If the Lewiston Maineiacs are going to make it into the playoffs on their own terms, Friday night might provide them with their best opportunity, if only for the fact that they are playing at home.
The Maineiacs, who currently sit in the 16th and final playoff position in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, host the Victoriaville Tigres on Friday in their final regular-season game at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, a home that has been relatively kind to the team this season. In 33 games, Lewiston is 15-17-0-1 and has allowed 20 fewer goals than on the road.
The Tigres, meanwhile, have only pride riding on their games this weekend. They are locked into second place in the Telus Central division, and into fourth overall in the league standings. They’ve won two in a row and seven of their last 10, but two of their three trips to the Colisee have not been friendly. Victoriaville won the last meeting in Lewiston 5-1, but two previous trips resulted in a pair of Lewiston wins, 4-2 in October and 3-2 in January.
“It’s a big game for us. We have the chance to make the playoffs on our own,” Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said. “We have to come out with an edge and we have to compete as hard as we can. This is like a playoff game for us.”
And for the hockey faithful who venture out to the Colisee on Friday, the team has something a bit extra planned for what it is calling “Fan Appreciation Night.”
“We appreciate all the support the fans have shown this season, and we wanted to show our appreciation,” Houle said. “We’re excited about how this team is already shaping up for the future, and the core group of that future is already playing with us now. It should be a great night.”
The team, in conjunction with a handful of sponsors, will give away several prizes, including a pair of season tickets for the 2010-2011 season, which will be a part of the regular 50-50 drawing. Fans will also have chance to enter a raffle to win goalie Adrien Lemay’s game-worn jersey.
The night’s biggest attraction is likely to be the Oxford Plains Speedway promotion. The first 3,000 fans through the doors Friday will receive a free ticket to Oxford Plains Speedway’s Fan Appreciation Night on May 22. Race cars will be on display, and OPS drivers Al Hammond and Danny Morris will be on hand.
In addition, the first 1,800 fans will receive a free team photo magnet and a chance to win $100 cash, courtesy of Maine Family Federal Credit Union. The first 500 fans to enter the building will receive a free Central Maine Orthopedics Maineiacs jersey key chain.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.