AUBURN Saturday was business as usual for the Twin City Thunder’s USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference team.

The Thunder took on the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs at Norway Savings Bank Arena, a day after the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced that club and youth sports should shut down until Dec. 7 as part of the state’s updated Community Sports Guidelines.

The Thunder believe that the order wasn’t directed towards them.

“The way I read that order is any teams under the Maine Amateur Hockey Association, and we don’t follow that umbrella,” Thunder co-owner and coach Dan Hodge said.

MEAHA suspended all activities until December following Friday’s announcement, but the governing body for amateur hockey in Maine doesn’t have jurisdiction over junior hockey. The Thunder are a member of the United States Premier Hockey League, which governs itself. Meanwhile, the Maine Nordiques are part of the North American Hockey League.

Even though junior hockey teams have their own leagues, or governing bodies, DHHS spokeswoman Jackie Farwell told the Sun Journal last month that they should be following Maine’s community sports guidelines, the same as youth and club sports.

“The Community Sports Guidance applies to non-professional sports and organizations that organize these sports, including hockey and basketball leagues,” Farwell also said in a statement last month.

Hodge said it still isn’t clear where junior hockey fits into the guidelines.

“What’s a club sport?” Hodge said. “Again, we are back to square one with this conversation. If they tell us to stop, then we will stop.”

THUNDER VICTORIOUS

As for Saturday’s game, the Thunder (3-4-0, 6 points) snapped their three-game losing streak with a 4-2 win. It was the Monarchs’ (5-1-1, 11 points) first loss in regulation this season.

Lewiston native Alex Rivet and Noah Furman each contributed a goal and an assist for the Thunder, and goalie Devon Bobak made 38 saves.

“It was a good team win. That’s a good hockey team and we played hard and competed hard in all different situations,” Hodge said. “We were excited about it and we have to keep the momentum going.”

It was the second time the two teams met this week at Norway Savings Bank Arena, as the Monarchs came away with a 5-4 victory on Tuesday. The teams were supposed to meet Friday at Tri-Town Arena in Hooksett, New Hampshire, but the game was postponed due to ice issues.

Thunder defenseman Joey Potter gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead when the puck was loose in the high-slot and he blasted it by Monarchs goalie Arturs Oganzhanyan (32 saves) four-plus minutes into the game. The goal was set up by Rivet.

The majority of the period was dominated by the Monarchs, and on the 17th shot of the frame, Middlebury College commit Tucker Lamb scored to tie the game with less than four minutes remaining in the opening stanza.

New Hampshire took 21 shots in the period.

“I love to get after it early,” Bobak said of the high number shots he faced in the first. “There was a couple times I was a bit nervous moving around the crease, but the boys kept (pulling) through and we were able to get the win.”

Twin City took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission when Rivet tipped in a shot by Thunder defenseman Jack Gilligan, who recently committed to play at Bowdoin College, in the final minute.

“Going back to the Monarchs, they are a hard-working team, we have to give them credit, they are a hard team to play against every single night,” Rivet said. “They have four lines, six defensemen and they want it every shift. Credit to them, they fought hard when we went up 2-1 on them. Give them credit for coming back and fighting all the way to the end.”

The second period was more back-and-forth, with both teams getting multiple chances.

The Monarchs had four power plays in the middle frame and scored on the third, with Talon Sigursdon in the box for the Thunder. From the left circle, New Hampshire’s Grant Porter sent a pass across the ice to Colton Friesen, who was skating the backdoor and capitalized on having a half-open net to shoot at.

The goal tied the game at 2-2 with just about five minutes remaining in the middle period.

New Hampshire finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Thunder were scoreless on their lone chance.

“Five out of six, that’s pretty good,” Hodge said of Twin City’s penalty kill. “I think that’s our only second power-play goal given up all year. We have worked hard on it and the guys are committed to it. That’s what you need, guys working hard at it.”

Nick Rashkovsky gave the Thunder a 3-2 lead early in the third period when he fired the puck from the high-slot.

Furman added an empty net goal with 22 seconds remaining in the game.

The Thunder are next to scheduled to play Friday at home against the Northern Cyclones at 1 p.m.


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