13 in 13: L/A Fighting Spirit
September 1, 2015
The 13 in 13 series will feature an in-depth look into all 13 teams in the NA3EHL for the 2015-16 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Friday, September 11th as eight teams take to the ice on Opening Night.13 in 13 goes in-depth into each NA3EHL team and will include interviews with all 13 head coaches in the NA3EHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2015-16 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2014-15 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 13 in 13 will provide the fans of the NA3EHL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
Lewiston/Auburn Fighting Spirit
2014-15 Record: 33-6-2, 68 pts. (1st in the Eastern Division)
2015 Playoffs: Won the Eastern Division, lost in the NA3EHL Championship to Jersey Shore, 2-1
Head Coach: Rod Simmons
2015-16 Division: East
Last season, the then New Hampshire Fighting Spirit, put together a very good season. Bolstered by 33 wins and a stout defense, led by NA3EHL Goaltender of the Year Claes Endre, the Spirit won the Eastern Division regular season and playoff titles in relatively convincing fashion. In the NA3EHL Championship, which was held at what would be the team’s future home at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, the Fighting Spirit fell just short of a Championship, losing to Jersey Shore 3-2 in double overtime of the third and deciding game of the series.
Owner and Head Coach Rod Simmons said that his players bought into the system and that even though injuries hampered the team at the end of the year, he was proud of what was accomplished. “Any time you can win your divisional regular season and playoff titles is a good year and then in the end, we are just a bounce and a goal away from being the Champions, so it is hard to be critical because everyone bought in and I thought we played well despite being shorthanded due to some key injuries,” said Simmons.
A new era begins this season as the team has relocated from New Hampshire to Lewiston/Auburn, Maine. The team will be based out of Androscoggin Bank Colisee and will be known as the Lewiston-Auburn Fighting Spirit for the upcoming 2015-16 season. Although the announcement was made last December, anticipation is high for the team in their new home. “The response from the community has been great with great crowds. We definitely have done some things to include ourselves more in the community and the atmosphere inside the facility really resembles that of a pro team. The facility is wonderful and has all the amenities and player could want,” said Simmons.
The Fighting Spirit will have just three returning players to the team in 2015-16 from last year’s division champs, but that is anchored by NA3EHL Goalie of the Year, Claes Endre. A season ago, Endre led the NA3EHL in shutouts (4), goals against average (1.70) and was 3rd in save percentage (93.9%). Other returners include forwards David Fish (21 points) and Mike Heffernan (43 points). “All three guys have been with us for multiple years and are proven success stories, so their leadership with this new group will be invaluable,” said Simmons.
Simmons said that with the new group of players, he focus is to develop team chemistry right away. “With that many new players, our focus has to be becoming a team as quickly as possible. Team chemistry is so important, so once we have that then we can work on systems and finding out players strengths and weaknesses. I think the three returning guys will help out a lot in this process.”
Next up in the 13 in 13 series: Lockport Express