The Twin City Thunder’s USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference season has been put to a halt before the first puck even dropped.

Thursday’s and Friday’s scheduled games against the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs at Norway Savings Bank Arena, which would have opened the season, have been postponed after Thunder players tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“A couple players called me yesterday, and I said, ’OK, don’t come to the rink and go get tested,’” Thunder head coach and co-owner Dan Hodge said. “The test results came back and they were positive for COVID. We are quarantining them and following the guidelines (set) by the league and the state. I have notified the rink and they are doing their diligence and their deep cleaning.

“So, we are going to see where we are in the next 10 to 14 days. Hopefully everybody gets healthy again — the whole team gets tested weekly, but now they are getting tested again. We will see where the team stands with those tests.”

Hodge has notified the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the positive tests; as of Thursday morning he hadn’t heard back, but he expects he will.

The CDC reported 43 additional COVID-19 cases in Maine on Thursday.


Marc Gosselin, the executive director of Community Partnerships and Sports Tourism for the City of Auburn, which overseas Norway Savings Bank Arena, said the city had a company come in Wednesday night to deep clean the arena, and then the arena’s staff did a secondary cleaning Thursday morning.

Gosselin said the arena is now open.

“The only thing we did was make sure to close the facility overnight, have a cleaning crew come in to make sure they clean thoroughly to get prepared for today,” Gosselin said. “What was nice, we didn’t have any morning skates this morning. So, it’s just waiting for the afternoon (events) to kick in so there was plenty of time (to clean).”

The Thunder may not be the only team with players who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Freelance reporter Mark Divver, who covers hockey in New England, tweeted Wednesday that there were a few NCDC teams who had players test positive, and that Thursday’s game between two Massachusetts-based teams — the Junior Bruins and Islanders Hockey Club that was supposed to be played in Hudson, New Hampshire, was postponed.

A phone call to NCDC Deputy Commissioner Dave Peters went unanswered and, in response to an email to the league office, a league’s spokesman had no comment on the Thunder’s positive tests or on Divver’s tweets.

The schedule on the USPHL’s website shows no games until Oct. 2. The season started on Tuesday when the South Kings defeating the Junior Bruins 3-2 in Hudson in what is the only game that has been played so far.


The Thunder’s next game is scheduled for Oct. 2 against the Utica Jr. Comets in Hudson, but Hodge is unsure if that game or two games in Hudson — against the Jersey Hitmen on Oct. 3 and Connecticut Jr. Rangers on Oct. 4 — will be played.

“We are going to work with the league on that, on what their recommendations are, and see what the CDC recommendation is to put together a game plan,” Hodge said. “Again, at the end of the day we will get our games in some way or somehow, we will make it all work.

“The safety and health of the players, other (teams’) players — I got a wife and young kids and I don’t want to bring this home to my family. I want to make sure the parents who sent their kids to us to take care of them the best as possible — we have to do what is right for the players.”

The league’s protocols state that all USPHL members must follow all federal, state and local guidelines pertaining to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, those regarding travel, facility management and any hockey or sport-related policies. Each organization must print out the applicable COVID-19 guidelines and provide a copy to each general manager, coach, trainer and other team personnel. One printed copy must always be present with the team.

The guidelines:

• Require all players arriving to start the season (first practice, team meeting or other event in which the player arrives to start participating with the organization) to provide written documentation regarding a negative COVID-19 test that was taken no more than three days prior to arrival.


• Require all players and team personnel to take a COVID-19 rapid test within 24 hours of departing on any overnight trip during which the team will be traveling within team buses or vans.

• Upon the determination of any player or team personnel becoming infected with COVID-19, all team players and personnel must get tested for COVID-19 before returning to play.

All USPHL organizations are required to have an action plan to facilitate the transportation and safekeeping of players who become ill or infected with COVID-19. Each USPHL Organization’s plan must include the following:

• A “safe house” at which an ill or infected player may stay and be cared for until recovery and the requisite quarantine period fulfilled.

• A designated driver or process to allow safe and proper transportation of an ill or infected player back to their home, billet family or safe house.

Each organization was required to send their plans to the USPHL office three days before the start of the season.

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