For the second straight year in the North American Hockey League Entry Draft, the Maine Nordiques used their first pick on a defenseman, with the selection of 20-year-old Calgary, Alberta native James Philpott on Tuesday.

Last year, the Nordiques made defenseman Casper Soderling their first-round selection, who’s scheduled to return for the upcoming season.

In May, the team selected defensemen Cooper Swift and Kaden Johnson in the supplemental draft. The team went heavy on defensemen in both the entry draft on Tuesday and the supplemental draft earlier this offseason because the signed a multitude of forwards and two goalies as tenders in the offseason.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Philpott found a home in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League this past season  after spending the previous two seasons bouncing around from the British Columbia Hockey League and the Alberta Junior Hockey League to the SJHL.

He started the 2019-20 season with the Melville Millionaires, where he had a goal and 12 assists in 17 games, before joining the La Ronge Ice Wolves, where had 10 goals and 28 assists in 38 games.

“We think he will be able to come in and be a two-way defenseman that can play top minutes for us,” Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said. “We are very excited about getting him. We identified him early in the process and so we were very happy with our first-round pick.”


Philpott wouldn’t be the first former Ice Wolves player to call the Androscoggin Bank Colisee home, as Marc-Andre Carre was brought in by the Lewiston Maineiacs for eight games in the 2009-10 season after putting up 21 goals and 22 assists with the Ice Wolves earlier in that campaign. He recorded no points in a Maineiacs uniform.

Maine continued to add to the blue line, bringing in 17-year-old Mack Oliphant, who played at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Northbrook, Illinois native had four assists in 27 games for the Spartans.

Howe has a relationship with the Oliphant family.

“Mack was someone we thought was someone who was going back to school for his senior season, but with everything going on, (he) decided on the junior route,” Howe said. “He was a late addition to our draft board. I spoke to the family this morning, but with my previous relationship, as soon his name came across my (draft) board he was a guy we wanted to go after and go after aggressively.”

Oliphant will also not be the first former Lawrence Academy player to potentially call the Colisee home, as Zach Shannon played for the Maineiacs from 2009-11.

The run of defenders continued in the third round as the Nordiques selected Nolan Sargent of Littleton, Colorado. With Regis Jesuit High School he had seven goals and 15 assists in 18 high school games, and a goal and three assists in four North American Prospect Hockey League 18U games.


Regis Jesuit was supposed to play an exhibition game against Lewiston High School this season but the game got canceled.

The fourth defenseman was selected in the seventh round, as the Nordiques selected 20-year-old Stephen Perez of the NCDC’s PAL Islanders. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Perez had two assists in 36 games a year ago.

Howe believes Sargent and Perez will push the other defensemen in the organization for roster spots when the team has its main camp at the Colisee from Aug. 11-14.

In the fifth round, the Nordiques selected a forward in St. Albans, Vermont native Connor Wood. With Cushing Academy of Ashburnham, Massachusetts, the 19-year-old, 5-foot-11, 185 pound Wood had 16 goals and 27 assists in 34 games. His 43 points was third on the team. He also had six goals in nine games with the Eastern Mass 18U Senators.

“Connor Wood is in a similar category like our tenders (Tristan) Fasig, (Jack) Kurrle, (Aidan) Connolly and some of our returners, he’s a big heavy winger, skates well, skilled, strong, goes north and south very well,” Howe said. “I think he’s going to compete on an opening-night roster.”

The Nordiques selected 18-year-old forward Anthony Galante of Morganville, New Jersey in the sixth round. With the New Jersey Titans 18U team, the 5-foot-10, 155 pound had 13 goals and seven assists in 23 games. He’s set to play with the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy 18U team this season.


With their pick in the eighth round, the Nordiques stayed in-house again, selecting 16-year-old forward Zion Green, who is set to play with the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy 16U team this season. This past season in 31 15U games with three different teams Oakland Jr. Grizzles, Little Caesars and Compuware   Green had 16 goals and 13 assists. He’s the younger brother of Maine Nordiques forward Cannon Green.

“Galante and Zion Green, those are guys that committed to our U18 and U16 programs,” Howe said. “We feel very confident with them moving forward with our organization as guys who push to make the NAHL team, if not at the beginning of the season, but as guys who get called up throughout the year.”

The final pick saw the Nordiques also stay in-house with the selection of Jackson Vercellono, who spent time this season with the L/A Nordiques of the North American 3 Hockey League. He had 10 goals and six assists in eight games with the L/A Nordiques and had eight goals and 12 assists in 21 games with the North Iowa Bulls, also of the NA3HL. He appeared in two games with the St. Cloud Blizzard of the NAHL this season, recording no points.

“We were very impressed with Jackson coming in at the end of the season this year,” Howe said. “A veteran player who knows what it is about, he knows our facility, he knows our coaches and we know him. We’re impressed with him and being able to add another element with Jackson, with a homegrown guy from our NA3HL program, I think it’s fantastic.”

Vercellono was the second L/A Nordiques player drafted on Tuesday, as Gardiner’s Joe Clark went in the fourth round to the Janesville Jets. Vercellono will join L/A Nordiques teammate Sam Frechette as players who look to make the Maine Nordiques next season. Frechette, a Lewiston native, signed a tender in the offseason.

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