Let's get ready to rumble!
When the North American Hockey League announced the expansion of the league into Lewiston (Maine Nordiques) yesterday I could not help but chuckle. Yes, NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld is a funny guy.
You see, there is so much more to this story than what was seen in the league's press release.
First, Lewiston is a market that has been looked at (as a possible relocation target) by a number of different NAHL teams over the years but for one reason or another, just never came to be.
Fast-forward to this past season when the Auburn-based Twin City Thunder announced its plans to bring a USPHL Tier II NCDC team to Lewiston for next season, and I can completely understand why Frankenfeld was focused on the community.
Yesterday's announcement means only one thing...war.
I can say this with a high degree of confidence, Frankenfeld is never going to back down from a fight and getting the chance to go battle the United States Premier Hockey League (and boss Richard Gallant) had to be inspiring.
Now the fun begins.
Across the Androscoggin River in Auburn, Twin City Thunder (USPHL) co-owner Dan Hodge has to have concerns that the Nordiques will keep Lewiston hockey dollars from crossing the Longley Bridge, and he should be.
Hodge's shiny new NCDC team was hoping to offset much of their expenses with local fan ans sponsorship support. Now that the Nordiques will be playing big boy hockey at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée, it's going to be very difficult for the Thunder.
The Nordiques' 3,677 seat arena has been home to hockey since 1960 and should rival the east division's Johnstown Tomahawks' attendance numbers.
Lifetime Lewiston resident Dave Gagnon does not see the Nordiques' battle with the Thunder as a war at all.
"I don’t give the Thunder much of a chance. They have a big challenge ahead of them and I don’t believe they will be successful," Gagnon said on Thursday. "Parking themselves across the river from an established team, that already had a fan base, did not work out too well. Now the Nordiques are in a real league to go with it."
The NA3HL Nordiques averaged 700 fans a game at the Colisée this season ( good for 5th in the league) while the Thunder were able to draw a little more than parents and girlfriends to 900 seat Norway Savings Bank in Auburn.
I'm thinking old Dave is right, the Thunder don't have a chance in this one.
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