The Twin City Thunder’s National College Development team continues life on the road this weekend as they travel to New Jersey to take the Rockets Hockey Club.

Eleven of the Thunder’s 14 games this season have been away from the Norway Savings Bank Arena. Twin City’s next home games are Nov. 22-23 against the Utica Jr. Comets.

The heavy road slate hasn’t been too bad, according to head coach Doug Friedman, and there hasn’t been any road fatigue.

“Most of our trips have been generally in that one-movie range,” Friedman said. “Guys can watch a movie, relax and get ready for the game. On the way back, we usually have some fun on the bus, too.”

It will be a two-, maybe three-movie trip to Bridgewater, which is a six-hour-plus dive to Bridgewater, New Jersey.

The Rocket Hockey Club is 3-13-1 and rank 12th of 13 teams in the United States Premier Hockey League’s top division.

The Thunder are 7-6-1 and tied for seventh, so four important points up for grabs.

“That’s our goal, but we can’t overlook anybody in our league,” Friedman said. “We got to make sure we are ready to go. These guys just battled the (Jersey) Hitmen to an overtime loss last weekend. So I know the (Rockets HC) are going to work hard, I know the coach well, and he’s a lot like me, he’s going to be demanding a lot of effort from his team.”

Rockets HC forward Kyle Kawamura is committed to the University of Maine for next season. He has recorded a goal and five assists in 12 games.

The Thunder, meanwhile, will have Zach Desmarais back in the lineup as he returns from a wrist injury. In five games, he has three goals and an assist.  Jeromey Rancourt might also return from injured reserve this weekend.

Friedman expects both players to be contributors offensively when they’re back on the ice.

“It will be a nice boost. Hopefully we will have them both this weekend. We will see how Jeromey does, he just got final clearance (on Tuesday) on how he can handle contact the rest of the week,” Friedman said. “It’s funny, those guys, some people told us, ‘Hey, you are crazy to have that many Premier (League) guys in the lineup.’ We said, ‘No, they are the right Premier guys because they compete so hard and they got good hockey sense.”

Friedman hopes to have defenseman Nicolas Poirier back from injury next week when the Thunder travel to Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, to take on the South Shore Kings, Islanders Hockey Club and the Rochester Monarchs.

Matyas Welser will be heading back home to the Czech Republic for shoulder surgery and he will be out indefinitely.

SODERLING MAKING IMPACT

Swedish defender Casper Soderling is having a solid first season in North America.

The Maine Nordiques’ No. 1 overall pick in the North American Hockey League’s entry draft in June was one of the few bright spots for the team this past weekend when it was swept by the Jamestown Rebels. Soderling notched an assist in each game.

Soderling has nine assists in 16 games, which leads all defenders on the team. Cole Ouellette is second with seven.

“I think his compete level is certainly infectious, and he continues to grow as a player,” Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said last week. “He has a lot of room for growth, but there’s a reason we selected him first overall. We are certainly proud of him. I think he has a lot of room for improvement, but he’s a lot to fun to work with.”

On Thursday, the team called up Lewiston native Sam Frechette from the L/A Nordiques in a move announced on the transactions page on the NAHL website. The 18-year-old forward has six goals and 14 assists in 17 games the NA3HL club so far this season.

According to the Nordiques protected list that USA Hockey keeps, the Nordiques have also added 20-year-old forward Timmy Kent, who spent time with University of New England last season and scored a goal and had an assist in 10 games. He started last season NCDC, playing for the Syracuse Stars and the Junior Bruins. He had three goals and 19 assists in 28 NCDC games.

Kent and Frechette both played Friday afternoon against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. Kent had an an assist while Frechette didn’t reach the score sheet.

TIER III TEAMS DOING WELL

The L/A Nordiques are having a strong start to the season after reaching the NA3HL Fraser Cup Finals in March.

L/A is 15-2 and on top of the Coastal Division. They have the most wins in the NA3HL and their .883 winning percentage is the third-highest, trailing only the Bozeman Icedogs (14-1 with a .933 win percentage) and the Texas Brahams (9-1, .900).

Forward Joe Clark of Gardiner leads L/A with 20 goals and 14 assists, which places him sixth in the league in scoring. Forward Connor Kennedy, who’s in his third season with the Nordiques has already surpassed his season totals from last year with nine goals and 21 assists. Lewiston native Nick Pomerleau has a goal and 19 assists for 20 points, which is tied for fifth on the team with Frechette.

Goaltender Nick Beck leads the league with a 1.30 goals-against average and is second in save percentage at .948. Jason St. Pierre leads the team with eight wins while Beck has seven. That’s second and third, respectfully, in the league.

The Nordiques have a home-and-home series this weekend with the New England Stars, who are tied for second in the Coastal Division.

Meanwhile, across the Androscoggin River, the Thunder have built on their inaugural season and have a 11-8 record and are second in the USPHL Premier League’s New England Division.

Forward Stavos Rigas leads the Thunder with 11 goals and 12 assists, while defenseman Danylo Sukhonos has six goals and 15 assists.

Twin City have used a committee of goaltenders. Brendan Gasaway, Esa Maki and Filip Jagren each have three wins, while Jeremy Brunet has two.

The Thunder lost to the Islanders Hockey Club 9-1 Friday night in a battle for first place in the New England division. Islanders HC is 12-0 on the year. On Saturday, the Thunder host New Hampshire to take on the Monarchs.


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