Andrew Kurapov and Christian Blomquist, the Twin City Thunder’s top two scorers, have been selected to play in the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference All-Star game later this month.

“It’s great for them. We had a couple guys that were in the running, but unfortunately those were our only two (players). I think we could have had a few more on there,” Thunder coach Doug Friedman said. “They will represent us well, they both earned it, they have been both tremendous players for us to this point.”

 

The All-Star game is Jan. 20 at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Kurapov, a 20-year-old forward who has 11 goals and 28 assists in 32 games this season, was named NCDC Forward of the Week last week after posting two goals and four assists in three games at the USPHL Winter Showcase.

“You get what you earn, nothing is handed to you. I think I have put good enough work in and I got a result out of that,” Kurapov said.

Kurapov said he received a lot of messages from family and friends congratulating him.

Joining Kurapov is the 18-year-old Blomquist, also a forward, who has potted 17 goals and 10 assists in 32 games. Blomquist credits his former hockey team for his success so far this season.

“I have to credit Skipjacks Hockey Club, the place where I played last year,” Blomquist said. “They helped me prepare me for the next stop, which is the NCDC, but they can’t prepare you for everything. Just getting used to living and getting use to the surroundings, but it’s something you have to get use to. I am very happy here and how things have turned out lately.”

The Twin City Lightning — the Thunder’s 18U midget team — will have two players in the USPHL 18U midget All-Star game, Dom Chasse (20 goals and 13 assists in 19 games this season) and defenseman Nathan Marcotte (three goals and seven assists in 20 games). The 18U All-Star game will also be at Merrimack College on Jan. 20.

THUNDER TRANSACTIONS

Prior to the weekend series against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, the Twin City Thunder made three roster moves.

The first move was Kyle Nelson being called up to the Thunder NCDC team. Nelson, an 18-year-old from Haddam, Connecticut, comes to Twin City from one of its Premier League affiliates, the Springfield Pics. He has recorded 10 assists in 25 games with the Pics this season.

The Thunder also called up defenseman Adam Stepanek from the Thunder Premier League team. He has six goals and 14 assists in 20 games.

“We were a little bit light on the blue line, in terms of players,” Friedman said. “Again, (Premier League coach) Alex Drulia has done a good job with the Premier guys. Stepanek is a guy we can call up and play solid minutes for us and understands what we want from him. We had our affiliate player, Kyle Nelson, (on Saturday) do a good job, and (Sunday) we got Nicolas Poirier back from (suspension).”

The Thunder are also without defenseman and Bowdoin College commit Gonzalo Hagerman, who is currently with the Mexician U20 National Team at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Division III World Junior Championship, which began on Monday in Bulgaria.

Friedman said the team will bring in another defensemen within the next week or two.

The third move was the team sending 20-year-old defenseman Andrei Bartashevich to Seahawks Hockey of the Tier III Eastern Hockey League, where Bartashevich played last season.

The Belarus native had two assists in 25 games with the Thunder.

FORMER MAGICIANS IN L-A

Both the Maine Nordiques and the Twin City Thunder’s NCDC team have goaltenders on their rosters who suited up for the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL this season.

Prior to Friday’s game against the New Jersey Titans, the Nordiques signed Wesley Mankowski, a 19-year-old from Sylvania, Ohio, was 2-6-1 with a 3.21 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage with the Magicians.

In his debut Friday night, Mankowski made 34 saves in the Nordiques’ 7-2 victory over the Titans. He also started in Saturday’s night 7-4 loss to the Titans. He was lifted midway through game after allowing four goals on 26 shots

“He ended up being let go (by the Magicians), and he was someone who was on our radar as a potential trade candidate,” Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said after Friday’s game. “When we were able to acquire him as a free agent. For us, it was a great opportunity. Again, we like to have three goalies all year. To get that depth back, after losing (Connor Androwlewciz), is huge for us. (Mankowski) came in and he was a real steady presence for us. I thought for his first game, he did an outstanding job.”

Nordiques had been going with only Avery Sturtz and Marco Duronio since Androlewicz was called up by the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League for the remainder of the season in December.

Last week, the Twin City Thunder brought back Jaxon Friedman who played for the Thunder’s Premier League team last season. He appeared in one game with the Magicians, on Dec. 28.

MICHAUD REASSIGNED TO THE MNDP

Eric Michaud, who has been the Nordiques’ organization video coordinator and L/A Nordiques associated head coach this season, will spend the remainder of the season with the organization’s Maine Nordiques Development Program 18U team as an assistant coach.

The move to Princeton, New Jersey, is in preparation for next season when the MNDP moves to Lewiston.

“We thought it was a good opportunity for him to get behind the bench and get some experience down there,” Howe said. “With the U18s moving here next year, we thought it was a good learning opportunity for him. He’s a tremendous young coach for us, he does a lot for all of our teams. Just like with our players, it makes us interchangeable and a deep staff.”

Michaud will continue to do video work for the NAHL and NA3HL teams while in New Jersey.


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