Maine Nordiques’ Trent Grimshaw looks down the ice for an opportunity during a game in Lewiston on Dec. 15. Maine’s Noah Kane and Maryland’s Cameron Recci watch the play from the right. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This past weekend was supposed to be the last of the regular season for the Maine Nordiques, who were slated to end the season with a pair of road games against the Northeast Generals.

However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the North American Hockey League regular season was canceled on March 16.

Maine coach Nolan Howe said the earlier-than-expected ending was a less-than-ideal ending to what was a solid first season in the NAHL.

The Nordiques finished the season 20-32-2 with 42 points, which was seventh in the NAHL Eastern Division, and they were only five points out of a divisional playoff spot with six games remaining on the schedule.

“Regardless if we made the playoffs or not, we wanted to continue to grow and have six more chances to compete with this group,” Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said. “I think it was a special group for our inaugural season. Whether if we made the playoffs or not, we exceeded a lot of people in the hockey world’s expectations. I think we laid a fantastic foundation for the future moving forward. On the ice, and off it as well, we made a lot of improvements.”

Howe said most of the players said during their exit interviews that they felt they their skills were further developed this season.

A big part of the Nordiques’ success this season was Noah Kane, who was tied for first in NAHL with 20 goals and 44 assists for 64 points and was named to the All-NAHL second team. Late in the season he committed to play at Mercyhurst University, an NCAA Division I school that plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.

Kane was a part of the top line, along with Timmy Kent and Cannon Green. The line really got going when Kent left the University of New England to join the team.

Noah Kane of the Maine Nordiques skates up the ice during the first period of Friday’s game against the Northeast Generals. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“They were fantastic. I think once we got Timmy back from school, that kind of solidified that line, they played together the rest of the year,” Howe said. “Each guy averaging about a point a game. They were great leaders and great competitors.”

Green had 23 goals and 29 assists in 54 games, while Kent had 11 goals and 37 assists in 37 games played.

Howe said that Green is expected to back with the Nordiques for the 2020-21 season.

Kane, the cousin of Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, became the first player on the Nordiques who started the season uncommitted to make a college commitment.

“It’s awesome, obviously. I think it’s great for the organization as well,” Kane said. “I am sure there will be many more to come. I am glad to get the first one out of the way, but there’s a bright future, we will see many more to come.”

The Nordiques had other players enter the season with Division I college commitments. Goalie Connor Androlewciz, who was the first tender for the 2019-20 season, made his commitment to the University of Maine prior to playing a game with the Nordiques. Fellow 2019-20 tender Andrius Kulbis-Marino committed to play at Sacred Heart before the season.

Ignat Belov had already committed to the University of Connecticut prior being acquired by the Nordiques in a trade with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League.

Howe said Kulbis-Marino will head to Sacred Heart of the Atlantic Hockey next season, while Belov will have another year of junior hockey seasoning before going to UConn of Hockey East.

Also leaving the team are the six 1999-born players who are aging out of junior hockey: Kane, Kent, Cole Ouellette, Kevin Pitts, Trent Grimshaw and Ethan Prout.

“I wish I got to spend more time with Noah, Timmy and other 99s,” Howe said. “I think they did a great job cementing their legacy. We told them at the beginning of the year, they were going to be the only ones to say they were the first ones to ever do this, and I think they took a lot of pride in that. They really handled themselves on and off the ice as Nordiques. I think future generations have a lot to aspire to, and they did a good job setting the tone.”

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