LEWISTON – Mathieu Aubin deked one way, flipped the puck another and fired a shot against teammate Travis Fullerton in the breakaway portion of the recent Lewiston Maineiacs’ skills competition.

He missed.

Not that anyone missing a breakaway, shootout-style shot would necessarily be big news, but for Aubin, it was huge. It was his first miss all season.

At least this time, it didn’t count.

When it has counted, though, Aubin and teammate Marc-Andre Cliche have been there – over and over again.

“At the beginning of the year, the team was expecting a lot from us,” said Cliche. “I think we took the pressure, me and Aubin, and whoever else was playing with us.”

When a bevy of younger players were getting their feet wet in September and October, Aubin and Cliche carried the goal-scoring weight on their shoulders, thanks in large part to the power play.

“That all we were scoring on at the beginning of the year,” said Jodoin. “We were relying on the power play.”

Untested waters

The fact that Aubin and Cliche had the chance to click at all is nothing short of a minor miracle. Cliche played in 19 games last season thanks to a pair of injuries, and hadn’t finished the previous season, also due to injuries.

“I had to train hard for my shoulder, not to get injured again,” said Cliche. “I did it. My parents were there to support me, and my coaches were calling to check on me, so I knew I had to get it done.”

Over the summer, Cliche and Aubin were each drafted by NHL clubs, with Cliche going in Round 2 to the New York Rangers and Aubin in Round 5 to the Montreal Canadiens.

That made them each work a bit harder. In training camp, Cliche tested his healthy shoulder, sometimes going into the boards tentatively. It held up, and so far this season has continued to hold.

“During the training camp, too, I was not sure to get a hit, or how to get a hit, but I did well then, and it’s good now,” said Cliche.

Tough act to follow

Questions swirled in training camp and for the first half of the season, wondering where the Maineiacs were going to find the scoring lost when Alexandre Picard left for Syracuse and when Alex Bourret was traded to Shawinigan. Those two accounted for 171 points of offense last year.

Now, Cliche and Aubin are on pace to tally 198 points, and Aubin is just 14 points away from breaking the Maineiacs’ single-season point-scoring record. Part of the reason he isn’t there already? A self-admitted point lull in November, when Aubin was gripping his stick a bit too tightly.

“Sometimes we have a bad game or two, and we played two or three or four games without points, me and Cliche, and that didn’t help the team,” said Aubin. “We just refocused. We needed to score more.”

Team contributions

The Maineiacs lived and breathed on Aubin and Cliche’s point production the first two months of the season. Then, things started to click elsewhere.

“Like, three weeks before Christmas, (Stefan) Chaput and (Stefano) Giliati started to get the bounces,” said Aubin. “I think me and Cliche, we have done pretty good all year long, but we have to continue that if we want the team to win.”

Success from a second, and even a third line, also allowed the pair some on-ice freedom.

“At the beginning of the year, a lot of teams were sending their defensive lines against us because they knew that we were the only line that was scoring,” said Aubin, “but now they cannot do that anymore because Chaput’s line and even Champagne’s line can score, and the power play is great, too.”

And going forward, both are optimistic that the team’s continued success not only rides on their own personal achievement, but on the rest of the team’s ability to produce, too.

“Everyone’s getting the confidence back we had last year,” said Cliche.

Cliche now wears the captain’s C,’ and Aubin continues to wear his A.’ Together they are leading the team – in points and in spirit.


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