Former Bangor High School goalie Derek Fournier is one of three goaltenders in the Twin City Thunder training camp. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — The Twin City Thunder are the new kids on the block in the New England Division of the United States Premier Hockey League’s Premier League.

When they open up their inaugural season Friday at the Norway Savings Bank Arena at 7 p.m., they will be facing one of the top junior organizations not only in New England but on the east coast in the Boston Junior Bruins.

Thunder coach Doug Friedman said he isn’t looking at the opening weekend as a measuring stick for where the expansion squad stacks up against one of the league’s best programs.

“Our approach is going to be these are our first two games of the season for us,” Friedman said. “It’s not who we are playing, we are just going to play our game. We can only control what we can control. It’s our first two games, and every game we play I suspect will be a tough game.”

The teams will meet again Saturday afternoon in the Jr. Bruins home opener.


The Junior Bruins, who are based out of the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts, have won multiple championships at different levels of junior hockey. They won the USPHL Premier Division championship in 2014, back when it was the organization’s top league, prior to the creation of the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) at the start of the 2017-18 season.

The Junior Bruins capped off the 2013-14 season with the USA Hockey’s Tier III Junior “A” National Championship, defeating the North Iowa Bulls of the NA3HL in the final.

The following season the Junior Bruins won the USPHL’s Elite Division title.

Before the creation of the USPHL in the 2013-14 season, the they won the Eastern Junior Hockey League championship in 2005, and their Junior B team won three consecutive Empire Junior Hockey League championship, from 2007-2009.

Junior Bruins alumni include Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, who played with the Bruins’ Empire Junior team from 2010-2012 before moving to the U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) in Michigan and then Boston University to finish his amateur hockey career, after which he was selected second overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Former Boston Bruin Frank Vatrano played for the Junior Bruins before going to the NTDP and UMass-Amherst and then signing with the NHL Bruins after his sophomore season in 2015.

Bobby Butler, who played on the USA Olympic team in 2018, helped lead that Junior Bruins team to the EJHL Title in 2005. He later played at the University of New Hampshire from 2006-2010 before a pro career that included stints with the New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators of the NHL. He retired this offseason and has joined the Junior Bruins organization as the director of player personnel.


Steve Moses, a 2006 Lewiston Maineiacs draft pick, played three years with the Junior Bruins before playing at UNH from 2008-2012. He has since bounced around the AHL and European Leagues.

The Thunder have one former Junior Bruin on their roster in defenseman Nick Malik, who played for their 16U and 18U teams the past four seasons.

“The Bruins program is a really good program,” Malik said. “They develop well with their kids and they spend a lot of time with their players. My time there was awesome and I loved it.”

He hopes to use his experience with the Junior Bruins to help the Thunder. He said the players on the Juinor Bruins midget teams were all hungry to get called up to one of the junior teams.

“Coming from a well-established program, it’s good to come down here and be able to join a new expansion team,” Malik said. “Bring a little bit of that Bruins organization to them, as well. I am here to work hard and bring that to the (Thunder) organization.”



The Thunder added to their defensive group last week with the signing of Étienne Crouslé of Laval, Quebec. He spent the previous two seasons with Friedman at Kents Hill. Last season he had three goals and 17 assists in 28 games.

He became available after not making the Northern Cyclones’ NCDC team.

“He’s an all-around solid defenseman,” Friedman said. “He makes good reads, he can make good plays and he’s solid defensively. He will be good on the power play, he can play in any situation.”


Lewiston native Jeromey Rancourt won’t be in the lineup Friday or the next four to six weeks due to a leg injury.

“It’s very disappointing. I know he’s a tough kid and he’s going to stay positive,” Friedman said. “He’s going to be working hard so as soon as he’s cleared to join the team in the lineup, he’s going to. He’s going to bring a lot of good stuff to the team when we can get him healthy.”


Defenseman Erik Throndson is also suffering from a leg injur,y while goalie Jaxon Friedman is battling a hand injury.


The L/A Nordiques added forward depth before their season-opener with the signing of Mike Keller of Batavia, New York.

The 18-year old, who coach Cam Robichaud had been courting throughout the summer, comes to Lewiston after not making the Syracuse Stars NCDC team.

With the Southern Tier Express of the NA3HL last season, Keller had nine goals and 11 assists in 47 games.

The Noridiques open their season against the New England Stars on Saturday, then face the Cape Islanders on Sunday. L/A plays its first home game Friday, Sept. 28, against the Northeast Generals.

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