Thunder camp practice skaters participate in a practice drill at at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn on Friday. Mark Gosselin and Coach Dan Hodge look on from the left. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This week the Twin City Thunder capped their training camp this week with the start of the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference season less than two weeks away.

The training camp was different than last month’s main camp, because instead of only watching the players in games, the coaching staff was able to work one-on-one with the 44 players who participated.

“You get to get on the ice and you kind of talk to some of the players and kind of get to know them a little bit, see their tendencies, their attitude and work ethic,” Thunder co-owner and head coach Dan Hodge said. “It’s fun to watch in-person in practice, and then to see it translate in games, to see what you worked on in practice.”

The training camp opened on Sept. 4. The first three days, the players were broken up into two groups, and each group had two hours of practice. After taking Labor Day off, the final three days of camp consisted of the two groups playing a game each day.

The Thunder started training cam with 44 players, but the roster is now at 31 players. There are still cuts to be made by Sept. 21 to get down to a 23-man opening day roster.

Hodge said the 44 players at camp gave the coaching staff some tough decisions.

“They all skated well, they skated hard and competed,” Hodge said. “Some guys are not ready for this level, some guys are. Everybody made the decisions (we had) to make really hard.”

One player that stood out for Hodge was former Saint Dominic Academy standout Dominic Chasse, who mostly played with the Twin City Lightning 18U team last season but did have a brief stint with the NCDC team.

Twin City head coach and co-owner Dan Hodge, right, and Mark Gosselin watch a Thunder practice at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Friday afternoon. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Having a few NCDC games under his belt, Chasse knew what to expect at camp.

“It helped knowing what to expect and how fast-paced it is, really,” Chasse said. “You have to play a little more simple than in the past. The style of play told me what I needed to do.”

Chasse appeared in three games for the Thunder last year, recording no points. He led Lightning with 25 goals and 15 assists in in 27 games.

Chasse focused on improving his strength during the offseason in an effort to make the jump from the 18U level to junior hockey.

“It was getting a lot bigger, a lot stronger, because you are playing against very strong guys,” Chasse said. “Being able to stand your ground is a big (key) in this game.”

Hodge said returner Nick Rashkovsky also had a strong camp. He’s one of three full-time returners from last year’s team, along with fellow forwards Martin Moioffer and John Kondub.

While the Thunder did make cuts after the main camp, they also invited players to training camp who weren’t at main camp for various reasons

Mark Gosselin, left, and Coach Dan Hodge watch a Thunder practice at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Firday afternoon. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

One of those free agents who survived the cuts Thursday was Gabe Potyk, who was injured in August and couldn’t attend main camp. He came to Twin City from the Corpus Christi IceRays organization of the North American Hockey League after the IceRays decided to sit out the 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Goaltender Noah Ping, who was drafted this past June and missed the main camp because he had mononucleosis, is currently dealing with a lower-body injury.

One player the Thunder were hoping to have this season was 17-year-old forward Matus Hadusovsky of Slovakia, who signed a tender with the team but still can’t enter the United States. Hadusovsky committed to American International College this summer, a Division I school the plays in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. He will play this season in Sweden for IF Sundsvall Hockey’s U18 team that plays in the J18 Elit — Sweden’s top U18 league.

Twin City heads to Hudson, New Hampshire, on Saturday for two scrimmages against the Boston Jr. Bruins and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.

The Thunder open the regular season against the Monarchs with a two-game set at the Norway Sayings Bank Arena on Sept. 24-25. Originally the teams were going to open on the 25th, but changes have since been made to the schedule.

CURRENT ROSTER

Goalies: Devon Bobak (free agent), Brendan Gasaway (returning), Connor Leslie (free agent), Noah Ping (draft pick), Cole Shane (free agent).

Defensemen: Richard Colarusso (free agent), Andrew Cole (draft pick), Philip DeCresce (free agent) P.J. Donahue (free agent), Daisuke Egusa (free agent), Jack Gilligan (tender), Joey Potter (tender), Sawyer Smith (tender) Trey Stober (free agent).

Forwards: Justin Angle (draft pick), Sergei Anisimov (free agent), Ben Charboneau (free agent), Dominic Chasse (returner), Nathan Chickering (tender), Tyler Fox (free agent), Luke Kafati (free agent), Dan Klatt (free agent), Roman Kizlo (free agent), John Kondub (returner), Troy Ladka (free agent), Martin Moioffer (returner), Grant Newcomer (draft pick), Gabe Potyk (free agent), David Rankin (draft pick), Nick Rashkovsky (returner), Hunter Schmitz (draft pick).


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