New Twin City Thunder co-owner Cam Robichaud runs a drill with players during a PucDevelopment training session last month at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Cam Robichaud saw an opportunity to help the Twin City Thunder grow.

The Auburn native, who was hired as an assistant coach with the Thunder’s National Collegiate Development Conference team last October, is now joining Dan Hodge as co-owner of the organization, which includes the Tier II NCDC team and Tier III Premier team.

“I really enjoy working with Dan and with Alex Drulia (the Premier team head coach) and Caleb Labrie (NCDC team assistant coach). The four of us have a good connection with each other and work well (together), and we were successful this year,” Robichaud said. “I see a lot of opportunities to continue to grow with the program with Dan through our partnership. I am excited to get hockey back on track as a full, normal season next year to build the Thunder.”

In April, former St. Dom’s standout Ben Gray, who founded the Twin City Thunder with Dan Hodge in 2017, sold his stake in the team to Hodge because Gray no longer had the time required to help run the organization.

Hodge said that Robichaud’s reputation in the Twin Cities area will be an asset to the Thunder.

“The best thing about Cam is he’s full of energy, he’s excited and when he came over for the opportunity with us, he was very excited, very all-in kind of thing,” Hodge said. “It was very easy to kind of integrate him. A lot of guys know who he is, he has a great name in the Lewiston-Auburn area, a lot of people respect him. He’s a guy who’s really approachable type of guy. Our players brought him right in, and that’s why you have your Alex Rivets, guys from the area that who knew who he was.”

Rivet, a Lewiston native, played for Robichaud with the L/A Nordiques during their North American 3 Hockey League Fraser Cup playoff run at the end of the 2018-19 season, and for the Maine Nordiques during the 2019-20 season when Robichaud was an assistant coach. After being released by the Nordiques in January 2020 and finishing the season in Manitoba, Rivet played for the Utica Comets of the NCDC at the start of the 2020-21 season before joining the Thunder around the same time as Robichaud last October.

Other players who played for Robichaud with either the L/A Nordiques or Maine Nordiques and for the Thunder’s NCDC team in 2020-21 include Sergei Anisimov, Valeri Rykov and Tristan Thibeault.

Robichaud said that remaining in Auburn-Lewiston is important.

“I am not someone who is trying to chase the next job or a job (at a higher level of hockey),” Robichaud said. “My family is my number one priority and my family lives here (in Lewiston-Auburn), my grandparents are here, my in-laws are here, and my wife and two boys. This is our home and the opportunity to live five minutes away from the rink, having my (PucDevelopment business) and now having a stake in the Thunder, allows me to continue to have my family to be number one.”

Hodge said he needed a co-owner since, with two teams, running the organization isn’t a one-person job.

Hodge will remain the general manager of the organization and head coach of the NCDC team, and Robichaud will continue his roles NCDC assistant coach, strength coach and director of player personnel.

“It’s a machine, it really is; you have to keep it going, especially at the Tier II level,” Hodge said. “Owning a Tier III team is one thing, but having a Tier II and a Tier III (team), and kind of moving things along and being successful not only financially but also on the ice. It’s too big for any one person to run. Again, Cam has been doing this a long time and he’s a good guy to be in a partnership with.”

The partnership is interesting, Hodge said, considering he and Robichaud were rivals in the NA3HL only a few years ago.

“I owned the (Cape Cod) Islanders in the (NA3HL) and Cam had the L/A Nordiques,” Hodge said. “It’s funny how the hockey world runs. One day you are adversaries and the next day your partners. It’s an interesting dynamic.”

Cam Robichaud shares a laugh with players last month during a PucDevelopment training session at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Robichaud’s past 14 months have been busy and filled with change. First, he transitioned from being the associate head coach with the Maine Nordiques’ NAHL team to head coach of the Maine Nordiques Academy 16U in May 2020. In October, he was let go from his head coaching duties with the 16U team and then quickly joined the Thunder organization.

In addition to switching junior hockey organizations, he opened a new space for PucDevelopment, which is now the training facility for the Thunder.

Despite all of the changes, Robichaud is grateful for how everything has turned out.

“To be honest, it was a hectic year, but I think it was hectic for everyone,” Robichaud said. “COVID obviously made scheduling very different in a hockey season and, obviously, I was with organization and now in a much larger role with the Thunder. It was a crazy year, but I feel fortunate, my entire year was involved working with hockey players and being a part of the game that I love and not having a drastic delay from one job to the next, (which) can happen in this industry.”

MAINE GLADIATORS PARTNERSHIP

Earlier this year, Hodge, Robichaud and Caleb Labrie entered a partnership with the Maine Gladiators — the youth hockey organization that plays at Norway Savings Bank Arena — to add two Tier I USA Hockey teams for players born in 2008 and 2009.

The new 12U and 13U Tier I teams will be called the Twin City Gladiators and will be separate from the Tier II Maine Gladiators youth program.

“We went to the Gladiators and said, ‘Hey, there’s no Tier I component to your program and we would like to start that,” Hodge said. “They are gracious enough for us to be a part of it under the ownership of Cam, Caleb and myself.”

The trio hopes the two teams will only be the start for the Tier I program.

“It seemed like we had the most talent and numbers (of players) in this area in those two birth years,” Robichaud said. “I know a lot of players in my time in Lewiston working with the youth, and a lot of those players continue to train at the PucDevelopment training facility and (I) have relationships with these families. So, it was a seamless transition, and those two birth years that jumped up. We would like to grow, but slowly, we don’t want to take on too much; if we can jump to three or four teams the following season, that’d be great.”

Former Lewiston High School standout Matt Poulin will coach the team of players born in 2008, and former Edward Little boys hockey coach Brett Barrett will coach the 2009 team. Poulin and Labrie were teammates on the Central Maine Community College hockey team in 2016-17.

The Twin City Gladiators players will have a similar schedule to the junior teams, with three practice sessions and two off-the-ice training sessions per week. They will play roughly 60 games each year, between games in the Eastern Junior Elite Prospect League, showcases and non-league games.

Hodge, Labrie and Robichaud will run the off-the-ice training programs between PucDevelopment and Hodge Hockey, which Hodge runs.

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.