Sep. 15—LEWISTON — Blaine, Minnesota, is becoming a second home for the Maine Nordiques.
The Nordiques will open their 60-game North American Hockey League regular season schedule with four games at the NAHL Showcase this week at the National Sports Center. Maine first faces the Fairbanks Ice Dogs (Wednesday at 12:45 p.m.), followed by the Bismarck Bobcats (Thursday 3 p.m.), the Kenai River Brown Bears (Friday, 6:30 p.m.) and the El Paso Rhinos (Saturday, 11 a.m.) .
The Nordiques 2020-21 campaign ended with a loss to the Shreveport Mudbugs in the semifinals of the Robertson Cup in Blaine in June.
"It's good to get back. We are looking to get revenge on what we didn't accomplish out there (last season)," Nordiques second-year forward Aidan Connolly said. "We are happy to get going again."
The Nordiques aim to replicate last year's success, which included a 35-19-2 record and a second-place finish in the NAHL East Division behind the Johnstown Tomahawks.
A third of Maine's roster is returning from last season, and second-year forward Tristan Fasig believes the veterans have set the tone.
"The team bonding is definitely the same, I think we brought it up to a whale new level," Fasig said. "I have to give credit to all the veterans on the team, they brought the family mentality back from last year and it has translated to this year. I think we brought it to a whole new level this year."
Jack Kurrle played mostly with the Maine Nordiques 18U team last year, but he did appear in two games at the NAHL level. He also practiced with the NAHL team, and believes that experience will help in his first full season.
"They were an awesome group (of players) last year," Kurrle said. "They welcomed me in, and I got to watch a lot of older guys, as (an) young (player), to see how the league is and see how the guys handle themselves. That was a big piece for me to get a full-time spot (this season)."
Kurrle is one of five former academy players on this year's roster.
"I think almost every line has a former Nordiques player, whether it's an academy player or an NAHL player," Fasig said. "They will be able to guide their linemates (toward) what we expect as an organization and carry it on."
The NAHL Showcase is the first event of the season, and it allows college and pro scouts to see all 26 NAHL teams in one location.
Maine has 17 players who are still looking for college hockey opportunities. However, returning defenseman Matt Connor isn't focused on NCAA Division I and Division III coaches watching him this week.
"I am just ready to go," Connor said. "I am just going to have fun, it's my last year (of junior hockey); make it (my) best, give it my all."
Avery Sturtz (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Ansel 'Gus' Holt (Maine Nordiques Academy 18U, Beast Series).
Edward Bellina (Connecticut Jr. Rangers, NCDC), Nick Bernardo (Kimball Union Academy, NEPSAC), Matt Conner (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Tyler Fittro (Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, USPHL Premier), Kadsen Johnson (Maine Nordiques Academy 18U, Beast Series), Brendan Kimball (Trinity Pawling School, NEPSAC), Evan Orloff (New Jersey Rockets, NCDC), Jacob Pellerin (Northern Cyclones, NCDC), Casper Soderling (Maine Nordiques, NAHL).
Ignat Belov (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Bryce Bollman (Kimball Union Academy, NEPSAC), Aidan Connolly (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Reese Farrell (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Tristan Fasig (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Tyler Gaulin (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Brendan Gibbons (PAL Islanders, NCDC), Zion Green (Maine Nordiques Academy 16U, Beast Series), Jack Kurrle (Maine Nordiques Academy 18U, Beast Series), Dominiks Marcinkevics (Minnesota Wilderness, NAHL), Johny Meiers (St. Clod Norsemen, NAHL), Johnson Parker (Nepean Raiders, CCHL), Caden Pattison (Maine Nordiques, NAHL), Liam Walsh (Kimball Union Academy, NEPSAC), Zach Whitehead (Kimball Union Academy, NEPSAC), Filip Wiberg (Skellefteå AIK J20, J20 Nationell), Kristopher Zapata (Maine Nordiques Academy 18U, Beast Series).