Jack Strauss, Jackson Vercellono and Caden Pattison are on a forward line together for the Maine Nordiques. The team is headed to Minnesota to play for the NAHL’S Robertson Cup. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The line of Caden Pattison, Jack Strauss and Jackson Vercellono has brought the physicality and skill so far this postseason for the Maine Nordiques.

The trio has combined for five goals, five assists and 38 penalty minutes in eight games.

“Some of their goals they have produced for us (have been) from their ability as much as their presence,” Maine Nordiques associate head coach Matt Pinchevsky said. “They all choose not to sacrifice the use of the body; they will use their body and sacrifice it for the team at any cost to make sure the team has success.”

They have been dubbed the “Hound-Doggs” and will need to bring that blend of skill and physicality this weekend when the Nordiques, the East Division champions, travel to Blaine, Minnesota for a chance to capture the North America Hockey League’s Robertson Cup.

In the best two-of-three semifinals, the Nordiques will take on the South Division champion Shreveport Mudbugs starting Friday at 8:30 p.m. Game 2 is Saturday, also at 8:30, and if necessary, Game 3 would be Sunday at 7 p.m. The Robertson Cup Championship game is Tuesday at 8 p.m. between the Nordiques-Mudbugs winner and the Aberdeen Wings-Minnesota Magicians semifinal series winner. All games can be seen on the subscription service HockeyTV.com.

“We have been playing a lot together. Me and Jack played a lot together last year as well,” Pattison said. “We all understand how to play, keep it simple, and we will have success that way.”

The three started playing together more consistently in the final month of the season when the Nordiques had a three-game sweep of the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks April 16-18.

The coaching staff decided to slide Vercellono in at the center position with Strauss and Pattison on the wings.

“That unit has been really, really good; Vercellono was a late addition to the party, it started out with Tristan Fasig,” Pinchevsky said. “We found some chemistry for (Fasig) on a very potent line with Ignat Belov and Aidan Connolly, but (the Pattison-Vercellono-Strauss) line has been unbelievable with the way they work like dogs. They embrace it and they enjoy it.”

Strauss said Vercellono balances the line out with more of an offensive skill set.

“Our energy matches up really well, me and (Pattison) as wingers, we like to play physical and with (Vercellono) on our line for some soft skill, him winning all the (faceoff) draws and that helps for sure,” Strauss said.

Vercellono came to Lewiston last season a member of the L/A Nordiques of the North American 3 Hockey League when the team acquired him from the North Iowa Bulls. He was then drafted by the Maine Nordiques last summer.

Last year, Vercellono put up 18 goals and 18 assists in 29 games between the L/A Nordiques and the Bulls. He was OK with being on the checking line this season and not on one of the scoring lines. He had four goals and six assists in 41 games this regular season.

“I definitely had to adapt a little bit, I have been more of an offensive player my entire life,” Vercellono said. “This year I have really taken pride in my defensive game, whether that’s winning faceoffs every area of the ice or being a line that rarely gets scored (on). I had to take pride in my defensive game and also adding that physical component.”

All three are at least 6-foot-1 and weigh between 190 and 200 pounds. They will need to use their size and strength against Shreveport, who Pinchevsky said likes to play a physical style of game.

Pinchevsky stated the three have no issue using their strength.

“They all have pretty good frames and I think it’s kind of unassuming where you think, ‘OK, they are big-bodied, are they going to use it?’ They have no issue using it to earn pucks, space out there and they are really hard to play against.”

Strauss, who is in his third season of junior hockey — his second season with the Nordiques — knew if he wanted to move on to college hockey, he figured playing a physical style of game may be the best for him when he was with the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Hockey League in 2018-19.

“Right when I went into junior (hockey) and that’s when I kind of figured out my type of build and my body is made for a more physical type of game and that’s what’s going to get me further (in my hockey career),” Strauss said.

Strauss found the back of the net during the regular season with five goals and 19 assists in 56 games. The 24 points are a career-high in his three seasons of junior hockey.

Pattison, who was one of the first players to sign a tender for the 2019-20 season, literally battled his way onto the inaugural Nordiques roster.

“Caden Pattison kind of utilized his knuckles to get to the (NAHL) and his energy and how good of a teammate he is,” Pinchevsky said. “He has developed and put in the work to become an impact player.”

Pattison had to work his way into the lineup last year, appearing in 26 games, and even played some games with the 18U Maine Nordiques. This year, Pattison nearly doubled the games played with the NAHL Nordiques with 51 games played.

He felt more confident this season.

“A little bit more confidence, a little bit more belief, it seemed like last year I was trying to work my way into the lineup to get an opportunity,” Pattison said. “It seems like I have been given the ability to do more things because the coaches believe me.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Daily Headlines

  • Sign up and get the top stories to begin the day delivered to your inbox at 6 a.m.