Cam Robichaud coaches the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy U16 team during practice in Lewiston in September. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — Cam Robichaud’s tenure as Maine Nordiques Prep Academy U16 head coach came to an abrupt halt. His secured is next gig in stunningly quick fashion.

On Wednesday evening, he was informed he was being let go from his position because the organization was looking to go in a different direction, which caught Robichaud by surprise. Thursday morning, he was at practice across the Androscoggin River with the Twin Cities’ other junior hockey organization as a member of the Twin City Thunder’s coaching staff.

“There were a couple of players maybe that weren’t happy with ice time, and you see that with every team at every level in the world,” Robichaud, who grew up in Auburn, said. “You are going to have players who want to be first-liners, first power play guys, and they aren’t. They wanted a release (from the Prep Academy) and (ownership) wasn’t in position financially to give them a release, so changes needed to be made, on what I was told.”

Maine Nordiques organization owner Darryl Antonacci issued a statement about letting Robichaud go.

“We wish nothing but the best for Coach Cam Robichaud,” Antonacci said in the statement. “As many know, our U16 and U18 AAA academy teams are the first Tier 1 nationally bound USA hockey tournament programs in Maine, and we are driven to making our hockey school tops in the Nation for (Division I)-bound or higher players.

“We had high hopes employing and investing in Coach Robichaud, who is from the local area, since last April, despite our many COVID obstacles where other organizations were forced into shutdown. Unfortunately, as many times occurs in hockey, organizational shifts also require shifts in the coaching staff.”

Antonacci also said that the Nordiques have hired Doug Rose to coach the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy 16U team. Rose played professionally with the Knoxville Ice Bears of the Southern Professional Hockey League and Hijs Hokij Den Haag in The Netherlands — he also spent time as a coach with the latter.

Robichaud is unsure if his ouster performance based.

“We were about .500, we were 7-8 in our first 15 (games) as a brand-new academy team playing against very high-end U16 teams, top 20 (teams) in the country),” Robichaud said. “I was happy where we were at. For me, it’s always about (player) development, so I was happy where we were trending. The teams that I have had, they have always been better at the end of the year than at the beginning, especially at the 16-year-old age, where it’s really about development. I am unsure if that was the focus by the parents of those players, or even the players. I really loved the kids I had, and I was really enjoying working with them. “

Robichaud, who played at Edward Little High School and Saint Dominic Academy, began his coaching career with the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs’ U18 split-season midget team during the 2011-12 season. He also coached at the U14 level while with the Monarchs before returning to Lewiston to join the L/A Fighting Spirit for the 2015-16 season. The Spirit became the L/A Nordiques in the 2017-18 season. Robichaud was named the head coach and guided the team to the NA3HL Fraser Cup Final in 2018-19.

Last season, he was named the associate head coach of the Maine Nordiques for their inaugural season in the North American Hockey League. This April he became the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy U16 head coach and was also named the organization’s performance coach.

“I built the foundation with others, of course, not just all by myself,” Robichaud said. “I helped built the foundation when they came in and they are looking to expand on now. It’s kind of tough to be the a part of the startup of the Nordiques’ history and then being told they are going to let you go. At the end of the day, it’s about the players and the game itself.”

Head coach Cam Robichaud yells instructions to his players during an L/A Nordiques practice in March 2019. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Robichaud isn’t the first local coach to leave the Nordiques organization. Last month Eric Michaud, who was the organization’s video coordinator, became the head coach of the Maine Eclipse’s Eastern Hockey League’s Premier team and an assistant coach with the Eclipse’s Eastern Hockey League team.

Robichaud wasn’t without a job long following Wednesday’s ouster. He reached out to Twin City Thunder co-owner and NCDC head coach Dan Hodge, who decided to bring Robichaud on board. Robichaud was at the Thunder’s National Collegiate Development Conference practice Thursday morning.

“Things happened over there at the Nordiques yesterday, and he said, ‘I really wanted to be a part of the junior game,’” Hodge said. “I think he brings a lot to the table, especially when it comes to player movement and player acquisitions. It’s good for us.”

Hodge and Robichaud spoke often this summer, whether it was seeing each other while running their own summer hockey programs at Norway Savings Bank Arena or Robichaud reaching out to ask Hodge to take a look at two former L/A Nordiques players, Sergei Anisimov and Daisuke Egusa, for the Thunder’s Tier II-level NCDC team after the L/A Nordiques ceased operations.

Robichaud said he knows roughly half of the Thunder’s NCDC roster.

Hodge and Robichaud also coached against each other in the NA3HL when Hodge ran the Cape Cod Islanders.

“It’s funny, when we first started out, we were adversaries with Cape Cod and the Fighting Spirit,” Hodge said. “It’s funny how the hockey world works, where we are working together and getting to know him more and more, understanding what he’s about, knowing he’s a guy that has the same mindset as us.”

The world came full-circle for Anisimov. Robichaud drafted Anisimov in the 2018 NA3HL draft and will now coach him in his final junior season.

“I was really excited. He skated up to me (in practice) and said, ‘What’s up?’” Anisimov said Friday. “I was like, no way, this guy is going to be coaching with us? I am so happy that he’s here. He’s a great guy, I love him a lot. He’s a great coach on the ice, he’s a great friend off the ice. … I am excited he’s with us.”

Robichaud’s role with the organization isn’t defined quite yet, but Hodge believes Robichaud will help the NCDC team as well as the organization’s Tier III Premier League team.

Robichaud won’t be on the bench for the Thunder’s NCDC season opener Saturday when the Thunder host the Boston Advantage because he has a previous commitment.

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