Sam Frechette jumps for height at the start of the Maine Nordiques camp on Friday afternoon. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Alex Rivet, from Lewiston, does a standing jump at the start of the Maine Nordiques camp on Friday afternoon. Jesse Cook, on right, records the best of three jumps. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The first day of Maine Nordiques main camp featured a lot of running, jumping and weightlifting, as the 44 players trying out for the Tier II NAHL team and 21 Maine Nordiques Development Program U18 players went through NHL Draft Combine-like testing.

The organization uses TPA Sports, a high-performance training facility based in Toronto, Ontario that 16 NHL teams use to help with their training programs.

The fitness testing is one aspect of the player evaluation for the coaches.

“As a staff we review it, and for our players drafted and tendered, they have been doing a program through TPA Sports and Jesse Cook (TPA Sports President and Director of Performance) the last several months,” Maine Nordiques associate head coach Cam Robichaud said. “We get weekly and monthly reports so we can kind guestimate what players are going to do here from (those reports). It’s a good way for us to see who has been putting the work, the time and effort, but also tracking to see if guys seem to get to a standstill, decline in progress because of an injury or sickness, or mentally if a guy is unhappy and it’s been affecting him in the gym in training. That might be an indication that we might need to check in with that player.”

Players had their height and weight measured, their grip tested, went through a shuttle run, and did the long jump and vertical jump. They also had to do pull-ups and a bench press of 50 percent of their body weight.

“We are doing different tests than most teams would do,” Cook said. “We are bringing in some pretty unique technology for our guys. We are doing a vertical jump and jump off a force plate so we are not only looking at their jump height, we are looking at what their power output is and velocity. We are doing a standing long jump to look at the horizontal power and doing different strength metrics.”

TPA Sports has been at the Nordiques’ pre-draft camp in May in Portland and at the open camp in Pennsylvania that was held in June. They will also be back in August for training camp.

Having TPA Sports help out through the summer has helped motivate the players.

“The guys are excited about it, because we tell them half of the NHL is doing the same type of testing or using the same type of programming,” Robichaud said. “It creates a buy-in factor for our players because if it’s good enough for players at the highest level in the world, it’s definitely good enough for them.”

Some players take the testing seriously and others know it’s just part of the process of being a hockey player in 2019.

“The past couple of months I have been training for this, skating with coaches back home leading up to this camp,” forward Tristan Thibeault said. “It’s a pretty big deal to me. I take it pretty heavily and serious. It’s pretty competitive here. You really need to showcase your best to make the team. That’s what I am here to do.”

As a ninth-round draft pick from this spring, Thibeault has been through the TPA program and has come up a couple of days a week to work with Robichaud and assistant coach Matt Pinchevsky on the ice and in the gym.

For third round pick Matt Minerva, he wasn’t too concerned with the off-ice testing.

“Not too much, just go (out) and do it,” Minerva said. “It’s pretty easy.”

The 44 players who are trying to make the NAHL team had their testing done after the camp’s first scrimmage of the weekend. Team Blue drew the short straw as they were the first team to go through the testing while Team Red met with the coaching staff for player interviews.

“Getting off the ice you are still pretty warm,” said Thibeault, who’s on Team Blue for the weekend. “I just got a quick meal in me, I kind of stretched and rolled out, so I am ready to do the tests now.”

The team and TPA Sports will factor into Friday’s results that they were coming off game-like conditions.

“We are trying to work within the constraints of the camp to make sure it runs as efficiently as possible,” Cook said. “We’ve got to take that (the players just came off the ice) into consideration, but the big thing here we want to make sure we get metrics on them that we can still get to look at.”

These combine results and the results from earlier in the summer could be a deciding factor if a player makes the roster or not.

“If you have two guys come in and they are very equal on the ice, let’s say they have a similar role for this team, maybe two top six (forwards) or two bottom six (forwards),” Robichaud said. “If everything is even head-to-head and you take a glance at this fitness stuff and one guy has 15 percent body fat and one guy has seven, one guy is moving a little quicker or one guy is a little stronger, that could put them over the edge, absolutely.”

TEAM BLUE WINS OPENING SCRIMMAGE

Team Blue defeated Team Red 4-1 in the opening scrimmage of the main camp Friday morning. Lewiston’s own Alex Rivet opened the scoring for Team Blue. Stephen Owens, Patrick Murphy and Andrius Marino also scored in the victory. Trent Grimshaw scored for Team Red. Team Blue takes on the U18 team at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday while Team Red will take on the the U18 team at 5:30 p.m. Team Red and Team Blue will meet again Sunday at noon. All games are at the Colisee and open to the public for free.


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