Nordiques forward Isaiah Fox looks for a teammate to pass as he collects the puck off the boards during the first period of a game in the 2019-20 season at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Maine Nordiques players closed training camp Friday saying they are coming together as team.

The Nordiques spent the week practicing together at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee and working on their game plan for the upcoming North American Hockey League season.

“This week is very good; you get to build camaraderie with the guys, get to know them a little bit, then bring it into a game,” forward Aidan Connolly said. “You don’t get to practice with them at main camp; here you get to practice with your linemates and put that (chemistry) together and work on the systems that we have been working on.”

Connolly and his linemates were clicking during Friday’s scrimmage, combining on all three of Team Blue’s goals in a 6-3 loss to Team Red. Connolly, who signed a tender in signed a tender with the Nordiques the offseason and has committed to play at Sacred Heart University, scored two goals Friday, while Auburn native Reese Farrell, who was selected in the North American Hockey League supplemental draft this summer, scored the for Team Blue.

The pair has prior experience playing together, with the Neponset River Rats 16U split-season team during the 2016-17 season.

They believe there’s inherent chemistry among the New England prep school players. Connolly played at Dexter Southfield School and Farrell at North Yarmouth Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Massachusetts. The third member of the line was Tyler Gaulin, who played at Berwick Academy.

“Me and (Aidan) played a long time ago when we played (together) with the River Rats,” Farrell said. “Obviously, playing in (Massachusetts), it’s a small world so you start to get to know everybody and build relationships. It’s kind of cool when you come here and you get to play with a bunch of guys or play against a bunch of guys that you used to go to battle with.”

Nordiques head coach Nolan Howe has nicknamed the line the “prep line,” but it’s uncertain if the three will start the season together. Howe believes all three can play with anyone on the roster.

Saint Dominic Academy’s Reese Farrell, left, ties up a Lewiston player in the corner during a game in 2016 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Farrell is taking part in the Maine Nordiques main camp this week. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“They played well together, but I think they are going to play well with anybody as we continue work through our roster, or lines and different things like that, because they are intelligent hockey players, they compete very hard,” Howe said. “A lot of what we do is based off guys who think the game well, and those guys have tremendous hockey IQ and tremendous skill sets to compliment their outstanding character.”

Leading Team Red on Friday was familiar face Isaiah Fox, who scored two goals. He was on the same line as fellow returning players Cannon Green and Stefan Owens. The three played alongside each other last season.

“I love playing with them,” Fox said. “They find me and I find them. It was good.”

Howe thought the returning players’ line got better at the end of the week after a slow start.

“I think they would be the first ones to tell you, Wednesday, they didn’t get the results they were looking for, and I think part of that is due to the competition they were facing,” Howe said. “I think those are the type of young men that love a challenge and they were (really strong) the last two days of camp. They showcased this afternoon why they were such tremendous pieces of our inaugural season and why we are so excited to have them back for their second season.”

Green also scored in the victory, as did forward Jack Kurrle, a University of Vermont commit, defenseman Kadsen Johnson and forward Donte Pierre.

Howe said he was pleased with Farrell and Lewiston native Sam Frechette.

Sam Frechette, played in seven games with the Maine Nordiques last season. Ron Morin photo

“Those guys are working really hard,” Howe said. “Reese came in terrific shape, and Sam (as well). I know those guys have trained really hard with (Maine Nordiques Prep Academy U16) coach Cam (Robichaud) and (Maine Nordiques associate head coach) Matt Pinchevsky in the offseason. You can tell they are all in, in attacking this process. They are guys we used draft picks and tenders on and so they are going to have every opportunity here to continue to compete for a spot on the team.”

Frechette said he has received from feedback from the coaching staff throughout the week as he tries to make the team full-time this season.

“It was always positive feedback,” Frechette said. “When you did something wrong, they would tell you what you did and how to correct that and if you did something well, they would commend you on it.”

This is the second year Frechette attended the NAHL training camp. The 2019 Lewiston High School graduate was cut last year and spent most of the season with the L/A Nordiques, though he did have a short stint with the Maine Nordiques.

Now that training camp is over, players are itching to play games, but the NAHL East Division isn’t scheduled to drop the puck until Oct. 9.

“With the season already gotten backed up, everybody is already itching to play,” Farrell said. “It kind of sucks (the season is delayed). At the same time, they are putting in precautions so we can have the best season. As much as it sucks to play the waiting game a little bit, it gives us more time to prepare.”

NEWS AND NOTES

The Springfield Jr. Blues decided this week to sit out the season because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so on Thursday the league held a dispersal draft. The Nordiques had the No. 1 pick and selected Jon Panisa, a 5-foot-9, 141-pound forward who has committed to play at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The 19-year-old Irvine, California native had 11 goals and 18 assists in 35 games with the Jr. Blues. He also appeared in 10 games with Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, the lone Tier I junior hockey league under the USA Hockey umbrella.

• The Nordiques are still waiting on three players from Europe to join the team: defenseman Casper Soderling and forward Filip Lofdahl from Sweden, University of Connecticut forward Ignat Belov from Belarus.

Meanwhile, Jake Suede, a Nordiques selection in the dispersal draft of Corpus Christi IceRays players, is still with the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League, and forward Makem Demers is still recovering from an injury he suffered last season.

• The Nordiques also brought in free agent goaltender Tyriq Outen to camp. Outen has experience in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from playing with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan during the 2018-19 season. The 20-year-old Tampa, Florida native played with the Grand Falls Rapids of the Maritime Hockey League — one of the 10 Junior “A” leagues under the Hockey Canada umbrella — last season.


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