AUBURN — The Androscoggin Bank Colisee isn’t quite ready, so the Maine Nordiques opened their main camp across the river at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Tuesday as the organization gets a first look at its potential roster for the upcoming season.

Maine Nordiques head coach and director of hockey operations Nolan Howe, center, talks with assistant coach Matt Pinchevsky as they evaluate players during Tuesday morning’s camp as another coach waits to talk to them. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Setting up the camp has been quite the process with the ongoing coronavirus, but everybody is excited for the week ahead as the camp runs until Friday.

“Everybody is so excited to play, excited to be here and appreciate the opportunity to play for the opportunity to play for the Maine Nordiques,” Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said. “Everyone has handled it great. I think the biggest thing in today’s world is being understanding, having a little patience and a lot of personal respect for everyone for how they feel. Everybody looks at this a little bit differently, but at the end of the day, we are trying to be good humans, good people. So far things have gone great.”

On the ice, things were business as usually as roughly 100 players — divided into five teams — try to earn an invite to the Nordiques’ training camp in September. The opening day roster will be set prior to Oct. 9, when the season is currently scheduled to begin. On Tuesday, scrimmages were played in two halves, which is common in a main camp setting, with the five skaters and a goalie on the ice for each team.

“Everyone was anxious to get out on the ice,” returning forward Isaiah Fox said. “You could see everyone missed the game a lot, it was a high energy game, a lot of hits were being made and everybody was kind of moving.”

Off the ice, the team took precautions. Everyone entering the building — the camp is closed to spectators — needed to sign a waiver and have their temperature checked. Norway Savings Bank Arena has multiple locker rooms, but to follow the 50-person limit, players had to quickly change into their street clothes after the scrimmage so they could leave and the next set of players could get ready in their locker room for the next scrimmage.


Players were unsure if they could leave their equipment in the locker rooms.

“I don’t know if we can,” returning forward Stephen Owens said. “I am probably going to take mine home and air it outside.”

Owens, 20, who is from Midlothian, Virginia, also said he’s accustomed to all the social distancing protocols at rinks because he’s been preparing for the upcoming season this summer.

Prospective Maine Nordiques players arrive at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn on Tuesday morning for the first day of the team’s main camp. Before entering, all of the players signed a waiver outside and had their temperatures taken. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Fox, 20, who’s from Montreal and preparing for his second season, said ice time was difficult to come by this summer.

“Rinks weren’t really open until July,” Fox said. “It was really hard to get onto the ice over there. I think in the beginning of July you had to stay 6 feet apart on the ice. You couldn’t do battle drills. It was completely different training this summer. I wasn’t on the ice until after my birthday (July 5), so the second weekend in July. It was hard getting ice; it was expensive, $40 a session. It was a lot different than if it would have been last summer.”

Overall, Howe said players and parents haven’t been concerned with the safety measures the team has put in place.

“I think we were really responsible going through our process, whether it was guys quarantining, getting their COVID-19 testing — which players and parents had to do if they were traveling from certain states,” Howe said. “We followed all the CDC guidelines, all the local rules, we worked hand-in-hand with the Auburn rink, which they have been tremendous hosts. I can’t say enough about them helping us out. It’s great we all can work together.”

Fox took a flight from Montreal to Boston to get into the United States. His parents wanted him to be safe as possible so he went directly to Lewiston, even though he was scheduled to play in the Beantown Classic — a showcase tournament — in Exeter, New Hampshire, this past weekend.

“My parents really didn’t want me to go because they didn’t want me travelling around the U.S. for the Beantown tournament,” Fox said. “They rather me come to Lewiston. I was suppose to go (to the Beantown Classic) with the (NextGEN AAA Foundation) program, the diversity team.”

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