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Connections between the BCHL and the Maine Nordiques

Since the COVID-19 pandemic ended, the British Columbia Hockey League has developed a unique tie with one North American Hockey League team. This relationship has resulted in several BCHL teams recruiting players from the Maine Nordiques and the Nords U18 AAA squad. Likewise, the NAHL’s Nords have added several players from BCHL teams over the years.

This two-way flow of players shows the strength of the Nordiques hockey program and the quality of BCHL player development programs. This article is about Maine players who moved from the NAHL and U18 AAA teams to the BCHL and BCHL players who joined the Nordiques’ NAHL team. I will divide these players between those who came to the BCHL and those who joined the Nordiques.

British Columbia-bound

One of the first players who recently came to the BCHL from Maine is goaltender Ansel “Gus” Holt. After playing two seasons for the Nordiques hockey program – one with the U18 AAA team and one with the NAHL club – Holt played his final of junior hockey with the Victoria Grizzlies in 2022-23. Currently, Holt is playing NCAA Division I hockey with the Army Black Knights at the U.S. Military Academy.

Another player who came to the BCHL from the Nordiques pipeline is forward Zion Green. From 2020 to 2022, Green split time between the Nordiques 16U AAA team and the NAHL team.

During the 2022-23 season, Green split time between the United States Hockey League’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders and Des Moines Buccaneers. He is now with the Cranbrook Bucks for the 2023-24 BCHL season. Next year, he’s off to attend Northern Michigan University.

The final Nordiques player to highlight who came to the BCHL is Oli Genest. Genest played 62 games for the Nordiques, first after his academy team’s season ended in February 2022, and then as a full-time player in 2022-23. He joined the Grizzlies for his maiden BCHL season this year. Genest is committed to Colgate University for 2024-25.

Leaving the BCHL to go to Maine

After playing 12 games for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in 2022-23, goaltender Carter Richardson has joined the Nordiques for this season. While in Salmon Arm, Richardson served as the backup goaltender. In Maine so far in 2023-24, Richardson and Thomas Heaney have formed the goaltending tandem.

Joining Richardson is former Prince George Spruce Kings forward Jack Kurrle. After splitting time between the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Spruce Kings in 2022-23, Kurrle rejoined the Nordiques. He previously played 50 games for Maine’s NAHL club, split between the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

Also with the Nordiques this season is former Nanaimo Clippers forward Charles-Edward Tardif. From 2021 to 2023, Tardif played 82 games for the Clippers. As of this writing, he leads Maine in scoring.

Finally, there’s forward Jake Bernadet. Bernadet joins Maine after playing 54 games for the West Kelowna Warriors in 2022-23.

Benefits for the Nords and BCHL clubs

Both the BCHL and the Nordiques benefit from the two-way stream of players. For example, Bernadet is a 20-year-old veteran in his final junior hockey season who played in the National Collegiate Development Conference before arriving in the BCHL 16 months ago.

Like Bernadet, Kurrle is also a 20-year-old veteran in his final junior hockey season, and so is Tardif.

The Nordiques have a quality goal scorer with Tardif while Kurrle can also produce offensively.

As for the BCHL team’s benefits, Holt helped form a solid goaltending tandem in Victoria, working with rookie goaltender Oliver Auyeung-Ashton last season. They each shared the load so Auyeung-Ashton wasn’t overworked.

During his time with the Nordiques, Green produced solid offensive numbers with 15 goals and 47 points in 57 games. Genest was also a prolific scorer with Maine, scoring 20 goals and 40 points in 58 games. During the 2022-23 season, Genest finished fourth overall in scoring for the Nordiques.