The Twin City Thunder National Collegiate Development Conference were given affiliation agreements for four USPHL Premier clubs for the upcoming season at the USPHL League meetings last week.

The Thunder will be affiliated with the Metro Jets, the Metro Jets Development Program, the Decatur Blaze and the Springfield Jr. Pics..

“The more opportunities we can provide is better for everybody,” Thunder owner and director of hockey operations Dan Hodge said. “Kids will have more options and opportunities. Obviously, we will have our own Premier League team in house and we will keep very good tabs on them. But we will work with other teams and help those kids too.”

Hodge expects to have players who played for the teams last season at NCDC training camp in August.

The Metro Jets play in the the USPHL’s Premier League, where they finished as the league runners up after going 39-4-1 in the regular season playing in the Great Leagues Division. The Development Program also played in the Great Lakes Division going 27-17-0.

Hodge said the Jets are one of the top Tier III programs in the country. They won the NA3HL Fraser Cup Championship in 2017-18 before making the move to the USPHL for the start of the 2018-19 season. They made the NA3HL Fraser Cup (formerly the Silver Cup until 206-17) three of the four years they were in the NA3HL.

They also won the Central States Hockey League Championship (the predecessor to the NA3HL) in 1989, 2001, and 2002. They also won the Tier III Jr. B National Championship in 2002.

Hodge knows Jets GM Justin Quenneville from the NA3HL days when Hodge owned the Cape Cod Islanders, now known as the Canton Cubs.

“(Justin) and I were on the competition rules committee together and we’ve spent a lot of time together,” Hodge said. “He’s a bright hockey mind and he has a great program. We are honored to be affiliated with those two programs.

The Blaze also play in the Premier League where they went 17-26-1 in the regular season in the Midwest East Division. Springfield finished second in the Premier League’s Northeast Division going 24-17-3.

Hodge doesn’t know much about the Blaze program as the league does assigning of NCDC teams affiliations. Organizations can put requests in on what teams they would like to work with. Hodge is excited to develop a relationship with Decatur.

The Thunder have a good working relationship with the Pics prior to the affiliation agreement as the Thunder signed Pics 18U forward Lukas Skvarek to a tender this spring and drafting 16U forward Daniels Murnieks in the NCDC draft. The Pics requested to be affiliated with the Thunder.

NORDIQUES HOST ANOTHER CAMP

The Maine Nordiques held their second camp of the off-season this past weekend, their open camp in preparation for the 2019-20 season.

The team went down to Bristol, Pennsylvania where the Maine Nordiques Development Program U18 will play the upcoming season before moving to Lewiston for the 2020-21 season.

Eighty players came out as the organization is trying to identify players for the Tier III team, the L/A Nordiques and the U18 team.

“It ends up being a little bit younger, the reason for that is because it was after the (NAHL) draft,” Maine Nordiques Director of Player Advancement and Recruitment Cam Robichaud said. “Tenders have been submitted at that point and typically there are younger guys coming and making an impact for the future. That’s how most open camps are in the league. They definitely serve a purpose in identifying players for the future or the current season for perspective levels within the program.”

Registration picked up after the draft for players who didn’t get drafted. The organization reached out to some players who they were interested in.

The open camp was run a little bit differently than the pre-draft camp that was held over Memorial Day weekend in Portland. The camp in Portland was all games between the 106 players while this past weekend there was a practice thrown in between the regular games and the all-star game that ended the camp on Sunday.

The next time the Nordiques will hit the ice is the 44-man invitational main camp that will be held in Lewiston from July 26-28. The next month the Nordiques will keep an eye on how players do at USHL camps in preparation for the main camp.

The roster will be cut down to 30 for training camp in August. They will have to be down to 25 players by September 1 for the start of the season and then down to 23 by October 1.

SCHEDULES COMING SOON

The Nordiques are finalizing their schedule this week for the upcoming season. The NAHL has a 60-game schedule, including a showcase at the beginning of the season in Blaine, Minnesota where teams play four regular season games. The Nordiques will have 28 home dates and 28 away games, plus the four showcase games.

The NA3HL has a 47-game schedule, including a showcase in December in Blaine which has three games. They will have 22 home and 22 away games.

“We are trying to get a pretty good mix where the NA3HL team is home, the NAHL is on the road and vice-versa,” Robichaud said. “There some doubleheaders (at home) where the NA3HL team will play let’s say a Saturday at 4 p.m. and the NAHL team will play at 7 p.m.”

Robichaud hopes by the end of the week, the other NAHL East Division teams will sign off on the schedule before sending it into the league to get final approval. There’s no set date when the league will officially announce the schedule.

The Nordiques will host the two Alaska teams – Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Kenai River Brown Bears – for two weekends while going to Alaska twice during the season.

Hodge expects the schedules for the USPHL to be released in the next two-three weeks.


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