Lewiston’s Alex Rivet controls the puck around the back of the net while being chased by Falmouth’s Reece Armitage during the 2017 Class A Championship game at the Colisee in Lewiston. Rivet has signed a tender to play for the Maine Nordiques. Sun Journal file photo

 

LEWISTON — The Maine Nordiques have added some of the Lewiston-Auburn area’s best talent from the past few years for their first season in the North American Hockey League.

On Thursday, defenseman Cole Ouellette and forward Alex Rivet, who both played at Lewiston High School, signed NAHL tenders for the 2019-20 season.

“We felt like we wanted to tender any local talent that has the ability to come into camp and earn a roster spot,” Maine Nordiques director of player recruitment and advancement Cam Robichaud said. “Rivet and Ouellette both received interest from other teams in the league. It would be foolish not to protect them and own their rights within this league, work with them and have them on the 25-man protected list come September 1.”

Ouellette had a mini tryout with the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL earlier this season. The Tomahawks liked what they saw from Ouellette but knew the Nordiques were in the process of getting an NAHL team for next season. The Tomahawks were only going to tender Ouellette if the Nordiques didn’t secure a NAHL franchise.

The benefits of signing Ouellette are two-fold for the organization. It not only bringing in a local talent, but fulfills the requirement of signing a current NA3HL player to a NAHL tender.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Ouellette graduated from Lewiston in 2017 and played for the L/A Nordiques of the NA3HL the past two seasons. During that time, he has been one of the league’s best players and was named the NA3HL’s Defenseman and Rookie of the Year a season ago after recording 18 goals and 41 assists in 45 games played. In the playoffs he had another two goals and three assists. There was no sophomore slump this year as he added 16 goals and 71 assists in 44 games.

“It’s good to play another season in the hometown, especially getting a chance at the North American League” Ouellette said.

Robichaud believes Oullette’s offensive talent can translate from the Tier III to the Tier II level.

“He’s a player that brings some offensive ability. We look for him to have a big summer and put on a little bit of weight, get stronger,” Robichaud said. “There will be definitely a jump in speed and physical play at the next level.”

Rivet, meanwhile, helped the Blue Devils win back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017 and then left Lewiston after his junior year to transfer to Middlesex Prep in Concord, Massachusetts. He spent the past two years there, having repeated his junior year (a common practice for athletes who transfer from a high school to a prep school).

“It was a whole different game, a whole different speed, bigger players, a lot more skill,” Rivet said of making the jump to prep school. “Your game adapts towards that and it rubs off on you. My game grew just playing against those players and surrounding yourself around those guys.”

Robichaud has been keeping an eye on Rivet ever since he was in high school.

“Alex is a player I have known for quite a few years and he actually trains with me in the summer, skates with me, works out with me at my strength and conditioning company, PucDevelopment,” Robichaud said. “He’s someone who has been intriguing to me ever since high school. He possesses a high-level shot and he has great strength. He’s a power forward-esque player at this next level.”

Rivet had 18 goals and 12 assists in 22 games a year ago for Middlesex. This season he added 14 goals and 14 assists in 25 games. He will join the L/A Nordiques for the playoffs, having been added to to the Nordiques’ protected list earlier this season.

“I get to jump into the team culture, and they’ve welcomed me into their family already,” Rivet said of joining the L/A Nordiques. “I came in last Wednesday and I have been practicing every single day. We have a great group of guys and I know we could go far.”

The playoffs are Ouellette’s only focus right now.

“Honestly, my biggest focus right now is finishing the season I have right now with L/A Nordiques at the Tier III level, finishing the playoffs and making a run at the Fraser Cup,” Ouellette said.

Two other tenders

The team has also signed defenseman Derek Hessinger and forward Manny Sanchez to tenders this week. The tender count is up to five as the Nordiques announced Connor Androlewicz as its first tender on Monday

The 6-foot, 150-pound Hessinger has played the past four seasons with Shattuck St. Mary’s, a prep school in Fairbault, Minnesota, that has produced NHLers such as Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Towes. New York Islanders 2018 first round pick Oliver Wahlstrom, who grew up in Falmouth, also attended Shattuck St. Mary’s before moving to the U.S. National Team Program and Boston College, where he’s a freshman this season.

With Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep team this year, Hessinger, a Chesterfield, New Jersey, native has two goals and 23 assists in 48 games this season.

“He’s a kid that has high character, he does everything the right way on the ice, off the ice,” Robichaud said. “He’s a great person and a high-level athlete.”

Sanchez has familiarity with the organization as his older brother is L/A Nordiques forward Joshua Sanchez. Manny was also a sixth-round draft pick of the L/A Nordiques in last spring’s NA3HL Draft.

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound, 17-year-old Sanchez has spent the past three years with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs organization. With the Monarchs 18U team he had 13 goals and 31 assists in 27 USPHL 18U games. In Tier I Elite League play, he added 19 goals and 18 assists in 29 games. He also suited up in one game for the Monarchs USPHL NCDC Tier II team, recording no points.

“He was a player that was able to produce at a high level in the Tier I Elite League,” Robichaud said. “We decided to tender him because we want to see if that game will translate at the North American level. He’s young, he’s on the smaller side, but his skating is strong, his edge work is strong.”


Comments are not available on this story.