The Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine, will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2018.
Next year will also see half of the inaugural season of the new Lewiston-Auburn Nordiques.
By Joshua Boyd
The Nordiques’ nickname honors the history of one of the most notable tenants of the Colisée, the Maine Nordiques. That was the “farm” team of the former World Hockey Association’s Quebec Nordiques. They rocked the Colisée from 1973-77.
Several other tenants have come and gone, including the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Lewiston MAINEiacs and the Lewiston-Auburn Fighting Spirit prior to the L-A Nordiques.
The Androscoggin Bank Colisée bought the NA3HL franchise of the former Fighting Spirit and will field the Nordiques in the NA3HL for 2017-18. At the helm of hockey operations is head coach Cameron Robicahud.
“There is such a rich history of hockey played out of the Colisée.”
“The word is getting out there about the Nordiques, and people are really fond of the name,” said Robichaud. “We’re really focused on creating a Tier-3 junior program that is focused on both individual and team development. We are focused on moving our players on to higher levels of junior hockey, and to college.”
The Nordiques are more than happy to be part of the NA3HL, with its direct affiliation with the Tier-2 North American Hockey League. The NAHL just recently set a record 260 college commitments (more than 80 percent being to NCAA Division 1 colleges) from the 2016-17 season. The NAHL also has more than 1,000 commitments in the last five years.
“We are fortunate to be under the NAHL umbrella and build a reputation where we can bring in younger players who need a year or two to develop [for the NAHL], whether it’s on-ice skill or off-ice conditioning,” added Robichaud.
“The NA3HL is a good developmental league. It provides an avenue for players to learn what it takes to be a junior hockey player both on and off the ice,” Robichaud said. “We have a 47-game season, off-ice training, and limited travel.”
The Lewiston-Auburn Nordiques are built on four components that will guide their players’ development.
The first component is a 45-minute skills session that will be held before every team practice.
The second component is in-house strength and conditioning. Robichaud owns the strength and conditioning company Puc Development. The training facility is located right inside of the Androscoggin Bank Colisée.
The third Nordiques component to development is skating instruction. The Nordiques have brought in skating instructor Veronica Whyte. Whyte has worked with Jr. A, major junior and NHL players during her career.
The fourth component is goaltending coach Jonathan Racine, the former goalie coach for the MAINEiacs and the University of Maine.
Along with running Puc Development, Robichaud previously coached in the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs organization. After playing with the Monarchs, he became a coach and remained there for four seasons.
He came home to Auburn, the city bordering Lewiston, and took the job as head coach for the Fighting Spirit.
One of the first Nordiques players the team announced is captain Caleb Labrie. Labrie, a native of Greene, Maine, joined the Fighting Spirit in the middle of the 2016-17 season.
“He’s an older player, a good character kid, a locker room guy. He brings a mature presence to our lineup,” said Robichaud. “He’s someone who can help teach the incoming players what it is to be a junior hockey player, and to play for the Nordiques.”
The Nordiques have half the team recruited, with many interested players still working their way through Tier-2 camps.
“For most of the off-season, I’ve been away every weekend, going to New York, Massachusetts and Canada,” said Robichaud. “I have a few other camps that I’ll be attending in the New England area. We’re just continuing to keep on top of the players that I’m talking to at Tier-2 camps.”