LEWISTON — If you plan on going to the Lewiston/Auburn Fighting Spirit’s “Valentine’s Sweetheart Game” on Sunday against the East Coast Minutemen, and if you’ve followed the team all season, chances are seeing the team will almost be like going on a blind date .

At the end of January, the team let go of five players: Cam DuFault, Nick Hudson, Ryan MacIntosh, Simon Corriveau and Tyler Sheridan. They also brought in six new faces and one old face with ties to the central Maine hockey community.

Fighting Spirit owner and head coach Rod Simmons doesn’t normally like to make this many transactions during the season, but said he had to do what was best for the team.

“It’s not normally how I do things, but I also have a responsibility in the sense of conduct of that was becoming of our team,” Simmons said. “If I have some guys that I don’t feel that are representing the proper conduct, we have to make adjustments.”

The team will have to replace the offensive production of Corriveau (12 goals, 11 assists in 27 games) and Hudson (6 goals, 5 assists). McNaulty and DuFault provided offense on the blue line with 18 and 12 points respectively. Sheridan was another defenseman, and MacIntosh was only used in emergency situations as he’s a member of the Massachusetts National Guard. He appeared in nine games.

The team brought in four new forwards: Liam McGrath, Kyle Secor, Casey LaBonte and Austin Davis. Three defensemen have joined the team, as well: Thomas Puetz, Clay Janowiak and Linder Kenyon.

“The guys we brought in are good for the locker room,” Simmons said. “They are definitely good skill-wise. It’s a situation, not only skill-wise, but chemistry is everything. The locker room has to be right. I think the additions we brought in are definitely a positive compared where we were at.”

Davis will be the third player on the current roster from Maine, joining goaltender Marcus Mitchell (York) and defenseman Joseph Mooney (Kennebunk). Davis is from Augusta. He played for the Cony/Monmouth Rams from 2010-14 before joining the Texas Jr. Brahmas of the North American 3 Hockey League, the sister league of the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League in which the Fighting Spirit play. This year he has spent time with the Cheyenne Stampede of the Western States Hockey League with fellow newcomer Thomas Puetz. Davis had two goals and six assists in 38 games. He has a goal and an assist since joining the Spirit.

Davis met with the Fighting Spirit coaching staff just before the New Year.

“It was around Christmas break, I came in talked to (Rod) when I was home visiting family,” Davis said. “I liked the environment they have here and it was a little bit better than back out West, so I decided to come here to finish my last year of junior hockey.”

Davis said he has a lot of memories of playing in the Colisee, including when Cony made the 2012 Eastern Class A semifinals. They lost to Lewiston, 9-0. He also remembers winning a Midget state championships with the Maine Moose program, and he hopes to make a few more memories with the Fighting Spirit.

Puetz has had the most success in his brief stint with the Spirit. A defenseman, he has four goals and three helpers in five games. He had three goals and eight assists with the Stampede in 22 games. 

McGrath, one of three players who joined the team from Daytona Racers of the United States Premier 3 Hockey League, will out the rest of the season due to injury, though he had three goals and three assists in 10 games after joining the Fighting Spirit.

Secor put up five goals and 17 assists with the Racers in 25 games, and recorded a hat trick last Friday night for L/A. He has five points in nine games with the Fighting Spirit. Janowiak is a defenseman who put up five goals and 10 assists with the Racers. He has two assist in eight games so far.

Secor, who has lived in Florida since he was 11, headed north because the NA3EHL will challenge him more.

“I had an offer to play at a higher level, so I took it,” said Secor, who is originally from Ohio. “I thought it would be a good experience for me.”

Simmons is especially excited of Secor, who just turned 18 and has three years left of junior hockey eligibility. The others either are in their final year of eligibility or have one year remaining.

LaBonte, a forward, comes from the Aspen Leafs of the Rocky Mountain Jr. Hockey League where he had four goals and nine assists with the Leafs while adding a goal and an assist in four games with the Fighting Spirit.

Linder Kenyon will be joining his third organization of the season. He split time with the Philadelphia Little Flyers and the Philadelphia Revolution of the Eastern Hockey League, where he had one goal and four assists in 17 EHL games. He has one assist in four games with L/A.

The Fighting Spirit have nine regular season games remaining on their schedule. They have already secured one of four divisional playoff spots, along with the Cape Cod Islanders, New England Stars and the Skylands Kings in the Eastern Division.

Cape Cod will likely be the No 1. seed, boasting a 30-5-2 record and 62 points, 10 ahead of the Stars, who are in second with a 25-8-2 record (52 points). The Fighting Spirit are one point behind the Stars with a 25-9-1 record (51 points). Skylands, which has 11 games left, is all but locked in as the No. 4 seed with a 16-17-0 record (32 points). The Stars and the Fighting Spirit just need to get over the 54 point plateau to lock themselves no lower than the No. 3 seed.

Simmons considers every game going forward a playoff game.

“The two seed would give us home-ice advantage, which we would like for the fans,” Simmons said. “We would like to be here, obviously. Right now, it’s more of getting in playoff mode. Being able to finish a whole 60 minutes of a game, getting all the new guys to know one and another, getting them all to meld (together).”

The NA3EHL announced earlier this week that each round of the playoffs — the divisional semifinals, divisional finals and NA3EHL Championship will all be best-of-three series’ with the higher seeds hosting all three games in the semifinals (March 10-13) and final (March 17-20). The Championship (March 24-27) will take the East Division champion and the West Division champion, and will be played a a neutral site that has yet to be determined. Last year, the final was played at the Colisee in Lewiston.


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