With the Twin City Thunder National Collegiate Development Conference losing a lot of offense from last year’s team, the plan is simple for Wednesday’s NCDC Draft — get forwards who can put the puck in the net.

“I am looking for offensive forwards that can score goals,” Thunder co-owner and coach Dan Hodge said. “More than that, players that are all-around, play (in the defensive) zone, play in all three zones around the ice and make sure we have good all-around players. We want some offense with our guys who will be good teammates.”

The leading scorer from last year’s team, Andrew Kurapov (22 goals and 39 assists), aged out of junior hockey and is still looking for a place to play college hockey next season. Christian Blomquist (24 goals and 26 assists) signed a tender with the New Jersey Titans of the North American Hockey League while Levente Keresztes (12 goals and 30 assists) was drafted in the 14th round of the United States Hockey League Entry Draft last month.

Hodge said at the time when Keresztes was drafted that Keresztes is still looking at his options next year, whether its playing in the USHL or Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. But Hodge said Kereztes has a spot on the Thunder if he wants to return.

Hodge said this offseason that forwards John Kondub (11 goals, 24 assists), Zachary Desmarais (nine goals and six assists) and Martin Moiffer (four goals, five assists) are slated to return. The team tendered forwards Nate Chickering, Zac Bell, Billy Hartnett and Matus Hadusovsky.

Anthony Cineto was also tendered but committed to New England College shortly thereafter.

Despite not having a goalie set to return, Hodge isn’t necessarily looking at selecting a goalie on Wednesday. He will look to last year’s formula instead.

“We are following the same pattern like we did last year,” Hodge said. “We are bringing in goalies to main camp and we are going to let them battle it out. Last year (Alexander) Kozic and Artur (Ogandzhanyan), they won the jobs at camp. That was the way it was done. They came in (and) earned the position. We don’t want anybody coming in thinking they will be given a job; everybody has to earn it.”

Hodge has told potential goalies he wants goalies to win the job.

Kozic will be playing at Bowdoin College this upcoming season while Ogandzhanyan was traded to the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs midseason when Jaxon Friedman rejoined the organization after starting last season in the NAHL. Friedman has aged out of junior hockey.

Hodge felt he addressed the defensive needs of the team through the tender process.

Hodge has been doing a lot of scouting on video the past few months because the coronavirus pandemic has canceled predraft camps and the USPHL Spring Showcases.

The pandemic has let him get to know players better rather than talking to a player quickly in a locker room setting at a camp.

“I can get the kid on the phone for 15 minutes maybe and just kind of do an interview,” Hodge said. “It’s been tough but it’s also been very rewarding.”

One thing that won’t change the draft because of the pandemic is it being virtual. The draft has always been virtual.

“That will be the one piece that’s still the same,” Hodge said. “You name your pick; you make your calls after to tell the kids they (have been drafted). It’s an exciting day for some players and I am excited to take part. I didn’t take part of it last year so I look forward to take part of it this year.”

Last year, former coach Doug Friedman ran the draft.

PROUT COMMITS TO WILLIAMS

Ethan Prout, left, and Samuel Harris of the Nordiques try to give their goaltender Connor Androlewicz a hand on an incoming shot on Saturday. Ron Morin photo

Maine Nordiques defenseman Ethan Prout has committed to Willams College, a Division III school in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

The 20-year-old from Boulder, Colorado was tied for second among defensemen, along with Casper Soderling, with 28 points, just two points back from Cole Ouellette. Prout had five goals and 23 assists on the season.

“Ethan is a fantastic young man whose intelligence, character and competitiveness was loved by his coaches, his teammates and the entire Nordique Nation,” Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said in a NAHL press release. “He earned respect through his dedication day in and day out and was a consistent force for the Maine Nordiques in our inaugural season. It was great to see Ethan develop as the year progressed and he was someone we counted on and trusted in all situations.”

“Although he will be missed,” Howe said, “we know Ethan will be a tremendous addition to Williams College and we believe he will do great things both on the ice and in the classroom during his time there. He is a first-class person, someone we are very proud to call an (alumnus), and we wish him all the best,”

Prior to joining the Nordiques, Prout played for the Richmond Generals of the United States Premier Hockey League’s Premier League. The 6-foot 185-pound defenseman had five goals and 27 assists in his first junior hockey season in 2018-19.

Prout spent three seasons from 2015-18 with the Colorado Roughriders midget hockey program, where he played for the 16U and 18U teams in the North American Prospects Hockey League.

Williams went 17-8-1 in 2019-20 as the Ephs finished first in the NESCAC but lost to Wesleyan in the NESCAC semifinals.

Prout becomes the second Nordiques player to commit to a Division III school as he joins Trent Grimshaw who committed to SUNY-Oswego.

CLARK SIGNS IN THE AJHL

Central Maine members of the national championship-winning Maine Moose U18 hockey team included, from left to rigth, Joe Clark of West Gardiner, Dylan Cunningham of Oakland, Zach Whitney of Chelsea, Matt Poirier of Gardiner and Warren Karlberg of Gardiner. The team won its third straight U18 USA Hockey Tier II national championship in 2019. Contributed photo

Joe Clark, who played with the L/A Nordiques last year, will be heading to Alberta as he signed a letter of intent with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The West Gardiner native was ninth in the North American 3 Hockey League scoring with 50 goals and 34 assists in 47 games.

The L/A Nordiques has ceased operations.

Prior to playing for the L/A Nordiques, Clark played for the Maine Moose midget hockey program from 2015-19 and had a brief stint with the Twin City Thunder Premier League team in 2018-19.

“I’m looking forward to being part of Fort McMurray’s culture, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the community and AJHL,” Clark said in Oil Barons press release. “It’s a great (honor) to be part of a program that includes Scottie Upshall as part of its alumni class. I try to model my game after Scottie Upshall.”

Upshall played in the NHL from 2002-18 for six teams.

The AJHL is one of 10 Canadian Junior A Hockey Leagues under the Hockey Canada umbrella. The AJHL has had 62 players commit to NCAA Division I schools the past three seasons. Oil Barons defense Kabore Dunn is committed to the University of Maine for next season.

THUNDER FUTURES PICK DRAFTED IN THE QMJHL

Goalie Justin Katz, who was selected by the Twin City Thunder in the NCDC Future’s Draft this winter, was selected by the Moncton Wildcats Saturday in the fifth round QMJHL Entry Draft.

The Mont-Royal, Quebec native played for Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts where he was a teammate of Lewiston native Alex Robert last season. The 5-foot-8, 130 pound 15-year-old appeared in 13 games last year as he had a 3.28 goals-against-average and a .890 save percentage.

BOSTON ADVANTAGE JOIN THE USPHL

The USPHL announced the Boston Advantage midget hockey program has joined the USPHL ranks. The program will also have teams competing at the junior hockey level with a team in the NCDC and Premier levels, along with teams at the 18U, 16U and 15U midget hockey levels.

The Advantage were co-founded by former University of Maine forward Tim Lovell who played at Maine from 1993-95 before transferring to Massachusetts-Amherst for his senior season when the Black Bears program was put on NCAA probation.

For the past three years, Lovell has been an assistant coach with the Northeast Generals of the NAHL. Joe Lovell will be the head coach of the NCDC team. Joe was the head coach of the Generals from 2016-19.


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