The 2019-20 is a clean slate for Jeromey Rancourt as he embarks on his final junior hockey season in hopes to secure a college commitment for the 2020-21 season.

Lewiston native Jeromey Rancourt during a Twin City Thunder practice Wednesday at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. RAM Sports photography

The Twin City Thunder announced the Lewiston native as the organization’s first official signing in the spring of 2018. This year is slightly different, though, because Rancourt’s spot in the organization has yet to be determined — whether he will be skating with the Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) team or starting the season with the Tier III Premier League team, for which he was the second-leading scorer in the regular season in 2018-19 with 16 goals and 26 assists.

Rancourt, a forward, also hopes to have a full season in 2019-20 after missing the start to last year and some playoff games due to various injuries.

The season unofficially kicks off this weekend when the Thunder participate in the USPHL’s Summer Showcase on Friday and Saturday at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Twin City will have two teams skating in the NCDC division.

Each team, “Thunder Green” and “Thunder Black,” will play one game Friday and two on Saturday.

“Nothing is given. Everything you do, you got to earn for it every time you step on the ice,” Rancourt said. “I am trying to help my odds by playing well this weekend, to have coaches, ownership to have (me) in the back of their minds when tryouts come at the main camp (in August).”

Rancourt said he has been in the gym every day this summer working on his conditioning, and has been playing in some men’s league games and skating on his own when possible.

The Thunder coaching staff looking for in their 20-year-olds to step up this weekend.

“We are looking for them to stand out,” Twin City NCDC coach Doug Friedman said. “Again, that’s the biggest thing, we are looking for them to stand out; by that, I mean, in all facets of the game: their compete level, their leadership, their overall play. That’s what you generally you look for in your top guys.”

By the end of last season, Rancourt was a captain for the Thunder.

As a 20-year-old, he knows spots are limited for “over-agers,” as the USPHL only allows six such players in the lineup for regular season games. Teams can have as many 20-year-olds as they want, but only six can be in the game-day lineup.

“Our spots as age-out guys, there’s not many of us that have a lot of wiggle room,” Rancourt said. “So if we aren’t cutting it and if (the team) has a guy from another league that they want to bring in, that can be your spot out the door.”

Friedman said the team is also making as much of a commitment to the players as the players are making to the team.

“We as a program make commitments to players,” Friedman said. “For a ’99 birth year (player), the benefit for them is to learn, prepare, focus for each day, each game and each practice, for that matter.

“This is a college developmental league, as are all the junior leagues. Part of our development process is working with these guys to get these guys to handle that and perform consistently.”

The focus this weekend for Rancourt is to shake off some rust.

“I am just looking to have a good weekend to get the feel for the game back,” Rancourt said. “It’s been a little bit since most of us had played competitive hockey, most likely all summer. I am just looking forward to see some of the guys that were on the team last year.”

Friedman said the rosters will have a mix of tendered players, returners and players the Thunder are bringing in for a look ahead of the main camp that will take place in the middle of August.

KERESZTES COMMITS

The Twin City Thunder have received a commitment from NCDC draft pick Levente Keresztes. The 6-foot-5, 176-pound 17-year-old forward from Budapest, Hungary, played for the MAC Budapest organization the past three seasons.

With the U18 team last year, he had 32 goals and 62 assists for 94 points in 32 games. He appeared in 12 games with the U20 team and tallied six goals and seven assists. He also represented Hungary at the international level with the country’s U17 and U18 teams.

“He’s still filling out,” Friedman said. “He’s a very offensive player and he put up pretty big numbers in the league he played in over there. It’s not going to be new for him going up against older guys. He’s highly recommended from one of our coaches over (in Europe) that we are friendly with. We are really excited about him coming over and showing us what he can do.”

Friedman said the NCDC team will potentially have an European flavor to it, as the league doesn’t have a restriction on how many import players teams can have.