By Joshua Boyd
September has arrived. Apples are being harvested, the air is getting a little cooler and the Lewiston-Auburn Nordiques are on the ice, getting ready for the 2017-18 hockey season.
“On the first of September, players will be coming in, and we’ll hit the ice on the 4th,” said Nordiques head coach Cameron Robichaud, speaking in late August. “We will have fitness testing over the Labor Day weekend, and we’ll get everyone understanding what the philosophy is here.”
As of late August, the Nordiques were just about full for the final roster, but were still looking for a couple forwards to round out the ranks up front.
“We have a mix of older and younger guys, with a handful 1997’s and some 2001’s and everything in between,” said Robichaud. “Some of our players are looking to move to NCAA Division 3 hockey, and some are looking to move up to higher tiers of juniors.”
One such ’97 is goalie Carson Bonk, a goalie out of Clinton, N.Y., who brings good size to the crease at 6-feet-3-inches, 195 pounds. He is also a junior hockey veteran, having played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights team in the former NA3AHL.
“He peaks well, and he will bring in some leadership and experience. He understands what junior hockey is about,” said Robichaud. “He has had some interest from schools.”
Signed to play in front of Bonk was ’99 defenseman Armand O’Keefe, who is expected to be a top four blueliner for the Nordiques from start to finish.
Standing 6-feet and weighing in at 185 pounds, O’Keefe joins the Nordiques out of the Tier-1 AAA New Jersey Devils Youth midget program.
“He plays a high-intensity, fast game. He has a lot of speed and physicality, as well as an offensive touch to his game,” said Robichaud. “Being a ’99, he is one of our players looking to move up to a higher tier of junior hockey.”
Home opener extravaganza: The Nordiques are planning a big home opener weekend. Hockey is the big event each night, starting with their first of three games against the Jersey Wildcats on Sept. 29 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
On Sept. 30, there will be a 3-on-3 Street Hockey Tournament in the parking lot in front of the Colisee, followed by a tailgate party starting at 4 p.m. Faceoff that day is 7 p.m. as well. On Oct. 1, the Nordiques host the Hat Trick Open at Prospect Hill Golf Course in Auburn.
Registration forms for the street hockey and golf tournaments are currently available on the team website at www.lanordiques.com.