With the Maine Nordiques and the Twin City Thunder both home this weekend for three games each, with playoff implications for each team, the message was the same from both coaches.

Every member of the team has to step up.

“I think it has to be all hands on deck,” Maine Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said. “It has to be all hands on deck, we need all four lines, even the guys out of the lineup, the energy has to be high from everybody. We will need strong play in net, we will need strong play on our back end and we will need the forwards to do their job at both ends of the rink.”

Thunder coach Doug Friedman doesn’t care who steps up, but someone has to put their foot in the ground.

“We need consistency from everybody,” Friedman said. “At the end of the day, whether it’s Andrew Kurapov, Gonzalo Hagerman, Bradley Postula or Mathieu Lapierre, it doesn’t matter, we need guys to bring their best effort and best games. Everybody needs to contribute in some way.”

One of the hotter players on the Thunder is defenseman Oliver Rooth, who was named National Collegiate Development Conference defenseman of the week after he had a goal and three assists in three games last weekend.

The Nordiques (19-26-2, 40 points) sit three points behind the Maryland Black Bears (18-21-7, 43 points) for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. Maryland has a game in hand on the Nordiques. After earning a split with the Black Bears last weekend, the Nordiques welcome the rival Northeast Generals, who are seventh in the East Division, as part of Veteran Appreciation Weekend at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Games Friday and Saturday are at 7 p.m., and Sunday’s tilt is at 2 p.m.

While the Generals (17-24-2, 36 points) are sitting in last place in the division, they are coming off a split with the first-place New Jersey Titans last weekend.

“I think anytime the Generals come to town, it’s a good match up,” Howe said. “I know the fan base is passionate with our rivalry with (the Generals organization). I think it has grown as the year has gone on. It’s a huge three games for us at home this weekend and we are excited for it.”

The Thunder (23-19-1, 47 points) hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the National Collegiate Development Conference. This weekend, they host two teams directly ahead of them in the standings: The Northern Cyclones (22-13-6, 50 points), who are seventh, come to town Friday night (7 p.m.), while the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (23-17-5, 51 points) are in tie for fifth in the standings and visit Sunday at 4 p.m. The Boston Jr. Bruins (35-7-3, 73 points), who are in second place, make an appearance on Saturday night (6 p.m.) at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

“We are taking it game by game here, every game is going to be a challenge,” Friedman said. “That’s one of the good things with our league, the teams are pretty close. For us, it’s one game at a time and just focus on playing our best. It’s going to be a playoff mentality that we have to have down the stretch.

Noah Kane, who’s the Nordiques’ leading scorer with 50 points (18 goals and 32 assists) in 47 games, knows he has to be the guy to get the team going as the team’s leader, and the one who wears the “C” on his sweater.

“Especially this being my last year (of junior hockey),” Kane said. “I take responsibility making sure the (team) is ready to go. Definitely, I put that on myself to get everybody going.”

It has been a busy week for Kane. In addition to playing the two games down in Maryland last weekend, he and Cannon Green each represented the Nordiques at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Attleboro, Massachusetts, where they played two games. Kane finished the tournament with a goal and an assist in two games. Green also had a goal.

For the Thunder, they want to turn their fortunes around after a tough weekend down in Foxboro, Massachusetts at the South Shore Kings Presidents Day Showcase, where the team went 1-2.

While the Thunder can’t catch the Jr. Bruins in the standings with seven games left in the regular season, a win would be big, as the Jr. Bruins are the only team the Thunder haven’t been able to beat all season.

“They have had our number all year,” Jeromey Rancourt said. “Like I said, we have one more game to go (against the Jr Bruins). Hopefully we can win. We may not catch them, which is fine, but we would like to improve our chances on who we play in the first round and maybe if we are lucky, get a home game.”

RANCOURT MAKES COLLEGE COMMITMENT

On Wednesday, Rancourt announced he will be heading to Plymouth State University (Plymouth, New Hampshire) next year to continue his hockey career.

The Panthers play in the Division III Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, where this season they won the conference’s regular season title, going 12-3-1 in the league while finishing the regular season 12-9-1 overall.

“I think it’s a really great program. I loved the tour when I went out there,” Rancourt said. “I think it’s going to be a great fit for me personally.”

This season with the Thunder, the 5-foot-11 forward from Lewiston has six goals and seven assists in 39 games.


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