Winston-Salem N.C. – The Carolina Thunderbirds are announcing the return of head coach Andre Niec for the 2018-19 season and their first free agent camp of the 2018 offseason. The camp will be held in late August at SkateNation Plus in Glen Allen, Virginia just north of Richmond by the Richmond Skating group.

The camp will be hosted by player/assistant coach Jay Croop and Niec as they look to add some fresh talent to the team ahead of the 2018-19 season.

“I’m very excited to get back onto the ice and start planning for next season” Andre Niec said. “I’ll be coming back to America soon, and getting on the ice and doing player evaluations almost immediately is very exciting. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do all summer so I’m very happy to be jumping back in so quickly.”

The camp is open to anybody who believes they can play at the FHL level, however Asst. Coach Croop made sure to mention what kind of experience he and Niec want prospective players to have.

“We want to see high level junior and college aged players who have succeeded at those levels and wish to take the next step as a professional.” Croop said. “We’re looking for guys that play with intensity and not be afraid to play physical. Every year you have to look for everything, you never know when guys are going to get called up and we have to fill a spot.”

The camp will run for three days from August 27-29, with four windows of ice time during the camp, plus dry land training. There will be daily “Red vs Black” scrimmages and after the camp at least two players will be guaranteed a spot at the Carolina Thunderbirds’ official training camp in October.

“We may take more than two players, it depends on the camp. If you can play at the next level, we will invite you to camp. It’s not so much a competition against the other players, it’s about being at the level we want them to be at for the Federal League” Croop said. “This year’s team I expect to be strong and we look forward to the [free agent] camps adding to those strengths.”

Head Coach Niec was rather candid when asked about how likely somebody coming out of these camps could make the team.

“This could be the start of a big chance for any kind of player to come in and make this team” Niec said. “We know we are going to have spots available and depending on how many players are able to crack squads above ours [ECHL, etc.] we could have maybe seven or eight places up for grabs in camp.”

The camp costs $275 and includes a jersey for the player. Camp registration is open online and is capped at 40 available spots. Players can register and receive a special discount code with the Fairfield Inn in Richmond by using the code “Thunderbirds Camp” when you reserve a room.

Link to register for the camp:

Head coach Niec can be reached regarding this camp at:

Jay Croop can be reached regarding this camp at:


The Carolina Thunderbirds are proud members of the Federal Hockey League, now in its ninth season. Carolina will be starting its second season of play looking to build on the success of its inaugural season where the Thunderbirds posted an 87-point season with a record of 25-5-2-24 (W-OTW-OTL-L). The Thunderbirds also set an FHL record with over 65,000 fans through the doors in their first season and six sellout crowds. Season and group tickets are on sale now by calling 336-774-GOAL (4625).