A short camp last year, then injuries during his midget AAA season make Cusack hungry

LEWISTON – Last year was a woulda, coulda, shoulda kind of year for Patrick Cusack. After leaving the Lewiston Maineiacs’ training camp early, the young defenseman returned to his Midget AAA team to be closer to home.

One of the Maineiacs’ two first-round picks in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Entry Draft, Cusack played a few games for College Antoine-Girouard before suffering a severe shoulder injury.

“It took me three months to come back from that,” said Cusack.

He played eight games later in the winter, only to reinjure the same shoulder.

“I haven’t played since then, but there are no problems anymore,” said Cusack. “It’s completely healed, and it should be good.”

It may be good, but Cusack has re-entered the Maineiacs’ fold at its deepest. Five players who saw time on the blue line last year are back at camp, including Lewiston’s other first-round choice in 2005, Kevin Marshall.

“It’s great that he’s back now, he’s a very good player,” Marshall said. “For the future, I think me and him have a chance to do a good job here, I think.”

Cusack understands how big a chore it will be to even make the team.

“It’s going to be hard,” said Cusack. “To make the team you have to take someone’s spot.”

To do that, Cusack said it’s going to take some hard work – and a little bit of muscle.

“I’m going to have to throw my body around a little bit,” Cusack said. “I’ll have to keep my head up and make good first passes. They told me exactly what I had to do.”

Throwing weight around will be a bit easier for the 6-foot, 190-pound 17-year-old. Last year, he weighed in at just 175 pounds.

“I worked hard in the gym and put on some weight,” Cusack said. “Obviously I feel a bit more confident. I practiced with a lot of these players – (Mathieu) Aubin, (Eric) Castonguay – in the offseason.”

That, and being more familiar with his surroundings, have in turn made the young blue liner more confident.

“Not having to be so concerned about what I should do next, what to do here, what to do there, that helps,” Cusack said. “I still don’t know everything about this town yet, where to go. But as far as hockey goes, it’s better having been here before.”

This time, Cusack hopes to stick around a bit longer.

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