AUBURN — The Twin City Thunder wrapped up their main camp with increased excitement for the upcoming season.

Nearly 120 players attended the camp that ran Thursday through Sunday at Norway Savings Bank Arena. The team cut that number down to 40 players for Sunday’s all-star game in which Team Green defeated Team Grey 7-2.

“They all worked hard, (Sunday) was a great game, and I thought it was a great camp,” Thunder coach Dan Hodge said. “It was a great pace and we are excited (about) the next steps.”

The Thunder’s training camp will begin Sept. 3 with 30 players in attendance. The roster needs to be down to 23 players by the middle of September. Twin City opens the USPHL National Collegiate Development Conference season Sept. 25 against the Junior Bruins in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The Thunder’s first home game is Oct. 8 against the Islanders Hockey Club.

Sunday’s game was tied 2-2 at the mandatory goalie change with 10 minutes remaining in the second period. After a short warmup for the goaltenders entering the game, Team Green peppered Team Gray’s goalie Matthew Gover with five goals in the final 30 minutes.

Hodge said he and the rest of the coaching staff won’t evaluate the 40 players based solely on one lopsided game.

“You look at the body of work of the players, what they have done the last three days,” Hodge said. “You judge that way, the whole picture. The first half (of the all-star game) was definitely more back-and-forth, and then (the backup goalies) are getting in there cold and you are trying to get them warmed up as quick as possible. That’s how it goes, that’s the game.”

Returning forward Nate Chickering and free agent forward Matthew Anastasio each scored twice for Team Green.

Hodge said that Chickering has been a reliable player for the Thunder. Anastasio, meanwhile, was nearly a point-per-game player with the Long Beach Sharks of the North American 3 Hockey League last season.

“He really has some nice hands and he scored some goals,” Hodge said of Anastasio. “The puck seems to follow him and he has really good vision.”

LEWISTON PLAYERS SOAK UP EXPERIENCE

Five current and former Lewiston High School players participated in the Thunder’s camp. Forwards Evan Knowlton (senior) and Tyler Leger (graduated in 2021), defensemen Damon Bossie (senior) and Nick Pomerleau (graduated 2021) and goalie Keegan McLaughlin (graduated in 2021) skated this weekend in hopes of playing junior hockey.

Knowlton, who is listed at 5-foot-5, wanted to showcase his quickness against the taller and more experienced players.

“I am pretty fast, so I need to work hard and win battles (for the puck),” Knowlton said.

All five were on different teams during the first two days of camp — the 120 players that participated in the camp were divided into six different teams. Each team played two games each of the first two days.

“We practiced against each other every day last year,” Bossie said. “It’s a different compete level when you see each other (here at a tryout camp).”

Leger, who was a senior last year, wants to stay close to home if he’s going to continue to play hockey.

“I want to see what my chances are (for) making the team this year,” Leger said. “I don’t want to travel too far, I want to stay local. It was a little convenient to get here, get better. If make the team, (I make the team). If I don’t, we will go from there.”

Pomerleau and Bossie made the all-star game and Hodge thought both players had a solid weekend after a strong USPHL Showcase in July. Pomerleau recorded an assist in Sunday’s game.

Hodge thought all five players performed well this past weekend, even though Knowlton, Leger and McLaughlin didn’t play Sunday.

“I thought Evan had a great showcase and had a great camp,” Hodge said. “Leger is (also) a (Maine) Moose 18U kid. So, we will keep an eye out on him, and McLaughlin, he had some practices with us last year. We have some roots with some guys we are keeping our eyes on.”

CURT SCHILLING’S SON PREFERS A GOALIE GLOVE 

One of the 20 goalies trying out was Garrison Schilling, the son of former pitcher Curt Schilling, who helped the Red Sox win the 2004 and 2007 World Series titles.

Garrison never played baseball, other than T-ball, when he was younger, and instead picked hockey as his sport of choice.

“My brother played (hockey) and I always wanted to be like my brother,” Schilling said. “I picked up the stick and skates and started playing.”

Garrison said his dad also enjoys watching hockey.

McLaughlin’s parents were actually at Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, which is known as the “Bloody Sock” game. Curt Schilling had a surgical procedure to repair a tendon in his right ankle and blood soaked through his sock when the three stitches burst open during the game. He still pitched seven innings, striking out four and allowing only one run, and the Red Sox forced a Game 7 with a 4-2 win.

McLaughlin was too young to remember the game or the Red Sox winning the World Series, but his parents had a simple message about watching Curt Schilling that night.

“(They talk about) determination and never give up,” McLaughlin said.

Garrison Schilling, who did not make Sunday’s all-star game, was only 2 years old in 2004.

“It’s one of the most important parts of my family’s history, and it’s cool because it’s one of the most important parts in baseball history,” Schilling said. “It was the (Red Sox’s) first World Series in 86 years. He wanted to win and he didn’t trust anybody but himself. He did it for his teammates.”

FAMILY MEMBERS OF FORMER NHL REFEREES TRY OUT

Harrison Dumas, the grandson of Kerry Fraser, and Max Stewart, the son of Paul Stewart, also participated in the Thunder’s camp. Fraser and Stewart are former NHL referees.

Fraser worked 1,904 NHL regular-season games and 12 Stanley Cup Finals from 1973-2010. He’s known for his puffy hairstyles, and he was one of the last officials to not wear a helmet, along with Stewart. He’s also known for his controversial decision in 1993, when he didn’t give Los Angeles Kings’ Wayne Gretzky a five-minute major for high-sticking Toronto Maple Leafs’ Doug Gilmour in overtime of Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final. While Gilmour was in the locker room getting stitches, Gretzky scored to win Game 6 for the Kings, who also won Game 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost to the Montreal Canadiens.

Paul Stewart became the first American to officiate 1,000 NHL games, working 1,010 games from 1986-2003. He worked 49 games in the playoffs and two all-star games. Stewart is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Dumas and Max Stewart said they enjoy learning the game from an official’s point of view.

“It’s really cool having him around,” Dumas said of Fraser. “It gives me another aspect of how to see the game.”

Said Max Stewart: “As a son of a former NHL official, it definitely helps to give me insight into the game. It gives you a view from a different angle. You get to see other things you wouldn’t particularly see (as a player).”

Both players said they haven’t received tips on how to avoid ending up in the penalty box. Dumas, who made Sunday’s all-star game, spent 34 minutes in the penalty box in 18 games last season with the Philadelphia Little Flyers 18U team.

Max Stewart spent the past two years at Stanstead College, a prep school in Quebec, but he didn’t play last year. With the Walpole Express in 2018-19, he accumulated 44 penalty minutes in 41 games.


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