AUBURN — Now the hand work begins for Twin City Thunder as they prepare for the 2020-21 USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference season.

Alex Newton takes the puck down the ice with Jack Saavedra giving chase during the Twin City Thunder’s main camp all-star game on Sunday at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

After four days of goalie sessions and six teams playing four games each, the Thunder trimmed their main camp roster by nearly two-thirds and closed their main camp Sunday with an all-star game. Now the organization will evaluate the 40 players who made it to Sunday’s game before trimming the roster to 30 for the start of training camp at the beginning of September.

“I thought today was a great finish to the game, kids made good cases for themselves,” Twin City co-owner and coach Dan Hodge said Sunday. “We have a lot of tough decisions to make.”

Sunday’s game saw Team Black defeat Team Green 4-2 at Norway Savings Bank Arena. Jack Gilligan and Nate Chickering, Sawyer Smith and Hunter Schmitz scored for Team Black. Ben Charboneau and Logan Cochran scored for Team Green.

A few players have worked themselves into contention to make the NCDC team for the upcoming year.

“Justin Angle from the (Pittsburgh) Penguins Elie 18U team had a great camp.” Hodge said. “Joey Potter, another Pens Elite kid from the U16 team, had a great camp. There were a lot of kids and a lot of guys who cemented themselves as a candidate.”

Angle, a forward and draft pick this June, had four goals and eight assists in 49 games with the Penguins Elite 18U team. Potter, a 5-foot-10, 176-pound defender defender who signed a tender with the Thunder during the offseason, tallied eight goals and nine assists in 46 games.

Potter was one of three 2003-born players to make the all-star game. The other two were Dominic Balboni (Springfield Pics) and Ryan Blackburn (Hudsonville High School in Michigan). The rest of 37 players were born in 2002 or before.

John Kondob, who had 11 goals and 24 assists in 44 games last year for the Thunder, was the lone returning player to not make the all-star game.

Hodge said the team is still expecting defensemen Adam Svensson and Oliver Rooth to join the team from Sweden at some point. The same goes for American International College commitment Matus Hadusovsky, when he comes over from Slovakia.

Hodge said he going to select the right players, whether they were at camp last week or not.

“Like we talked about to the players before the game, it’s a competition every day, you got to come in ready to go,” Hodge said. “Again, whatever the right player is, we will put them in there.”

LABRIE JOINS THE COACHING STAFF

Helping Hodge this season with the NCDC team is Caleb Labrie, a 2015 Saint Dominic Academy graduate and former Central Maine Community College, L/A Fighting Spirit and L/A Nordiques standout.

He decided to hang up his skates prior to his senior season at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts, because of a shoulder injury.

“I had full reconstruction of my shoulder after my freshman year, and I could kind of feel it last year when I was playing off and on, being in and out of the lineup just from injuries,” Labrie said. “It just got to a certain point where it got to the end of the road. Once the season got pushed back (because of the coronavirus), I talked about it with (my) college coach, and I felt he could get way more out of a freshman that he would have for four years rather than having me for another semester.”

Labrie’s role hasn’t been defined quite yet as he still has seven classes remaining before getting his degree in business management.

Hodge knew of Labrie when Labrie played for the Fighting Spirit during the 2016-17 NA3HL season and Hodge was the owner and coach of the Cape Cod Islanders, but the two didn’t meet until this summer.

“We met this summer. He was doing some skill work here (at Norway Savings Bank Arena) while my summer camps were going on,” Hodge said. “He helped me out with my camps. He has good knowledge of the game. He knows a lot of people in the area and he has worked with a lot of high school kids as well.”

Labrie has coached youth hockey in the past.

SABRES LEFT SCRAMBLING

One of the first causalities of the coronavirus for the 2020-21 junior hockey season was the Buffalo Junior Sabres’ Ontario Junior Hockey League team suspended operations. The Sabres are the only American franchise in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, which is one of the 10 Canadian Junior A Leagues.

Two players who were part of the Junior Sabres organization were at Twin City Thunder main camp this past week in search of another junior hockey opportunity.

Chandler Kujawa, an Orchard Park, New York native, grew up playing for the Junior Sabres organization, which has midget hockey teams. The defenseman spent majority of last season with the OJHL team, recording two goals and seven assists in 28 games, after starting the season with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the North American Hockey League.

It didn’t take long for coaches to start asking about his services.

“A week after (the Sabers’ decision to suspend operations), I started to get some phone calls from coaches asking what I am doing next year,” Kujawa said. “I had been skating with (Jake Santerilli, who was at Thunder camp), he told me about this opportunity. I was able to get coach (Alex) Drulia (Thunder’s NCDC assistant coach and Premier team head coach) number and called him real quick. I said, ‘Hey, coach I would be honored skate with you guys and show you what I can do.’”

The other Junior Sabers player at the Thunder camp was forward Jack Kinsman. He tallied six goal and 11 assists in 52 games with the Sabres’ 18U team and was planning to try out for the OJHL team this season. The 18-year-old Kinsman has signed to play with the Junior Sabres 18U midget team if he doesn’t make a junior team.

Drulia also played a role of getting Kinsman to Thunder camp once the news hit the Junior Sabres’ OJHL team wouldn’t be playing this year.

“I was at a camp and I saw Drulia there, and he asked me if I wanted to come to (the Thunder’s) main camp,” Kinsman said.

Neither Junior Sabers player made Sunday’s all-star game.

MCMAINS LOOKING FOR A TEAM

Sergei Anisimov and Daisuke Egusa weren’t the lonely former L/A Nordiques players at the Twin City Thunder’s camp this past week. Also there was Bradley McMains, who is still looking for a team for the upcoming season after the L/A Nordiques ceased operations.

After he tried out for the Vermont Lumberjacks of the Tier III Eastern Hockey League and the Boston Junior Bruins organization, the Thunder reached out to the South Portland native.

“I kind of got an email and they told me to tryout,” McMains said. “They said I had a chance to make the NCDC team.”

With the Nordiques last season, the 17-year-old had 12 goals and 24 assists in 37 games.

McMains did not make the Thunder’s all-star game, but hopes he can play for the Maine Nordiques in the North American Hockey League in the future.

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