In USPHL NCDC scrimmage, Twin City Thunder forward Levente Keresztes (27) attempts to skate by Patriks Marcinkevics (17) of the Islanders. RAM Sports Photography

Last week’s North American Hockey League Entry Draft featured the Maine Nordiques making eight selections, four Mainers being taken and one Twin City Thunder player drafted — Levente Kereztes, who was picked in the 16th round by the New Jersey Titans.

The 18-year-old Hungarian was impressive with the Thunder National Collegiate Development Conference team this past season, notching 12 goals and 30 assists in 42 games in his first season in North America. 

“He came in and we weren’t really kind of certain where he will be,” former Twin City Thunder coach Doug Friedman said last week. “I remember talking to (former assistant coach) Danny Condon about him, the longer you saw him, it was, ‘Geez, we have something here with this kid.’ We had a bunch of kids like that that surprised us early on, but as a 2002 birth year, his size (6-foot-5, 190 pounds) helps him for sure, but he’s just a smart player and has a nice skill set. Like a lot of guys, he needs to shoot the puck more, but he’s really crafty and was a big part of our success last year.”

In May, Keresztes was selected in the 14th round of the United State Hockey League Entry Draft to the Youngstown Phantoms. 

The USHL is the goal next season for Keresztes — if his travel back to the United States isn’t restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The number one option is the Youngstown Phantoms,” Keresztes told the Sun Journal in a message last week. “The second option is the New Jersey Titans. The third (option) is to go back to (the) Twin City Thunder, to whom I owe a lot for last season, most notably to (former) head coach Doug Friedman and his family, plus the (former) assistant coach, Dan Condon.” 

Thunder co-owner and current head coach Dan Hodge said this spring that Keresztes would be welcomed back to the Thunder next season. 

The Titans also signed Christian Blomquist, who played for the Thunder last season, to a tender this spring. 

NAHL TO OPEN IN OCTOBER

On Monday, the North American Hockey League announced its season will begin on Oct. 9 and a schedule will be released by Sept. 1.

In normal years, the NAHL season opens in September.

“We have spent a lot of time discussing return dates and are excited to be moving forward at this time. Our number one priority remains returning to the ice this fall in the safest manner possible for everyone in our hockey community, and we believe that Oct. 9 is a good date to achieve that goal,” NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld said in a news release. “Between now and the schedule release we will be communicating with the NHL, USA Hockey and the USHL to develop the most current return-to-play guidelines as possible.”

The USHL has not made an announcement on its start date.

With the start of the 2020-21 season pushed back to October, the usual season-opening NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, has been moved to Dec. 16-19. The 2021 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament will take place Feb. 8-9, 2021, in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and the 2021 NAHL Robertson Cup National Championship will take place from May 21-25, 2021, in Blaine.

“Our events play a big role in the development, exposure and advancement of our players,” Frankenfeld said. “Our goal for the upcoming 2020-21 season was to make sure that all three events could take place in the safest manner possible. While we are disappointed we cannot have our NAHL Showcase during its normal time in September, we feel moving it back to December gives everyone the best opportunity to attend and enjoy the event.”

The NAHL is the latest junior league to set a start date. The USPHL’s National Collegiate Development Conference will begin the weekend of Sept. 25-27. The British Columbia Hockey League, in which former St. Dom’s and University of Maine standout Derek Damon will coach this season, announced earlier this month that it will be starting Dec. 1. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is looking at an Oct. 1 start date, while the Western Hockey League is looking to start Oct. 2. The Ontario Hockey League, which is in the Canadian Hockey League along with QMJHL and WHL, has yet to make its plans known for 2020-21.

BOWDOIN’S STONEMAN TO PLAY JUNIORS 

In the second round of last week’s NAHL Draft, the Northeast Generals selected Andy Stoneman, who just completed his freshman season with the Bowdoin College.

The 20-year-old Fairbault, Minnesota native had three goals and three assists with his first year with the Polar Bears. 

Colby goalkeeper Andrew Tucci makes a save on a shot from Bowdoin’s Andy Stoneman (9) last November in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

With Bowdoin suspending sports until Jan. 1, 2021, Stoneman has decided to play a full season of junior hockey instead of the potential half-season with Bowdoin. 

“He’s taking the year off completely and to play juniors because he has that year left of (junior) eligibility,” Bowdoin coach and Lewiston native Jamie Dumont said. 

Dumont said Stoneman is the only player so far on the Bowdoin roster with junior hockey eligibility remaining who has decided to go back to junior hockey. Bowdoin has former Thunder players Alexander Kozic and Gonzalo Hagerman as incoming freshman but they are not able to be enrolled at Bowdoin in the fall, take classes on campus and still play with the Thunder the first half of the season. 

“If we do restart up, they would not be eligible because they were enrolled as a student-athlete,” Dumont said. “They wouldn’t be eligible for the second semester, they would have to totally separate themselves from school, play junior (hockey) then come in and have an extra year.”

RIVET ATTENDING TOMAHAWKS CAMP 

Lewiston native Alex Rivet will look to get back into the NAHL in his final season of junior hockey eligibility as he is attending the Johnstown Tomahawks main camp this week.

Rivet, 20, was a Maine Nordiques tender for the 2019-20 season. He made the team and tallied three goals and five assists in 27 games. He was released in January then finished out the season with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, recording two assists in 12 games. 

In June, Rivet was selected in the NCDC draft by the Utica Jr. Comets, but he wants to give the NAHL another try before committing to Utica. 

SECOND UMAINE COMMIT DRAFTED 

In addition to Maximilian Bogdanovich of Scarborough being drafted by the Minot Mintauros in the first round of the NAHL Entry Draft, fellow University of Maine recruit Samuel Duerr was selected by the St. Cloud Norsemen in the seventh round. The 18-year-old defenseman from Chicago played last season with the Shattuck St. Mary’s, a prep school in Fairbault, Minnesota, which counts among its alumni Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, New York Islanders prospect Oliver Wahlstrom, who was born in Yarmouth, and Kozic. 

Duerr had 13 goals and 23 assists in 44 games for Shattuck St. Mary’s. He also appeared in three games with the Sioux Stampede of the USHL, recording no points. 

Deurr signed with the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League for upcoming season earlier this summer. 

Three incoming Maine freshman played in the NAHL this past season in forwards Tristan Poissant (Johnstown Tomahawks), Zachary Aughe (Aberdeen Wings) and defenseman Bryden Sinclair (Maryland Black Bears) 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.