• Jeff Nygaard

The Donnybrook - January 7, 2020

Updated: Jan 13

TJHP presents 'The Donnybrook'

Facts, Gossip & Rumors From College-Bound Hockey

A Weekly TJHP Feature

Help keep The Donnybrook banter going by sending tips, audio, video and story ideas to Jeff Nygaard at info@juniorhockeyhub.com


The Maine Nordiques Development Program (formerly the ISS Kings), which currently consists of an 18U Tier I team that practices in Bristol, Pa.,, has announced it will be moving to Lewiston, Maine, next year. It also announced a new partnership with St. Dominic Academy in Lewiston, where the players will attend school while participating. The program will be known at the Maine Nordiques Development Program Prep Academy and will add a 16U team for the 2020-21 season.

The program will continue to play in The BEAST Series in addition to an independent Tier I schedule. St. Dom's will continue to field a varsity team, separate from the new MNDPPA.

The Maine Nordiques are in their first year of North American Hockey League membership and are coached by former ISS Kings leader Nolan Howe. Also part of the organization is the L/A Nordiques, which is a Tier III Junior team in the NA3HL.

The "academy" program format won't grow like wildfire because it is a huge undertaking to provide the infrastructure to support it, but these programs will steadily increase in future years as the model has proven to be effective for both player and program.


Plans are in place for the NCDC to take a page out of the NAHL-NA3HL relationship book for the 2020-21 season by requiring NCDC teams to draft and tender USPHL Premier players. Two rounds of the NCDC Entry Draft will be set aside solely for the selection of USPHL Premier Division players, while each NCDC team will be required to tender at least one USPHL Premier player.

The NCDC has a term called "organizational asset" which means the rights of youth and Junior players in an NCDC organization belong to that NCDC team, so the new draft and tender rules apply to USPHL teams that are outside an NCDC organization.


Multiple USPHL league sources have told TJHP the Rochester Monarchs are likely out of the NCDC for 2020-21, with no replacement team waiting in the wings. If this is the case it would bring the NCDC back down to an even number of 12 teams.

Rochester got its first two NCDC wins of the season in December but dropped its three games at last weekend's USPHL Winter Showcase, including a 13-1 loss to the Islanders Hockey Club. The Monarchs are entrenched in last place with a 2-25 record and three overtime losses for 7 standings points, which is 16 behind the 12th-place New Jersey Rockets and 50 behind the first-place Jersey Hitmen.

From a geographic standpoint, Rochester is an outlier in the NCDC as its nearest league partner is 140 miles away in Utica. It is about 520 miles from Twin City, approximately 390 miles from Boston and roughly 330 miles to New Jersey/Philadelphia teams.

On top of the geography issue, Rochester is one of the NCDC franchises that does not receive league subsidy funds that are generated from the USPHL registration fees. These fees are annually collected from every USPHL player from youth to Juniors. The USPHL and estimated $640,000 in player registration fees so far this season based on the number of youth ($50 per player), Midget ($175 per player) and the three levels of Junior ($250-$400 per player) registrations. TJHP does not have specific information on how that money is divided up and/or disbursed within the NCDC, other than it is not shared with all the NCDC teams.

The Rochester ownership group did not respond to a request for additional information regarding their NCDC program.


The USPHL Winter Showcase concluded yesterday at the New England Sports Center. Given the Premier Division stretches geographically up-and-down the East Coast, and as far west as Minnesota, it's bordering on amazing that the parity is so high. In 90 Premier Division games that took place at the Showcase, 63 of them (70 percent) were decided by three goals or fewer. These were games between teams that haven't crossed paths this year and likely won't again unless they meet in the USPHL championship tournament in March.

Jeff Nygaard is the editor of The Junior Hockey Podcast. He covers Junior and college-bound hockey as a traditional “beat,” in addition to breaking news stories during the course of the year.

He has a vast amount of experience on the business and organizational side of the sport as a former owner-operator of two Junior organizations and two youth clubs and has served as executive director or commissioner of the Eastern Hockey League and the United States Premier Hockey League.

A Fergus Falls, Minn., native, Nygaard grew up playing for the Fergus Falls Youth Hockey Association, Fergus Falls High School, Fergus Falls Community College and North Dakota State University programs.

He can be reached at info@juniorhockeyhub.com for questions, story ideas, and anonymous tips.

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