LEWISTON – It’s not quite like winning the rookie of the year award, but Stefan Chaput is far from complaining.

The Lewiston Maineiacs’ 17-year-old forward, who in recent weeks has developed into a potent scoring threat on the second line with Stefano Giliati, was named the team’s best rookie by RDS, a national media outlet in Canada that covers the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“It is with great pleasure that RDS is associated with the major junior hockey circuit to honor our most promising youngsters,” said Michel Gagnon, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at RDS. “Long associated with the league, RDS would like to reaffirm its commitment by acknowledging these excellent rookies, both at the mid-point of the season as well as at the conclusion of the current campaign. It’s our way, at this network, to recognize the immense potential of hockey players who will no doubt showcase their talent at the NHL level in a few years.”

The network also sponsors the rookie of the year award, which last season went to Derick Brassard of Drummondville.

For Chaput, this mid-season honor brought a smirk to his face.

“This year I came in and saw the little star on the Web site next to my name,” said Chaput, who played in eight regular season games and eight playoff games for Lewiston last season. “It’s alright, though. I get a chance to be a rookie again this year. There’s less pressure this way, I guess.”

Chaput will receive a commemorative sports bag to be handed out at an upcoming home game.

Spotlight on Bernier

Nobody has to tell Lewiston Maineiacs fans that Jonathan Bernier is a good goaltender. Wednesday night, he got a chance to prove it in front of the people to whom it matters the most.

Bernier represented the Maineiacs at the annual Home Hardware CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game in Ottawa. The game is a showcase of young stars from all three junior leagues within the CHL who are eligible for the 2006 NHL draft.

The teams were coached by hockey celebrities Bobby Orr and Don Cherry, and the game was televised in French on RDS and in English on Rogers Sports Net.

Bernier suited up for Team Cherry, along with Joey Ryan of Quebec, Ryan Hillier of Halifax, Francois Bouchard of Baie-Comeau, Derick Brassard of Drummondville and Mathieu Carle of Acadie-Bathurst.

Team Orr included Claude Giroux of Gatineau, Ivan Vishnevskiy of Rouyn-Noranda, Benjamin Breault of Baie-Comeau and James Sheppard of Cape Breton.


Itching to play

Coming out of the locker room after practice Wednesday, Maineiacs defenseman Chad Denny had an almost pained look on his face.

“I want the game to get here,” said Denny. “Let’s get going.”

In part due to the Top Prospects game and in part because of a scheduling quirk, the Maineiacs are in the midst of an eight-day layoff.

“I just want to play,” said Denny as he paced back into the locker room.

Public appearance

According to Lewiston High School Athletic Director Jason Fuller, members of the Lewiston Maineiacs will attend the Blue Devils’ game Friday night and will be available for autographs.

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