AUBURN — The Twin City Thunder tryout process begins Thursday with the start of their main camp, but two of the organization’s coaches have already developed a familiarity with some of the prospective players.

Thunder assistant coaches Cam Robichaud and Caleb Labrie worked with a handful of the players this summer through their hockey-specific training facility PucDevelopment in Lewiston while running on-ice sessions at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

Now those players are among the approximately 120 who will be vying for spots on either the Thunder’s Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference team or Tier III Premier League team at the main camp, which runs through Sunday.

Robichaud said that the players he and Labrie worked with the past few months now need to show they can apply what they learned to game situations over four days a Norway Savings Bank Arena.

There will be two goalie sessions Thursday afternoon, but the majority of the main camp will consists of games Friday and Saturday. The camp wraps up with an all-star game Sunday morning.

“This is a lot of development work, skill stuff, working on (your) hands, edge work (with your skates), the ability to shoot (the puck) in stride, just trying to get your skills honed in for the upcoming season,” Robichaud said Tuesday after a PucDevelopmental training session. “But, in a tryout situation, it’s all game play. You want to take the development you had over the summer and the skills you are working on to improve and add a compete level with those skills.”

Robichaud’s summer training isn’t limited to Thunder players. He also works with players from different junior hockey organizations, like the Maine Nordiques and the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, as well as athletes who are getting ready to play hockey in high school, prep school or college.

Training with PucDevelopment doesn’t necessarily improve a player’s chance to make the Thunder’s roster.

“Obviously, me being a (Twin City Thunder) co-owner with Dan (Hodge), we have to make decisions on what’s best for the Thunder organization,” Robichaud said. “That’s a conversation I have with the players that I work with that will be coming to (the Thunder) tryouts: ‘Just because you work with me in the summer, doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a spot on the team.’”

Some of the players at Tuesday’s PucDevelopment training session who will be attending the Thunder’s camp include Lewiston High School defenseman Damon Bossie as well as defenseman Ryan Hintz, forward Jack Kinsman, forward Jack Rose and forward Michael Marquez.

Hintz said that he realizes that he isn’t going to get preferential treatment from the Thunder coaching staff at the main camp.

“It will be a little bit of a change, but (the coaching staff) will give everybody a fair opportunity,” Hintz. “I know it doesn’t matter if you are drafted or tendered. Everyone has a chance, and everyone knows that.”

Hintz, a Rockford, Illinois native who played for the Chicago Mission 18U team last year, spent the past four months training with PucDevelopment after being tendered by the Thunder this past spring. He decided to spend the summer training in the Auburn-Lewiston area because there isn’ta training facility like PucDevelopment where he lives.

Hintz also was selected in the United States Hockey League’s Phase II Draft by the Sioux City Musketeers in May and by the Chippewa Steel in the North American Hockey League Supplemental Draft in June.

Kinsman, another player the Thunder tendered this offseason, will be making his second appearance at main camp, as he also tried out in 2020. The 19-year-old from Orchard Park, New York, has been training with PucDevelopment since Aug. 1.

He said he came to Lewiston-Auburn to train because he wanted to learn from different coaches.

“I really felt like it would be the best for my development, after being in Buffalo for 19 years,” Kinsman said. “It was a good change of scenery to get more experience with new coaches.”

The experience that Robichaud and Labrie have plays a factor in choosing to train with them, according to Bossie.

“It’s great, honestly, they have a lot of experience, they know what they are talking about,” Bossie said. “It’s great to learn from them.”

Bossie, who will be a senior this upcoming school year, skated with the Thunder at the USPHL Summer Showcase in July and had an impressive showing.

“He’s moving well right now,” Robichaud said. “I see a little bit of a different intensity out of him. He’s a player with tremendous stick skills and he’s a big boy. He’s a 2004 birth year. I don’t think he knows how much potential he could have within this junior (hockey) world because he hasn’t played in it yet. He’s getting an eye-opening experience on what juniors is all about this summer in a couple of showcase (tournaments) and the upcoming camp. It will be great for his growth and development. I am really excited to watch him play this weekend.”

Robichaud said the players he has trained with this summer have put a lot of time and effort into making one of the Thunder teams.

“They are a bunch of great kids and they have worked hard. I’d love to see them earn opportunities to be on the NCDC team for the upcoming season,” Robichaud said. “Dan and I were talking on the phone (Monday) night and we were like two little kids getting ready for Christmas, (the season is) coming soon.

“We are excited about the group we have coming in. … We have a younger corps of guys coming in, with great speed and skill. I am excited to build a new group (of players) after having a successful season and moving a lot of guys to (college hockey).”

PASKOWSKI AND SIMMONS UPDATE

Owen Paskowski, a 17-year-old defenseman who played 12 games with the Thunder before the start of his prep school season with Cushing Academy in  Ashburnham, Massachusetts, has decommitted from Colorado College — a Division I school that plays in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference — according to New England Hockey Journal’s Mark Divver.

Robichaud said Paskowski, who was a junior at Cushing last year, will be in Auburn this weekend for the Thunder’s main camp.

Another 17-year-old defenseman, Owen Simmons, who was drafted by the Thunder in May, is still deciding what to do in the immediate future. He’s attending the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s rookie camp this week. The Armada selected him in the 2020 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft.

Robichaud maintains regular contact with Simmons.

“I have been in contact with him, and we will see if … the (Armada) choose to take him, if he decides to go the major junior route,” Robichaud said. “If not, I have been in contact with him — earlier on with him (and) as of late with his adviser — there may be a trip happening from Canada to Maine relatively soon for him.”

FURMAN COMMITS TO LAKE FOREST

The Twin City Thunder NCDC team’s leading scorer in 2020-21 Noah Furman will attend and play at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest Illinois this fall. The 20-year-old scored seven times and added 21 assists in 30 games.

“I had reached out to them and heard back at the end of this season,” Furman said in a news release. “I just like the school and the feel there, and also the head coaches. The campus is really nice, the hockey facilities are nice, and it’s just a pretty good package. It’s a nice place to go and play, and I look forward to getting to know the coaching staff better.”

The Foresters went 1-5 while playing a limited schedule in 2020-21.

Furman had previously committed to the University of New England.


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