LEWISTON – Home has finally started to become friendly for the Lewiston Maineiacs.

Since starting the season with losses in seven of their first eight home games, the Maineiacs have won eight of 11 at the Colisee, including their last four games by a combined score of 19-9.

“It’s nice to be home and we’re winning some games here,” said Maineiacs assistant coach Ed Harding. “It’s nice for our fans to give them some entertainment and show them we’re working pretty hard for them.”

The next two teams to visit the Colisee this week – the Quebec Remparts and the Victoriaville Tigres – are studies in contrast. The Remparts, the only team about which the coaching staff would speak of, will provide the toughest test. With speed to match grit and with an apparent desire to make a run through the playoffs this year, the Remparts will be looking to start a run with a solid game tonight.

“They’ll still be missing a couple of guys as we will be,” said Harding. “Where they’re experienced is on D.’ Their D’ has grown up together, and has been together for two or three years.

“They did a very good job in Quebec of moving the puck up to their forwards quickly, so we’re going to have to do a better job of closing the gap and squeezing them in the middle a little bit and if we can do that, we may have some success.”

In the teams’ only other meeting this season, Quebec fell behind by two after the first period, only to score five consecutive goals in the second period on its way to a 6-4 win.

“We came out in the first period very well,” said Harding. “We took advantage of a couple of power plays, and then we fell asleep. We didn’t work as hard as we should have worked.”

And the onus was on more than just the defense in that game.

“The forwards might have let us down in the game up in Quebec,” said Harding. “They didn’t work as hard or as smart as they should have. That’s something we addressed (Sunday) and will address (Monday) looking at our game plan against Quebec.”

Also part of the game plan for the Maineiacs will be trying to slow an experienced defensive corps that likes to jump into the play.

“We need to be careful about that,” said Harding. “They’ve had some valuable experience in this league for a couple of years now, so they know how to play in this league. You can’t put a price on that.”

Currently, Quebec is 27-10-0-0 with 54 points, good for second in the Western Conference behind Chicoutimi. Rouyn-Noranda is hot on the Remparts’ heels with 53 points. The Maineiacs defeated both Chicoutimi and Rouyn-Noranda the week before the Christmas break as part of their current four-game home winning streak.

The Maineiacs, meanwhile, are 18-16-0-4 for 40 points. Lewiston is seven points behind fourth-place Halifax, while Saint John sits eight points back in sixth. The Maineiacs have a game in hand on each of those teams.

NOTES: The Remparts’ head coach is Patrick Roy, the former Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche goalie who holds several NHL records and won four Stanley Cups, two with each team. Roy has been part owner and general manager of the team for a couple of years, and took over behind the bench this season after Eric Lavigne struggled behind the bench in the early part of the season…The Remparts made a trade Monday, bringing in center Brent Aubin from the Rouyn-Noranda. In return, they sent three prospects to the Huskies…According to published reports, the sweepstakes for all-league defenseman Luc Bourdon of Val d’Or is over. Moncton will reportedly ship Ian-Mathieu Girard, Jean-Sebastien Adam and their first-round pick in the 2006 entry draft to Val d’Or in return for the all-star defenseman. Also, as part of the deal, Val d’Or will send the Wildcats their first-rounder back during the draft in return for 17-year-old forward Brad Marchand.


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