Tyler Gaulin with the puck trying to beat a Northeast Generals player on Oct. 9 Ron Morin Photo

Tyler Gaulin felt at home when he toured the University of Maine campus last year. On Monday, the Maine Nordiques’ 18-year-old forward verbally committed to play for the Black Bears, starting in the 2022-23 season.

“I loved everything when I toured there, it was all pretty surreal, (the entire) coaching staff is professional,” Gaulin said. “They care about their players more than just hockey players, that’s a big part of being on a team for me.

“They were (very) professional and everything about Maine is pretty high-tech.”

Gaulin said he plans to major either in business or engineering.

The Kingston, New Hampshire native, who grew up cheering for the University of New Hampshire, is off to a fast start in his first full season with the Maine Nordiques, tallying two goals and five assists in four games. His seven points ranks second in the North American Hockey League, one point behind Clayton Cosentino of the Aberdeen Wings.

Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said that Gaulin has enormous potential as a hockey player.

“It’s a great accomplishment, but at the same time, he still has high aspirations for himself as far as playing in the North American Hockey League and what he can contribute to this team,” Howe said. “He’s more a chess player as far as the way he thinks things. I think for him, this is a great step, but he’s just scratching the surface of the player he’s driven to be.”

Tyler Gaulin of the Maine Nordiques committed to the University of Maine on Monday. Gaulin is in his first full season with the Maine Nordiques of the North American Hockey League. Ron Morin Photo

Gaulin played last season for Berwick Academy and led the team with 21 goals and 27 assists in 29 games with the Bulldogs. After his season ended at Berwick, he signed a tender with the Maine Nordiques in March and sc0red two goals in two games.

Gaulin said that his fast start to this season is due to the teammates around him.

“I never had played with players this high-caliber, so it’s definitely been a good transition for me,” Gaulin said. “The players are definitely stronger, faster — everything about it is better. My teammates are heads and shoulders (above) what I am used to. I played with some great players at Berwick, but having teammates to rely on is huge.”

Gaulin said that besides UMaine, there were four or five other schools that were seriously interested in him. Most of them wanted to see how well he made the transition from prep school to the junior hockey level. He said the Black Bears coaching staff stayed in constant contact with him for the past year-and-a-half.

Gaulin is the second Nordiques player in the club’s two-year history to commit to play at the University of Maine. Connor Androlewicz, the first player to sign a tender with the Nordiques in team history, committed to the Black Bears for the 2020-21 season on the same weekend in March 2019 that he signed with the Nordiques.

The Nordiques have had one other player commit to an NCAA Division I school: Noah Kane, who signed to play at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. Last season, the Nordiques acquired two players who had already committed Division I programs, Ignat Belov (University of Connecticut) and Andrius Kulbis-Marino (Sacred Heart University).

Howe said that he believes even more Division I schools will take a look at the Maine Nordiques players this year. They tendered two Division I commits in the offseason in Aidan Connolly (Sacred Heart) and Jack Kurrle (University of Vermont). Both are in the organization: Connolly is on Gaulin’s line on the NAHL team, while Kurrle is on the Maine Nordiques Prep Academy 18U team.

“Last year was our inaugural year, I think colleges wanted to figure out what we were about,” Howe said. “I think as we continue to prove ourselves, as an organization, I think more and more people will take notice of our players. I think we play a game that translates well to the next level.”


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