The North American Hockey League announced on Wednesday the Board of Governors extended the regular season until May 16, 2021, regaining some of the games lost earlier in the season due to COVID-19.

The Maine Nordiques season is scheduled to end on April 24, but they had several games in the month of November postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The postponements started on Election Day with the home game against the Danbury Jr. Hat Trick. An away game on Nov. 11 was postponed. Two more home games against the Jr. Hat Tricks were also postponed prior to Thanksgiving. Home games against the Maryland Black Bears were postponed along with a road game against the Northeast Generals was also postponed.

Those games haven’t been officially rescheduled. There is nearly a month break from Jan. 31 to Feb. 25 where the Nordiques don’t have any games scheduled.

The Nordiques did play seven games at home in December.

Another reason for extending the regular season was in reaction to the NCAA Division I recruiting dead period being extended to April 24th.

“This decision was made in the best interest of our players,” NAHL Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld said in a new release. “We wanted all of our teams to have the maximum amount of opportunity to provide NAHL Hockey to as many players as possible in order to develop, play, and be exposed to NCAA and NHL scouts. This extension allows more time for NCAA coaches to evaluate the players and also allows more time for player development that have been disrupted this season by shutdowns and rescheduling due to schedule interruptions caused by COVID-19.”

The opening round of the NAHL divisional playoffs will be held May 20-30 with a five-game series. The Nordiques (11-6-0, 22 points) sit in first place in the East Division with a three point lead over the Johnstown Tomahawks (8-3-3) and Black Bears (8-4-3) who each have 19 points.

Dates and locations for league events such as the NAHL Showcase, NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, and Robertson Cup National Championship have yet to be determined.

PHWA TO SEND ALL-STAR TEAM TO USPHL’S HUB CITY

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) will send an all-star team to Tampa, Florida to take part in a portion the United States Premier Hockey League’s Hub City event from Jan. 4-18. The all-stars will take on some teams in the USPHL’s Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference.

The schedule hasn’t been finalized just yet so it’s unclear if the Twin City Thunder will be one of the teams taking part in an exhibition game.

The PHWA in Tampa Bay will contain players from both the New Hampshire and Minnesota Regional Training Hubs. Some players taking part include USA Olympic team standouts Gigi Marvin, Brianna Decker and Amanda Kessel.

This will be the second event the PHWPA has taken part with the USPHL in, as they played some exhibition games against NCDC teams in September.

The PWHPA is made up of a group of women’s players who came together after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ceased operations in the spring of 2019. The goal of the organization is to promote a single, viable women’s hockey league.

In addition to the PWHPA, there’s also the National Women’s Hockey League, which has six teams in Boston, Buffalo, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey and Toronto.

FORMER MAINE NORDIQUES FORWARD COMMITS  TO WENTWORTH

Vincent DeSanctis, who played 13 games with the Maine Nordiques in the 2019-20 season, will play his college hockey at Division III Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston next season.

The 20-year-old Howard Beach, N.Y. native, who signed a tender in the spring of 2019 with the Nordiques, had a goal and an assist in his time with the Nordiques before finishing the season with the Odessa Jackelopes (three assists in 21 games), also of the NAHL.

DeSanctis started the season with the PAL Junior Islanders of the NCDC, where he appeared in five games and recorded no points. He has since joined the Seahawks Hockey Club of the USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier III Eastern Hockey League and has put up two goals and 10 assists in 14 games.

“I would like to thank my family and everyone along the way who has supported me to get to this point in my career,” DeSanctis said in an EHL news release. “I also would like to thank the entire coaching staff and the Seahawks Organization for their outstanding support throughout this whole process. I’m excited to be a Leopard for the next 4 years.”

WORLD JUNIORS HAVE BEGUN

The International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Junior Championships got underway Christmas Day in Edmonton, Alberta.

While there are no local connections this year like in 2004 when Lisbon’s Greg Moore played on Team USA’s first gold medal-winning team, there are two American players — Brendan Bisson and Sam Colangelo — who were coached by Moore last year with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. That was before Moore left to take the head coaching position with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

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