The Maine Nordiques signed defenseman Andrew Noel of Kimball Union Academy to an NAHL tender this week.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Maynard, Massachusetts, had three goals and 13 assists in 34 games this season with Kimball Union (Plainfield, New Hampshire).

In three seasons (2017-2020) at the academy, he had six goals and 22 assists in 111 career games. Noel also had four assists in 26 games with Brooks School (North Andover, Massachusetts) in 2016-17.

Noel already has NCAA Division III schools interested in him, and he hopes that playing junior hockey will spark some Division I interest. He chose the Nordiques over other NAHL teams is because of the facilities at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“The fact they skate twice a day and they are in a gym as a team, I think that’s important to me,” Noel said. “Being able to find a team with a gym and weight room inside the rink. You have a lot of teams that might give you a free membership at the local gym and you can go in whenever you want. Not many teams are training together, and I think that’s pretty important.”

Noel fills a need on the Nordiques’ blueline, according to associate head coach Cam Robichaud.

“He’s a big strong defensive (defenseman) who’s willing to do the dirty work,” Robichaud said. “He fits that perfectly, his skating a ability is strong and we are really excited to have him on board for next season.”

Robichaud said he also spoke to other coaches that Noel has played for, and they said Noel has good character and has a great work ethic.

Kimball Union coach Tim Whitehead, who was the University of Maine men’s coach from 2001-13 and the UMass-Lowell coach from 1996-2001, said Noel reminds him of former Black Bear Brice O’Connor (2010-14), as well as RJ Tolan (1998-2002), who Whitehead coached at Lowell.

“(Brice) was a fierce competitor and a real steady defensive defenseman who gradually developed into a very effective offensive defenseman as well,” Whitehead said. “He was a mainstay on our power play at Maine, in addition to being one of the toughest competitors I have ever coached.

“Those are a couple of guys that come to my mind off the top of my head, two very well-respected former players of mine and guys who I loved coaching, and Andrew is in that mold.”

Whitehead said Noel has improved each season, and with the work ethic Noel has, Whitehead wouldn’t be surprised if he attracts Division I interest.

“He’s always been a good player. I’ve watched him since Cardigan Mountain, a junior prep school (in Canaan, New Hampshire), and he was at the Brooks School for one year,” Whitehead said. “He’s always a good player, but I think it’s been over the past couple of years — when some kids either fade a bit when they are in a tough challenge to play on a strong team and other kids rise to the challenge, he just sharpened the saw and just got after it. He has really emerged as a two-way complete player.”

Noel said his sophomore year at Kimball Union was key in his development, as he was on the same team with multiple future Division I players.

“We had guys like Jordan Harris and (Andranik) Armstrong, who were on the team and they were monsters,” Noel said. “Being an younger guy and seeing what they do in the gym and on the ice, how hard they compete, it really made me more a competitive person. I strive to be like them every day.”

Harris, a third-round drip pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2018, just completed his sophomore season at Northeastern University. Armstrong is set to join the University of Massachusetts-Lowell next season after two seasons of junior hockey, including playing for the Minot Minotauros of the NAHL this past season.

He becomes the fourth player to sign a tender with the Maine Nordiques for next season, joining forwards Tyler Gaulin, Sam Frechette and goalie Kyle Chauvette.

A tender is a contract that gives a team a player’s NAHL rights, and the player cannot be drafted or signed by another NAHL team. The player, however, can sign with another team in another junior league.


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