Twin City Thunder forward Alex Schneider skates through drills with the team during practice in Auburn on Monday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — Hockey is a small world.

The latest example of that is one of the Twin City Thunder’s new additions in forward Alex Schneider. The 19-year-old from Williamston, Michigan is no stranger to some on the Thunder, as he was once teammates with forward Jeromey Rancourt and goaltender Derek Fournier.

The three played together last season with the Fox Motors U18 Hockey team in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

When things weren’t going as planned for Schneider with the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, he reached out to his former linemate with Fox Motors, in Rancourt, if there was an opportunity available with the Thunder.

“Playing with them last year, I loved playing with them, they are both great guys,” Schneider said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to play with them out here in Maine and try something different.”

Schneider had four goals and six assists in 32 Tier I Elite League games a season ago. In his first taste of junior hockey this fall with the Kings he had no points in three regular-season games after having four assists in three exhibition games. Since joining the Thunder on October 27, he has a goal and an assist in six games.

He has been reunited with Rancourt on the ice as well, with Cody Doyon being the third member of the line.

Rancourt wanted to play with Schneider again.

“We hit it off pretty well at the beginning of (last year) and we were fortunate to be linemates the entire year,” Rancourt said. “Throughout the offseason, I discussed with him on playing with him again sometime. … I told him if he didn’t find a place to come here. Things didn’t work out in the (MJHL) unfortunately, but glad to have him, he’s living with me, it’s great, it’s a lot of fun.”

Coach Doug Friedman knew the prior chemistry between the two could help the Thunder as they try to find scoring depth.

“Talking with Jeromey, when we were talking about Alex initially, he just said: ‘I’ve played with him, I enjoyed playing with him,'” Friedman said. “Again, that’s another piece that this guy could fit for us. It’s the same on defense with Etienne Crousle and Erik Throndson. Two years ago they were (defensive) partners together, played together (at Kents Hill). It’s nice.”

Last year, it was the first time Rancourt and Fournier left home to continue their hockey dreams. They thought the Tier I Elite Hockey League, which some consider to be one of the best Midget AAA leagues in the country, was a good step in between high school hockey and junior hockey.

Fox Motors coach Tim Christian knew Ben Gray, who owns the Thunder as well as the Maine Moose organization, through Ben’s uncle, Joe Clark. He saw both Rancourt and Fournier play at the 2017 Tier II National 18U Tournament in Lansing, Michigan with the Moose.

“It was definitely easier having him out there because I knew Jeromey for years,” Fournier said. “It was definitely nice to have him out there and not be out there alone. It was good to have someone that knows me and a friend, really, to go out there. It was my first time being away from home, I was away from home six, seven months, living with a different family.”

Schneider helped them assimilate to their new surroundings. While he had bounced around different youth and midget organizations throughout Michigan, this year was his first time leaving his home state to continue his hockey dreams.

So Rancourt has been playing the role of ambassador in Schneider’s first few weeks in Lewiston-Auburn.

“Coming into a team blind and not knowing anyone, it’s really tough to reach out and get to know people,” Schneider said. “Having Jeromey as a friend and a linemate from last year, it’s definitely playing a huge part. He’s pretty well known throughout the community here, which is nice because he can reach out to people and I have been meeting new people. It’s nice to meet the community.”

Friedman said others like Rease Hubert, who’s also from Michigan, is the first guy to welcome a new player, and within ten minutes it’s like they have known each other for years.

Both Alex Schneider, left, and Jeromey Rancourt of the Twin City Thunder played previously for the Fox Motors U18 team in Michigan. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Bangor High School graduate Derek Fournier plays goalie for the Twin City Thunder.  (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Former Lewiston High School standout Jeromey Rancourt played for the Fox Motors U18 team before coming to play for the Twin City Thunder. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

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