Maine Hockey Journal

Fighting Spirit settling into life in L/A

(PHOTO: Andrew Gaumont)

(PHOTO: Andrew Gaumont)

LEWISTON – It’s late August, and the Lewiston/Auburn Fighting Spirit are skating on a 12-degree (Fahrenheit) sheet of ice with their logo painted in the center of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Locals aren’t thinking about hockey season just yet, but head coach Rod Simmons is preparing his team for the new building, new fans, and the classic game.

Coming from a small rink in Laconia, New Hampshire, the former New Hampshire Fighting Spirit played five games at the Colisee during the 2014-2015 season. Three of the five games held at the historic Lewiston arena were championship games against the Jersey Shore Wildcats.

The Fighting Spirit came up just short of the championship in double overtime of the final game. Still they have something to look forward to: calling the Colisee their home barn for at least the next five years.

“It’s been a lot of work, but we’re here to stay,” said Rod Simmons. “We really look forward to it. It’s always hectic when you make a move, but I think we handled it pretty well. There’s a lot of people who are doing a lot of things for us, and we’re certainly appreciative of that.”

Since the team’s initial season in 2012-2013, they have played in a different city every season. They began in a rink in Lake George, New York, made the move to Laconia, New Hampshire, and made this season’s transition to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Needless to say, the team is excited about a chance to stay in the local arena that has housed other junior hockey leagues as well as an American Hockey League team for a season.

On top of the transition between rinks, the players are enjoying the quality time being spent together at their living quarters. The players are all housed together under one roof, and it seems to add to the team’s chemistry and familiarity with one another.

“We have about 20 guys in there right now and we’re going to add another goalie and two more forwards in the next two weeks, so we’ll be pretty full at that point. It’s really worked out well. We have a common area for the game room. They all eat their suppers over there. It’s just like a college dorm,” said Simmons. “This creates a situation for our young men so that it’s an easy transition to wherever they are going in life.”

The Fighting Spirit opened training camp on August 17th and has already made a team appearance at the local Great Falls Balloon Festival. They plan on getting more volunteer hours under their belts with organizations like the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, a local horse farm, a rescue for Great Danes, and programs where the players can go read books to kids at local schools.

The Fighting Spirit are kicking off “Spirit Weekend” by playing an exhibition game tonight against a combined Fall team of local prep schools at 7 P.M. at the Colisee. Saturday and Sunday will include a battle of the bands, the coach’s wing sauce cook-off, a street hockey tournament, and a golf tournament at Turner Highlands on Sunday from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M.

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