LEWISTON — Jonathan Bernier is an integral part of the Lewiston Maineiacs penalty-kill unit in every game. Any goaltender should be.

In the second period of Thursday night’s game against Val d’Or, Bernier was the Maineiacs’ penalty kill, stopping 10 consecutive shots by the Foreurs to keep the tight-checking game knotted at one goal.

In the third period, fellow 17-year-old Stefan Chaput provided Bernier with the rest of the offense he would need, getting a power play goal and an empty-net goal to lift the Maineiacs to a crucial 3-1 win over the Foreurs in front of 2,074 at the Colisee.

“We practiced hard for this team,” said Maineiacs coach Clem Jodoin. “We practiced this kind of game all week and the players did what we practiced. We battled through adversity tonight with a couple of 5-on-3s, we killed them and we came back.”

Bernier stopped 27 of 28 shots, while on the other side, Val d’Or netminder Philippe Roberge allowed just one more goal on 32 shots.

“We had some good chances, but Bernier closed the door,” said Val d’Or coach Eric Lavigne. “The two goaltenders played very, very well tonight.”

Bernier was unavailable to speak after the game, as he instead met with a scout from the Atlanta Thrashers’ organization.

“Last year, Roberge came in here with Rouyn-Noranda, he stole the show,” said Jodoin. “We gave him something like 60 shots and it finished 2-2.”

Chaput’s winner at 2:51 of the third period came on the power play, and even that shot hit Roberge before finding the back of the net.

“Me and Giliati usually pass it down low, but I never really take shots from there,” said Chaput. “Coach has been giving me (crap), that I need to shoot more on net and it went in this time.”

Chaput added the empty-netter at 18:47 to cap the scoring.

The win is big for Lewiston as it keeps pace with Halifax. The Mooseheads won Thursday to remain three points ahead of the Maineiacs for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

“Our goal is to catch Halifax,” said Jodoin. “Halifax won tonight 4-3, but we’re still only three points behind. It’s up to us. the challenge is up to us.”

Val d’Or, meanwhile, continued their solid play despite dropping the game, and are in position now to make the playoffs in the Western Division.

“They work, they are on the puck all the time,” said Jodoin. “They are going to challenge a lot of teams from now on in.”

After a long whistleless stretch of hockey to start the game, Sebastien Bisaillon put the visiting Foreurs ahead 1-0 on a 4-on-3 power play, converting at 8:38. The puck found its way through a gaggle of players in front and through Bernier’s pads.

Eric Castonguay took advantage of a good bounce at 15:35 of the first to knot the game. With the Maineiacs on a power play, Brandon Roach got the puck at the point from Marc-Andre Cliche. Thanks to a pick in the high slot by Jonathan Paiement, Roach found room to blast his 100-mile-per-hour shot. Though it missed the net, the puck bounced off the glass behind the net and right to Castonguay in front. Castonguay batted the puck past Roberge for his 19th goal of the season.

Neither team scored in the second period, thanks in large part to both goaltenders. Roberge stopped all of Lewiston’s shots early and late, while Bernier held down the fort through the middle part of the period as the Maineiacs were called for four consecutive minor penalties, creating two separate 5-on-3 advantages for the Foreurs.

Lewiston rebounded with six consecutive shots, four of which were quality scoring chances, in the final three minutes of play, but Roberge was again up to the task.


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