LEWISTON – The battle for the top goaltending position with the Lewiston Maineiacs is over.

It was over long before the season started, long before the Los Angeles Kings made Jonathan Bernier their No. 1 pick (11th overall) at this June’s NHL Entry Draft, and long before some of the current goaltenders on the roster could find Lewiston on a map.

“(Bernier) is a No. 1 pick,” said Maineiacs’ head coach and general manager Clem Jodoin. “What more can you say. he is a veteran, and he will have to be a leader.”

But, as solid a goaltender as Bernier is, he will need someone to share the workload. That piece of the puzzle is still buried at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee this week. Six goalies, led by returning back-up Travis Fullerton, are vying for that roster spot.

“You try to put that out of your mind for the most part,” said Fullerton. “He’s obviously an excellent goalie and you try to win a spot just like in any year. You do the best you can and go from there.”

Fullerton recorded nine wins and eight losses in 17 games last season, with a 2.94 goals-against-average and a .900 save percentage. At 19, though, he is the oldest of the contenders for the backup role this year.

“There’s a lot of good goalies here,” said Fullerton. “In years past, there’s always been good goalies here in Lewiston.”

That, said Fullerton, puts even more pressure on the older guys.

“I’m even a little bit older on the spectrum now,” said Fullerton. “I have to work maybe even a little bit harder now to prove that I’m a solid No. 2 and a legitimate starter.”

Two of the young guns in camp this year are Peter Delmas and Mike Muir, both of Bedford, Nova Scotia. Delmas, 16, played for Halifax in Midget AAA, while Muir, 17, started for Cole Harbour, also in Midget AAA.

Both goaltenders have eyes on the No. 2 role.

“I’m excited,” said Delmas. “I just want to get out there and do really well in each of the games and in practice, and hopefully I can earn a spot behind Bernier.”

“You have to go out there and do your own thing and not worry about the rest of them,” said Muir. “As a goalie, you’re out here to stop the puck.”

All of the netminders saw a fair share of rubber on Day 1 of camp. Joining Fullerton, Delmas and Muir are Portland native Nick Broadwater, Marc-Andre Perron and Marc-Andre Sauve.

Fullerton has been the subject of trade rumors for quite some time. In fact, the younger goalies heard rumblings of such a move as far away as the Atlantic Provinces.

“I was talking to the goalie coach with the (Halifax) Mooseheads and he told me they had Bernier and then Fullerton was the backup,” said Delmas. “He had heard that maybe they wanted to trade Fullerton or something and that there might be a spot open, so I’m really looking forward to coming here and competing for that spot. I got drafted into a really good organization with some good goalies around.”

Fullerton dismissed the rumors, though, saying his focus remained on helping the Maineiacs this year, though he, too, had considered the option.

“It’s crossed my mind,” said Fullerton, “but I like the situation here in Lewiston. It’s just that you’re always trying to, not showcase yourself, but prove yourself that you can play a few more games, help out your team a little bit more.”

Fullerton is still resigned to the fact that something may happen, though.

“If that’s what it comes down to, yeah,” said Fullerton. “I love it here in Lewiston, though. The organization is great. If something does happen, and it’s for the best of the team, then we’ll go from there, but as of right now, everything’s good.”

Everything may be good, but the logjam at the top of the goaltending pyramid is still there, and getting more crowded, it seems, by the day.

“Everyone’s out there and having fun, but you have to keep in mind that you’re also out here competing for a spot,” said Muir. “It’s a good competition, and it’s going to be fun to see how it turns out.”


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