The Maine Wild is now a member of the NA3EHL, as part of the Northern States Junior Hockey League's new partnership with the North American Hockey League (NAHL), which includes the league's re-branding and operating under the new name.
The NA3EHL will operate independently for 2014-2015 and will seek certification to become a USA Hockey sanctioned league in 2015-2016. The teams will work to establish direct relationships with NAHL teams to act as a farm system to the NAHL.
"I am very excited about our new partnership with the NAHL and the creation of the NA3EHL," said WildÂ General Manager Dan Fontas. "It is the right move for our team and our league in order to continue to strengthen our overall brand for our players. We have been working on this transformation for a while and it is great to see the launch"
The league was previously sanctioned by AAU, but decided to become independent this season after the board expressed concerns over United Hockey Union rules and regulations. The NAHL approached league commissioner Wayne Sheehan with the idea of operating under their name as their flagship organization in the East to feed their league.
Partnering with the NAHL will put the league in direct competition with other top leagues in the East.
As a result of the change, mainewildhockey.com will be used as a hub websiteÂ for all youth teams. The Maine Wild junior team will have a new and distinct website:Â www.wildjuniorhockey.com.Â
Head Coach Mike Tenney has a simple message to his team this week: find the puck and keep possession of it.
The Wild will take on the Cape Cod Islanders in a two-game series this weekend; both games are expected to be tight, low-scoring contests. The teams face off Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Biddeford, at Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Hyannis.
"We are puck hunters this weekend," said Tenney. "We got out-shot pretty badly in all three showcase games (last weekend), so we need to hunt the puck and possess the puck a little more. We want to keep possession in the offensive end, because we haven't been good in that department."
Tenney said he knows the Wild will certainly have a challenge ahead of them in facing an opponent like the Islanders.
"They are a solid team all the way through, they have good defense, I watched them pretty closely (last weekend)," said Tenney. "They have four lines that play well and good goaltending, so it will probably be a low-scoring game. I'm expecting tight contests because they play a good defensive game."
The Maine Wild came away with two wins from their three games at the Northern States Junior Hockey League showcase last weekend.
On Friday, the Wild bested the Wilkes-Barre Miners, 5-3. Noel Fischer and Drew Lupardo notched two goals apiece, and Travis Mansir also found the back of the net. Ignat Molchanov and Matt Henderson tallied two assists each.
"I thought we took a big step forward with the game against Wilkes-Barre," said Tenney. "We started slow but I attribute that to bus legs and as the game went on, we got much better. Our goaltender Lucas Osborne played really well in the second half to secure the win."
On Saturday, the Roc City Royals edged the Wild, 3-2.
"We were outplayed by Roc City but Jon Fields held us in the game with a 41 save effort," said Tenney.
The Wild also came away with a 3-2 victory against the Lockport Express.
"We put a very simple, smart game plan together, went out and executed," said Tenney. "We played one of our better games to date and got the victory. Again our goaltenders played very well as Justin Broy and Lucas Osborne split the time."
The three goaltenders as well as Noel Fischer were nabbed for the NSHL weekly Honor Roll.
All three goaltenders stopped 110 shots out of 118 for a .932 save percentage, and a 2.67 GAA in the three games.