast Generals, one of three newcomers to the 13-team league, on Sept. 26. 

“Schedules are always an exciting time, but it’s a bit nerve-wracking, too, to make sure you have the proper events for your community, but it’s exciting,” Fighting Spirit coach Rod Simmons said. “It’s always a point where you say, ‘Here we go.’ When you get the schedule, it’s like, ‘Here we go for next year.’ ” 

The regular-season schedule consists of 44 games, 20 of which will take place at the Colisee. Promotional events are planned for home games over the course of the season, beginning with home-opener weekend Sept. 26-27. Other notable promotions include Dempsey Challenge Night on Oct. 17 to raise money for cancer research, Veterans and Military Appreciation weekend Nov. 13-14, Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 13 and Hockey Day in L/A on Jan. 16. 

With the addition of the Northeast Generals, New York Aviators and Skyland Kings, the league has expanded to 13 teams. However, fans won’t see more than five opponents during the regular season. All 20 home games are against East Division foes — the Northeast Generals, the East Coast Minutemen, the Maine Wild (of Biddeford), the New England Stars and the Cape Cod Islanders. 


“A lot of division,” Simmons said. “I wanted to do more travel and have teams like Lockport. That was my thing with the league. I’m a team that wants to travel. I’d like to get other teams in here for the people to be able to see, but I’m only one voting member. That’s why progression is important.” 

All but six of the 44 games are against division opponents. The Fighting Spirit won’t see anyone from the West outside of the two showcases. The Eastern Showcase is where they will get a crack at the Jersey Shore Wildcats, the defending champion who knocked off L/A in the finals. 

But before any of that, the Fighting Spirit have a slate of preseason activities geared toward community involvement, beginning with a meet and greet with the team at Gridiron Restaurant on Thursday at 7 p.m. 

Players report for training camp Aug. 17, leading into a weekend-long event, dubbed “Spirit Weekend,” beginning Aug. 28 as the Fighting Spirit host an exhibition game at the Colisee at 7 p.m. against a team yet to be determined. Simmons said the opponent may be a Canadian team. 

The following day is filled with events, the first being a 3-on-3 street hockey tournament. Also on the docket is a “Coach’s Cook Off” event, with the best wing sauce getting its place on Gridirons’ menu. The day concludes with “Battle of the Bands.” Simmons said the winning band will be tasked with composing the Fighting Spirits’ entrance song. 

The weekend concludes with the Fighting Spirit Golf Tournament at Turner Highlands Golf Course. Registration for the golf tournament begins Monday. Tee time is 9 a.m. 


“When I coached in Canada, we always had that,” Simmons said. “The Battle of the Bands is something I utilized up there. The golf tournament — everybody up there plays golf — so it was great. Putting it together comes from (team skating specialist) Lisa (Simmons) and boosters having conversations. I put my two cents in, but ultimately they’re the ones that pull that off. A lot of what we’ve done in the past is what was done here already. It’s easy for us.” 

The proceeds from the street hockey tournament will benefit the L/A Jr. Fighting Spirit youth hockey organization, which replaces the Jr. Pirates. The Jr. Fighting Spirit is a non-profit organization and is sanctioned by the Maine Amateur Hockey Association. 

Brett Barrett, who’s been part of the youth hockey program at the Colisee for the past three years, will serve as the youth hockey director for the Jr. Fighting Spirit. 

The Jr. Fighting Spirit offers opportunities for youth playing in Tier II, Tier III and Tier IV programs. The Tier IV development program consists of Mite, Squirt, PeeWee and Girls U14. Tier III programs include Bantam, Squirt and PeeWee, while the Tier II program focuses on Bantam. 

“Basically just helping any kid who wants to be a part of us or any young man or young lady who wants to learn,” Simmons said. “We just want to help kids. Whether it’s a Tier II program or Tier IV program, our players, our coaches are going to be there to volunteer the time. We just want to build it and we want more kids playing the game so eventually we can have possibly more kids playing here on the Spirit.” 

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