LEWISTON – All Stefano Giliati could do was watch, and that was almost more than he could take.
“I would have wanted nothing more than to be on the ice,” said the Lewiston Maineiac forward. “We’ve been working for this all year. I feel like I let the team down a bit.”
Giliati was cross-checked into the end boards late in the first period and never returned as the Maineiacs bowed out of the playoffs in a 6-5 loss to Halifax. Nursing an injured shoulder, all Giliati could do in the final period was watch and hope his teammates kept themselves alive.
“It was a good period,” said Giliati. “The puck was going both ways, one end to the other. It bounced back and forth. They got one more lucky bounce than we did.”
It was an awkward bounce into the boards that put Giliati out of action. Up 1-0, Giliati was checked from behind by Luciano Lomanno with 7:56 left in the period. He didn’t dislocate his shoulder but could barely move it.
“It wasn’t a dirty cross-check,” said Giliati. “I just fell into the boards weird. I was off-balance already. I got cross-checked, and it made me fall. It was just unlucky.”
Lewiston had a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead on the power play but couldn’t produce. Halifax scored just moments after the penalty expired and the shootout was on.
Lewiston, however, had to produce offense without Giliati, who had 21 goals and 28 assists in 70 games during the regular season. He also had two of Lewiston’s eight goals in the playoffs.
“I didn’t miss a shift all season,” said Giliati. “So to get hurt in the playoffs, it’s tough.”
Lewiston moved Chris Tutalo up from the fourth line to join Stefan Chaput and Marc-Andre Daneau on the second line. Giliati also plays a significant role on the Maineiacs first penalty-kill unit and second power-play squad.
“The whole season we’ve always been competitive,” said Lewiston coach Clem Jodoin. “We never gave up. We were always in every battle. It’s a young team. We have to learn to live with this.”
Losing Giliati had the Maineiacs without two key players. Lewiston already had to fill the void left by suspended defenseman Jonathan Paiement.
“It wasn’t just Giliati,” said Jodoin. “There’s Paiement. There’s a lot of things. There were bad calls – icing. We didn’t score goals. There were a lot of things.”
Giliati said he wanted to come back and play but even after the game was over he could barely move his shoulder. Had Lewiston forced a decisive final game, he was holding out hope that he could play.
“I told myself I’d play (Tuesday), but I don’t know what the doctor had to say about it,” he said.
Instead, he just watched and at times, liked what he saw.
“We had momentum. I thought we were going to take it when we went ahead 4-3. We kept coming back. We kept on working, and we worked hard. They got the lucky bounce at the end. There was nothing we could do. We worked hard all season for this, and we worked hard in the playoff too. At least we can go out with our heads up and know we gave it everything.”