Maine Hockey Journal

Colisee, Fighting Spirit put NAHL bid on hold

Time just ran out for the city of Lewiston to house a Tier II North American Hockey League franchise for the upcoming hockey season in 2015-16 season.

“At this time we have decided to pull our application for the upcoming season for a variety of reasons,” said Jim Cain, President of Firland Management which owns the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. “We will probably go forward again (with our application), maybe next year.”

The NAHL did approve Lewiston’s application to join USA Hockey’s lone Tier II junior hockey league. The team would have been run by Rod Simmons, who owns and coaches the Lewiston-Auburn Fighting Spirit, a team that plays in the Tier III North American 3 Hockey League.

The news doesn’t affect the NA3EHL franchise that will be slated to call the Colisee home for the entire season starting in 2015-16. They played two regular season games at the Colisee this past season and took part in the NA3EHL Championship Series that was held in Lewiston.

The NAHL has been moving teams to the east coast, announcing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Pa.) Knights organization had purchased the Dawson Creek, British Columbia franchise that has been dormant the last two seasons. On Tuesday, the New Jersey Titans organization bought the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.) Eagles.

Both the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights and New Jersey Junior Titans both have teams in the Tier III Eastern Hockey League.

Simmons believed the NAHL was looking to get teams in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before New England.

“The team that’s going to New Jersey, is the Soo Eagles,” Simmons said. “All it is, is a relocation. All those teams that are going in there (into new markets), already have teams. We have been approved for a month, and we needed to sketch our tryouts so on and so forth because we weren’t a preexisting team.”

Other teams rumored to add an NAHL franchise include the Philadelphia Little Flyers, Brooklyn, and the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs. The Monarchs and the Little Flyers both play in the EHL while Brooklyn received a franchise in the NA3EHL for the 2015-16 season. They will be called the Brooklyn Aviators.

Cain hopes a few New England teams will apply to join the NAHL for the 2016-17 season.

“We are hoping one pops up in New Hampshire and another in the greater Boston area,” Cain said. “We have been working on this issues months and months now.”

With 126 players who are committed to playing NCAA Division I hockey the NAHL is one of the top feeders to for NCAA hockey. The Maine Black Bears have three future players on NAHL rosters this year in Mitchell Fossier of the Janesville Jets, defenseman Sam Becker of the Minnesota Magicians and defenseman Konstantin Chernyuk who currently plays for the Wichita Falls Wildcats.

In unrelated news, the NA3EHL has been sanctioned by USA Hockey for the upcoming season. Last season they were an independent league but did play under USA Hockey rules. Under USA Hockey umbrella, there are fewer import players teams can carry. Last year, the Fighting Spirit carried ten

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