There was no one specific need for the Maine Nordiques during the North American Hockey League’s Entry Draft on Wednesday, with the Nordiques instead selecting four defensemen, two forwards and a goaltender.

The team only made seven picks in the 20-round draft, with 23 players already on the organization’s 30-man protected list prior to the draft.

“We tried to add to our depth, acquire talent, we made picks for different reasons,” Maine Nordiques coach Nolan Howe said. “Whether it’s impact (players), whether it’s guys we want to see progress through the (Maine Nordiques) Academy. We utilized the draft in many different ways, depending on the situation.”

Howe made it clear the organization wants another deep playoff run after reaching the NAHL semifinals in June.

With the 20th-overall pick in the first round, the Nordiques selected Norwegian-born Filip Wiberg. The 18-year-old forward recorded no points this season in 15 games with Skelleftea AIK J20 of the Swedish J20 Nationell league. He also appeared in two games with Ringerike of Norway’s second league.

Wiberg also has international experience playing with Norway’s U16 national team in 2017-18.

“He’s one of the top players from his country, he has played on a big stage a lot in his career,” Howe said. “He’s excited to come over to North America and play North American hockey and we think he plays a mature game. We look forward to adding him and he’s a guy we expect to contribute right off the hop.”

After having no picks in the second or third rounds, the Nordiques selected defenseman Zac Correia from the Richmond Generals of the United States Premier Hockey League’s Premier League in the fourth round. The 19-year-old defenseman from Brampton, Ontario had nine goals and 30 assists in 44 games this past season.

Richmond is the same organization the University of Massachusetts-Lowell bound Stefan Owens played for before joining the Nordiques in 2019-20, along with former defenseman Ethan Prout.

“(Correia) is a solid puck-mover, he plays into our transition game really well,” Howe said. “We have had success with (the Richmond Generals) in the past, with our other players like Ethan Prout and Stefan Owens. It’s a continued tradition of getting players that can help us down the road.”

Bryce Bollman, a forward, was selected in the fifth round. He played for Kimball Union Academy this past season. The Nordiques selected teammate Liam Walsh in the supplemental draft in June and signed another teammate Zach Whitehead to a tender this spring. In the sixth round, another Wildcat was draft by the Nordiques in defenseman Lucas Constantine.

Kimball Union is another program the Nordiques trust. Kimball Union is coached by former University of Maine men’s coach Tim Whitehead.

“We like our relationship with the school with the young men we are getting from that program,” Howe said. “It’s a testament to them and their staff; the kind of players they recruit and develop. It kind of worked out that way and we were kind of laughing as a staff but at the end of the day we added some good pieces.”

The Nordiques selected defenseman Spencer Bellina from the Connecticut Jr. Rangers with their first of two seventh-round picks. With the other seventh-round pick, the Nordiques selected 17-year-old defenseman Peyton Van Buskirk. Van Buskirk is a player who will have every opportunity to make the NAHL team, Howe stated, but it’s a possibility he plays for the Maine Nordiques Academy 18U team this year.

Goaltender Noah Grannan was drafted in the eighth round. He has experience in the United States Hockey League — the lone Tier I junior hockey in the USA — with the Sioux Falls Stampede and the United States National Team Development Program. He’s committed to the University of Wisconsin.

Howe said Grannan is a top-flight goalie and brings depth to the goaltending position by adding to the organization.

Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal reported in June that Grannan will be joining the Wisconsin hockey team in the fall of 2022. According to Sioux Falls coach Marty Murray in Milewski’s report, Grannan is also recovering from hip surgery.

The Nordiques will potentially see some of the draft picks at The Colisee this weekend with the team’s main camp starting Friday afternoon and running through Sunday.

There will be roughly 80 players at camp this weekend.

“We know a lot of the players coming in, but it will be good to get them all in one environment against one and each other,” Howe said. “It will help us with our process as we narrow it down to training camp (later this summer).”

NORDIQUES SIGN TENDERS BEFORE DRAFT

The Nordiques signed two players in the past two weeks.

On Tuesday, the team signed 19-year-old Koby Howat of the Philadelphia Little Flyers 18U team. The 5-foot-10, 181-pound native of Honey Brook, Pennsylvania had five goals and four assists in 11 Atlantic Youth Hockey League games while adding three assists in eight North American Prospects 18U games. In the NAPHL playoffs, he had four goals and two assists in six games.

The signing fulfills the Nordiques requirement to sign a tender from the NAPHL 18U league.

Maine also signed 18-year-old, 5-foot-9, 171-pound forward Sean Kenny of the Alexandria Blizzard. The signing fills the requirement to sign a player out of the North American 3 Hockey League. With the Blizzard, the Sparta, New Jersey native had 10 goals and 18 assists in 39 games this past season.

“It brings more depth and I think they are guys we identified, whether it’s goal-scoring, add a little toughness, guys who compete really well,” Howe said of Howat and Kenny. “We like to bring a lot of competition to our camp, whether it’s our main camp we got this weekend or training camp. No one’s job in our organization is safe. … We like competition, we think it brings out the best in players. Those are guys that are going to push some of our returners, some of our other tenders and draft picks.”

A tender is a contract that gives a team a player’s NAHL rights, and the player cannot be drafted or signed by another NAHL team. The player, however, can sign with another team in another junior league.

OTHER LOCAL CONNECTIONS DRAFTED

Wednesday’s NAHL Entry Draft saw a few Twin City Thunder connections also drafted and one Mainer selected.

Thunder forward Hunter Schmitz went in the 10th round to the Anchorage Wolverines. The Anchorage, Alaska native had six goals and five assists in 26 games with the Thunder’s National Collegiate Development Conference team.

Former Twin City Thunder forward Daniels Murnicks was selected in the second round by the St. Cloud Norseman. The 19-year-old forward spent the 2020-21 in his home country of Latvia, including 14 games with HS Riga, scoring seven goals and notching three assists. With Mogo HK, he had four goals and three assists in 14 games. He added three goals in six playoff games. He was on the inaugural Thunder NCDC team in 2019-20, scoring 10 goals and adding 13 assists in 38 games.

Defenseman Owen Simmonds, drafted in the spring by the Thunder, went in the fifth round to the Kenai Brown Bears.

Former Thunder tender Matus Hadusovsky was selected in the sixth round by the North Iowa Bulls.

Scarborough native Zander Lizotte was selected in the eighth round by the Minnesota Wilderness. The 19-year-old defenseman had three goals and 15 assists in 34 games with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs of the NCDC in 2020-21.

Defenseman Shawn McEwen was selected fifth overall by the Corpus Christi Ice Rays. The 17-year-old suited up in the final two regular season games for the Nordiques this season. Since he wasn’t on the Nordiques’ 30-man protected list and played less than 10 games this season, he was eligible for the draft.

MUDBUG COMMITS TO UMAINE

This week, defenseman David Breazeale of the Shreveport Mudbugs announced his commitment to the University of Maine for next season.

The 20-year-old native of Jension, Michigan helped the Mudbugs capture the NAHL Robertson Cup with a 4-2 win over the Aberdeen Wings. In the semifinals, the Mudbugs defeated the Nordiques in a two-game sweep. He had five goals and 16 assists in 54 games in the regular season while adding a goal and four assists in the playoffs.


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