Darryl Antonacci said he’s passing the baton to Shift Sports & Entertainment.

Last week, Antonacci, who founder of the Maine Nordiques organization in March 2019, transferred transferred ownership of the North American Hockey League franchise to Shift Sports & Entertainment, which has signed a five-year lease to remain at The Colisee in Lewiston.

Shift Sports & Entertainment is a small group of people that includes spokesperson Darren Anderson.

“We are in the business of hockey and we were looking out to helping out the scenario that’s there (in Lewiston),” Anderson said. “The mindset was we built a relationship with Darryl and the group the previous season through their academy model. We created a great relationship and had a lot of parallel thinking about what the future holds for the Maine Nordiques and the NAHL program.”

Anderson declined to disclose who else is in the ownership group, but he did say that the members have experience running hockey teams.

The partnership between Antonacci and Shift Sports & Entertainment began in 2022. The NAHL franchise had its pre-draft camp in late May at The Ice Station, an ice hockey facility in Greer, South Carolina, which Shift Sports owns.


Antonacci also had a lease at The Ice Station to house two Maine Nordiques Academy teams — an 18U and a 16U team — for the 2022-23 season. Those teams were separate from the 18u and 16u Maine Nordiques Academy teams that played at The Colisee.

Antonacci still owns the Maine Nordiques Academy organization and The Colisee, which he purchased from Jim Cain in April 2020, but Shift Sports & Entertainment will oversee the academy teams and the arena.

Antonacci considered selling all three assets, but he understands the challenges of running all three, and Shift Sports was the only group he spoke with that shared the same vision as him.

“I considered it, but it’s a big (job) for anybody to take on at once,” Antonacci said. “This is a more rational approach and allows things to continue to grow. We have created something new and exciting in Maine. The Maine Nordiques didn’t exist five years ago.”

Antonacci said he accomplished his objective of renovating The Colisee.

“I have spent a lot of effort and resources of upgrading the facility, that we can do these things,” Antonacci said. “That’s probably where I am tapping out at this point — I have created the facility, and I am turning it over to these guys to really amplify the organization. What I hope, and what I think will happen, is that they will be able to revamp the entire youth program, as well.”


Antonacci installed a replay system and scoreboard and put a bar at the top level of the arena, along with The Colisee Club in the top of level of the front of the building.

Anderson said one of the goals of Shift Sports & Entertainment is to develop relationships with area youth hockey organizations.

“It’s my understanding, at one time there was quite a bit of interaction between the North American League (team) and the local minor hockey system,” Anderson said. “We are looking to build that relationship and create a branch for help and development for all the kids in the area.

“Minor hockey going on there, and we are looking to support. … We do understand having a positive minor hockey system gets people excited about what can be and the North American League itself. It equates to people wanting to see (the NAHL team) in the building, it equates to great energy and it brings in local representation as far as businesses and sponsorships. We are looking to push the culture side and development side for the entire area to help with this umbrella.”

Anderson said The Colisee is a first-class building that Shift Sports is willing to share with youth hockey.

The Nordiques youth hockey had Tier IV at the 6u, 8u, 12u, and 14u levels this past season and will have 14u, 12u, and 10u teams in the 2023-24 season.


The Nordiques youth hockey teams are separate from the Maine Gladiators youth hockey program that plays out of Auburn’s Norway Saving Bank Arena.


Shift Sports & Entertainment will be in charge of bringing other events to The Colisee, whether they are hockey-related events or not.

Antonacci said that the community is supportive of the Nordiques organization.

“I think they are,” Antonacci said. “I think we can do a better job of supporting what the community wants and what (Shift Sports & Entertainment) can do. I couldn’t because I was one person. If they want to bring back the circus or they want to bring back other community events, they have the resources to do that, where my focus was the NAHL team and building the academy teams.”

Anderson said Shift Sports has ideas of non-hockey events to bring to The Colisee, but he declined to divulge specifics.


The Colisee had hosted the high school hockey playoffs for the majority of the building’s existence. However, The Colisee and the Maine Principles’ Association couldn’t didn’t agree on ticket prices for the 2022 state championships. Therefore, Cross Insurance Arena has hosted the past two boys state championships, while William B. Troubh Ice Arena, also in Portland, has hosted the past two girls state championship games.

Andersson said Shift Sports will look into bringing back the high school playoffs to The Colisee and have a conversation with the MPA.

“Obviously, we wouldn’t have the final say in that,” Anderson said. “We are definitely going to throw our hat in the ring for that. When we rounded the bases with all of our interviews and stuff, that was a difficult spot for the high school championships. We want to bring the electricity back to the building. We definitely consider being a part of the future, in that if the organizers feel we can be a great partner.”

There have been rumors over the past few months the Federal Prospects Hockey League was looking to base a franchise at The Colisee beginning next season.

The FPHL is a Single-A minor hockey league, and when it was known as the Federal Hockey League, had a five-game showcase throughout the 2011-12 season at The Colisee but wasn’t able to establish a franchise in Lewiston.

However, Antonacci said that according to the NAHL’s rules, an NAHL team must be the primary tenant of its arena.

“One of the league requirements in the North American Hockey League is they are the marquee team,” Antonacci said.

Anderson doesn’t envision bringing in an FPHL franchise to The Colisee.

“I agree with Daryl on that,” Anderson said. “That has to be some sort of a rumor, but that’s not in the plans.”

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