The Maine Nordiques tendered two more Division I commits on Thursday with the signings of forwards Jack Kurrle (University of Vermont in 2022-23) and Aidan Connolly (Sacred Heart in 2021-22).

Kurrle, of Middlesex, Vermont is 6-foot-1, 185 pound forward played out of the Florida Alliance 16U team this season.

Kurrle had an injury riddled season only playing in 19 games, scoring nine goals and 10 assists. He had 24 goals and 47 assists in 54 games for the Selects Hockey Academy 15U team in 2018-19 season.

“He’s a player that we saw this year a handful of times and coach (Matt) Pinchevsky has known him since (Kurrle) was younger,” Maine Nordiques associate head coach Cam Robichaud said. “We had eyes on him and he’s a player that already got the attention from (Vermont) and needs a platform to continue growing and developing before he gets to that level. We wanted to put our name in the hat to see if this would be a spot he would be interested in. We had very good conversations with him and he’s very interested in taking the step from the midget to the junior level.”

Kurrle was also selected ninth overall by the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the 2019 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s American Draft which is a separate draft from the league’s annual midget draft.

Connolly, 18, comes out of the Dexter School where he had 15 goals and 26 assists in 22 prep hockey games. He also played for the Neponset Valley River Rats U18 team where he had eight goals and nine assists in 34 games.

The Marshfield, Massachusetts native is 5-foot-11 and took part in the Nordiques predraft camp last May, but wanted to finish up his senior year at Dexter.

“He’s a player that we are bringing in to replace the production we lost with (Trent) Grimshaw, (Noah) Kane, (Kevin) Pitts and (Tim Kent) moving on to college,” Robichaud said. “Those guys had a lot of production for us and we are hoping Connolly comes in and fills some shoes as well.”

Both Kurrle and Connolly may spark some United States Hockey League interest. Connolly was a draft pick of the Youngstown Phantoms in 2017.

“Both of them had conversations with USHL teams,” Robichaud said. “It’s a fine line, we want players that are high-end in the North American (Hockey) League; with that comes the fact they may get interest from USHL teams as well. It’s similar to the (Andrius) Kulbis-Marino last season who we tendered. He went through the process at the USHL (level) and making the (Tri-City Storm). Both of these players, may have a similar scenario being Division I-committed players having the opportunity to tryout with USHL teams.”

The Kurrle signing fulfills the Nordiques requirement to sign a tender out of the North American Prospects Hockey Leagues 16U. They still will need to sign a player out of the NAPHL 18U league. They got their NA3HL tender by signing Sam Frechette.

THUNDER TENDER 200-FOOT FORWARD

Billy Hartnett tried out for the Twin City National Collegiate Development Conference team last summer.

The Thunder coaching staff thought he needed another year of seasoning. Their hunch was correct as another year of full-season midget hockey did wonders for the 19-year-old forward. On Friday, the Thunder made Harnett their fourth NCDC tender for the 2020-21 season as he had 25 goals and 19 assists in 54 games with the East Coast Spartans 18U team.

“He came to our camp last year and he just wasn’t ready to play at the NCDC level yet,” Thunder NCDC coach Dan Hodge said. “I thought he had a pretty good season at the U18 level where he put up some points, and he skated with us again in the winter and it was completely different— it was night and day to be honest with you when he came and skated with us this winter. He looked really confident, really strong and I really enjoyed him watching him skate that day. I have been watching him for a couple of years.”

The biggest change from the summer to winter was Hartnett’s confidence Hodge said.

Hartnett also suited up in a game for the L/A Nordiques this season in the NA3HL. On Nov. 17 as the Nordiques defeated the Danbury Colonials 6-2 and Hartnett recorded no points.

Hartnett is 6-foot-1 175 pounds is from Weymouth, Massachusetts.

He hits hard, he gets (into the offensive zone) first and not afraid to go into the corners to get the puck on his stick,” Hodge said. “He knows how to go to the net and he knows where to shoot (the puck) and he knows how to create offensive chances. For a big kid, to be able to have an eye for making plays and know how to get to the net, he just has that nose for the net as they say.”

Hodge likes Hartnett’s ability to play in all three zones. Hodge is specifically looking for players who know how to care of their own end.

“He’s a kid that’s going to take care of his (defensive) zone first and the offense is going to take care of itself,” Hodge said. “He’s a player that’s going to take a challenge of making players earn every inch in the (defensive) zone. When he gets the puck on the stick in the offensive zone, he knows what to do with it.”

NAHL MOVES ENTRY DRAFT, ADDS SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT

On Friday, the North American Hockey League announced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will host two drafts this spring and summer. The annual entry draft which is usually held in early June has been moved to July 21 while the league added a three-round supplemental draft on May 12.

“With the virus taking place, it slowed the ability of teams to have camps and evaluations of players,” Robichaud said. “They decided to push back the (entry) draft to later in July, but also gave the opportunity to teams to take a crack at their high end draft picks early on being on May 12th and that’s the supplement draft.”

Prior to the entry draft, NAHL teams will turn in their protected list of tenders and veterans in order to determine the number of picks they will have in the entry draft.

“The supplemental draft is necessary to serve as an additional outlet for teams to make decisions on how players performed in the 2019-20 season. A lot of time and effort has gone into scouting and recruiting. This way teams can make some decisions early,” NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld said in a press release. “Equally as important, the rescheduling of the NAHL entry draft was necessary to allow teams time to make decisions on how players perform at team tryout camps.  Players develop over the summer and some of the best players in the NAHL are discovered through the tryout process.”

Teams will have an additional tender that they will be able to use starting on May 13.

The Maine Nordiques expects to have a camp potentially in July if it’s safe to do.


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