LEWISTON – It’s a wonder that Lewiston Maineiacs’ head coach and general manager Clem Jodoin still has a voice.

In Thursday morning’s first practice session, Jodoin barked commands constantly, seemingly frustrated with the players’ inability to grasp the concept he was teaching.

“The players have to have it mentally, too,” Jodoin said. “Everything is important. Everything. I want them to listen, I want them to know that they can ask questions before we do things. Today’s practice was a brainer. The first three days were physical, no-brainers.”

“Now,” Jodoin continued as he pointed to his head, “Now, we’re working with this.”

The Maineiacs open up their exhibition season schedule with a pair of split-squad games tonight and Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, both against the Saint John Sea Dogs, who will also split their squad in half. The other halves of the teams will face off in New Brunswick on the same nights, in Fredericton tonight and again in Saint John tomorrow.

Jodoin decided to keep his younger and more inexperienced players, for the most part, close to home, where the scouts can better evaluate their performance.

“I want to see the babies at home and the older guys on the road (tonight),” said Jodoin. “It’s going well, but for now, this is what we wanted.”

And instead of doing a full switch for Saturday’s game, Jodoin is planning to mix and match the teams, based on who is available.

“I am going to Fredericton,” said Jodoin. “I’m going to keep (assistant coach and general manager) Ed (Harding) here to watch this game, that way there is always one of us around. The scouts will all still be here, so it will be important for me to be on the road with the rest of them.”

During the second practice, Jodoin sat in the stands, watching and grinning as Harding, Jeff Guay and goaltending coach Dan Bouchard went through with the second group the same drills as he did in the earlier session.

“Now we get to see them play,” said Jodoin. “It’s different, against another team.”

Nicks and dings

A few players suffered minor injuries this week, but none of those injuries appear to be serious.

No. 1 pick Danick Hudon-Paquette returned to the ice Thursday after seeing a doctor Wednesday for a leg problem, while Marc-Andre Daneau also returned after getting walloped by Hudon-Paquette in Tuesday night’s scrimmage.

Rob McCarthy continues to sit with a shoulder injury. He said Wednesday that it wasn’t serious, and that he may return to action by this weekend’s games.

‘Something is cooking’

During Wednesday night’s intrasquad game, a fan stepped up to Maineiacs’ principal owner Mark Just and asked – practically begged – for Just to bring in a fighter, someone who can protect the top-end talent on the team.

Just replied that that was at the top of his list of priorities, that he had just finished a meeting with the rest of the Maineiacs’ staff on that very subject.

Almost on cue, Jodoin left the ice after the first practice and hurried to his office. He emerged briefly, and then returned to the office in a hurry.

“Something is cooking,” said Jodoin. “It may not happen until later, maybe Sunday, but something is happening.”

Jodoin wouldn’t release any details beyond that.

Taking to the streets

Saturday will mark the return of the team’s annual street hockey festival in the parking lot outside the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Teams in two divisions will suit up. There will be a barbecue, a DJ and other entertainment.

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