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NA Now: Maine Nordiques

August 22, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.

Maine Nordiques

Head Coach: Nick Skerlick (1st season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 33-24-3, 69 pts. (3rd in the East Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Brendan Gibbons (58 points)

2023 Playoffs: Lost in the East Division Finals to Maryland, 3 games to 1

2023-24 Division: East

First regular season game: Friday, September 8th vs. Northeast Generals

Home opener: Friday, September 8th vs. Northeast Generals

After a great run through the 2022-23 regular season, which included 33 wins, 69 points, and a 3rd place finish in the East Division, the Maine Nordiques gave themselves a shot of getting to the Robertson Cup by upsetting the defending Champion New Jersey Titans in the East Semi-Finals, and then giving the Maryland Black Bears and tough run in the East Finals, which ultimately ended in a 3-1 series loss for the club. In addition, the Nordiques posted 11 NCAA commitments in 2022-23, which included six Division I commitments.

The buzz for the Nordiques continued immediately in the off-season as a change in ownership was announced Shift Sports Entertainment, LLC, purchasing the club from former owner Darryl Antonacci, MD. “We are thrilled to be part of the Maine Nordiques organization," said Anderson. "Watching the Nordiques compete for an East Division Championship solidifies how excited and committed we are to continue building on the success of the team and the academy program, and to providing the best possible experience for our fans and players.”

Shortly after the change in ownership, the Nordiques announced a change in the coaching staff as former NAPHL head coach and NAHL assistant Nick Skerlick replacing Matt Pinchevsky, who would later be named as the head coach for the University of Southern Maine at the NCAA Division III level.

Skerlick said that a head coaching job in the NAHL was something has wanted for a while. “It’s an experience I have wanted for a long time now. I learned a lot from coaching in the NAHL and being an assistant in the NAHL, particularly with Craig Doremus in New Jersey. There is a lot of work goes into it and I am excited to work with the entire group, from rookies to veterans,” said Skerlick.

“Last year’s team was exciting to watch and had a good group of kids. I thought Coach Pinchevsky did a great job with them. Ryan Shelley is back as the Associate Head Coach and has been a huge asset. The first 10 questions I had about the roster went straight to him. He has done a great job of managing that for us. He will play a big role in helping me understand our players and get a feel for the roster,” said Skerlick.

Watch: NA Now video interview with Nick Skerlick

The Nordiques started training camp this week and Skerlick is pleased with what they have so far. “We have a lot of depth, and they are big, strong, and work very hard on and off the ice. We have some very good leadership in place and we will have between 10-12 returning players based on what happens in camp.”

The Nordiques will get a huge lift and some of those leadership qualities from returning defensemen Nick Bernardo, John-Paul Steele, and Seth Murch. Bernardo, who led the Nordiques in scoring by all defensemen last season with 38 points in 54 games played, just committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Long Island University and also played in the 2023 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament last season. Steele recorded 21 points in 54 games last year, which was 3rd for defensemen on the 2022-23 roster. Merch, who will be returning for his third season with the team, has nine points in 68 career NAHL games. Up front, Kellen Murphy (40 points) is the team’s top returning offense performer, having recorded 40 points in 57 games last season.

“Having had good teams in Maine in the past really has helped us establish a tradition and has given us some ammunition in recruiting and developing. Every year we have had a down season, we have come back with the great season. I know the new ownership group is excited and motivated to see us succeed. We want to make the playoff this year and then take it from there. The Nordiques have not made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons yet, so that’s a big goal in 2023-24,” said Skerlick. “We are focused on having a good camp and good start to the season. I’m excited because the conversations have already started with NCAA schools about our players. The NAHL Showcase is second-to-none and there is nothing like it, so we need to take advantage of the opportunity, while we are there playing in front of all those scouts.”

Next Up: Maryland Black Bears

 
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