Stefan Owens of the Maine Nordiques fires a shot on goal during a game against the Johnstown Tomahawks in April 2021 in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Stefan Owens joined the Maine Nordiques with the intent to earn a Division I opportunity.

The forward made the inaugural Nordiques team in 2019-2020 as an undrafted free agent. During the 2020-21 regular season, his second season with the team, he led the Nordiques in scoring with 24 goals and 27 assists in 56 games.

That second-season production has helped him secure a spot in the the University of Massachusetts Lowell men’s hockey program. The River Hawks are a NCAA Division I team that plays in Hockey East.

“I just wanted to get as good as I can. (Division I) was a goal in the back of my mind and I achieved it,” Owens said.

Nordiques coach Nolan Howe knew Owens was poised to breakout during his final season of junior hockey after he put up 12 goals and 10 assists in 54 games in 2019-20.

“He was primed, he put in the work in the offseason, he put in the work (last season) and really came back focused, determined not only to get his scholarship, which he has earned, but to lead this team to our success,” Howe said.

The 21-year-old Owens has been a key part of the Nordiques’ power play and penalty kill, along with taking faceoffs. Howe said that he believes Owens’ confidence and skating improved this season.

Owens’ focus last year, his first season of Tier II junior hockey, was to grow and gain as much knowledge and experience as possible.

“My goal was to get a lot stronger; I learned a lot last year through my own self, and obviously my teammates were pretty helpful, too. I just wanted to take what I learned and elevate it,” Owens said.

Maine Nordiques’ Stefan Owens looks for a teammate to pass to as Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks’ Adam Shuchart defends during an April 2021 game in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Before joining the Nordiques, Owens, a Midlothian, Virginia native, played Tier III junior hockey for three seasons with the Richmond Generals of the United States Premier Hockey League.

Owens didn’t want the news of his commitment to get out during the playoff series with the New Jersey Titans, which the Nordiques won the series with a Game 5 victory on Sunday.

“I just wanted to keep the focus on the team and winning the series,” Owens said after Game 5. “But stuff slips out, it happens, it’s OK.”

Owens scored twice and added three assists in the five-game series with the Titans.

The Nordiques will next face the Maryland Black Bears in the NAHL East Division final.

“Hard work pays off,” Howe said. “He has been a leader for us all season long, on and off the ice. We couldn’t be prouder. A testament to him, he didn’t want anybody to know about (the commitment), he just wanted to stay focused on the team aspect of things. That just speaks to the character of that young man.”

Schools starting to show interest in Owens at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. Owens said associated head coach Matt Pinchevsky played a critical role in connecting him with the River Hawks’ coaching staff. Owens said he had good conversations with those coaches, and he likes the wide range of majors the school offers since he’s undecided on what he will study.

Owens becomes the seventh player on the Nordiques NAHL roster to be commit to play at a Division I school. He is the third join a Hockey East team after Tyler Gaulin, who committed to the University of Maine and Ignat Belov, who is heading to the University of Connecticut.

The other four players committed to a Division I schools are Patrick Schmiedlin (Colorado College), Isaiah Fox (Long Island University), Aidan Connolly (Sacred Heart University), and Reese Farrell (Army).

DIVISION FINAL SCHEDULE

The schedule for best-of-five NAHL East Division Final schedule between the No. 2 seed Maine Nordiques and No. 4 Maryland Black Bears was announced Tuesday.

The Nordiques will host Games 1 and 2 at The Colisee on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. both nights. The series shifts to Maryland for Game 3 on June 10 and Game 4 (if necessary) on June 11 — both games at 6:30 p.m. If a Game 5 is needed, it will be in Lewiston on June 13 at 7 p.m.

Tickets for Nordiques home games cost $5 at the door. Kids who wear their youth jerseys get in free.


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