Nolan Howe has been named the first head coach of the Maine Nordiques of the NAHL. Submitted photo

In 2011, Nolan Howe was at a crossroads.

He wanted to turn his passion for coaching hockey into a career at a high level. During that time, he was at a camp where he was the right-hand man for current University of Maine men’s head coach Dennis “Red” Gendron.

After six years as a head coach with the ISS Kings — which will now be known as the Maine Nordiques Development Program — Howe, who is the director of hockey operations for the North American Hockey League’s Maine Nordiques, has reached his goal as the Lewiston organization’s first head coach.

He learned a lot in that week with Gendron.

“For me, it was so inspiring, his professionalism, the way he really cared about the children. Some of the things he talked about had nothing to do with on the ice, it was all about their character and their work ethic,” Howe said. “It just really hit home for me. I knew this is what I wanted to do my whole life.

“Growing up in the family that I did, I was fortunate to be around professional hockey players my entire life. My aspirations, passion (and) love of the game grew from a very young age — I was able to see guys at the highest level and why they were able to have success. It was really because of the things Red hit on.”

Howe’s last name is familiar to anyone who knows even a little bit about hockey. He is the grandson of Gordie Howe and the son of Mark Howe.

Gordie played 26 seasons of professional hockey, 20 in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and Hartford Whalers. He also played six seasons in the old World Hockey Association with the Houston Aeros and the New England Whalers. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. Mark, played 22 years of professional hockey, 16 in the NHL with the Whalers, Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Howe’s uncle Marty Howe also had a long career in the NHL, AHL and WHA, including the 1982-83 season with the Boston Bruins.

Howe wanted to make sure as the director of hockey operations that he put a staff in place for the organization before announcing himself as the head coach of the NAHL team. Joining him on the bench is Cam Robichaud, who is the current head coach of the organization’s NA3HL team, the L/A Nordiques. Robichaud will serve as an associate head coach in addition to his duties as the organization’s director of player recruitment and advancement.

“It’s always kind of a goal of mine personally, just like the players, I am looking to develop and move up,” Robichaud said. “I think I have been working in junior hockey and at the Tier III level the past eight years now. I am eager and hungry for that challenge at the next level.”

In a short time knowing Robichaud, Howe has seen what type of coach he is and believes Robichaud’s style can translate to the next level.

“What I think Cam has proven over the last several years is not only does he have an elite hockey mind, but he has an unflappable work ethic,” Howe said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of adversity is thrown his way or what type of challenge is presented to him, he’s always done his best, to be the best.”

Matthew Pinchevsky, who was announced last week as the director of player development and wellness, will also be an assistant coach for the NAHL team.

The goaltender coach will be Brendan Sullivan, who’s currently the goalie coach of the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL. Prior to working with the Monarchs, he worked with Pittsburgh Penguins as their development coach for goalies during the 2017-18 season. He also has experience coaching at the USHL level.

As for the L/A Nordiques, Chris Pomerleau, who’s currently an assistant coach, will be elevated to head coach and director of the L/A Nordiques Youth program. Prior to joining the Nordiques, Pomerleau was an assistant coach at Lewiston High School. Eric Michaud will be the team’s associated head coach and the organizations video coordinator. John Racine, who currently works with the goaltenders, will be an assistant coach and will help Sullivan with the goaltenders in the organization.

Howe also has brought on three advisers who currently have jobs in the NHL.

His father Mark, who’s currently the director of professional scouting for the Detroit Red Wings, will be the head organization adviser for the Nordiques organization.

Eric Soltys, currently a scout for the Calgary Flames, will be the director of scouting for the Nordiques. He was an assistant coach for the University of Maine during the 2004-05 season and had two stints with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL from 2005-2007 as an assistant coach and scout. He was a scout from 2009-2013 before being hired by the Flames.

Finally, Vince Williams, a pro scout for the Las Vegas Golden Knights, will be a coaching adviser and organizational skill instructor.

 

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