LEWISTON – The eerie calm in the Lewiston Maineiacs’ locker room following a loss is commonplace.

Add to that the pressure of an impending final cut, though, and the silence becomes downright scary.

Mathieu Carle fired a shot from the blue line through a screen and past Maineiacs’ netminder Marc-Andre Perron at 8:16 of the third period Thursday night to lead the Acadie-Bathurst Titan to a 5-4 win over Lewiston at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“This was a good benchmark for the younger players,” said Maineiacs’ assistant coach Jeff Guay. “They basically had their whole lineup of top forwards in there, and we got to evaluate some of the guys who haven’t played major junior hockey, and they got pressured a lot in different situations. We saw some good things, and we saw some things that weren’t so good.”

But those players about whom Guay spoke filtered in and about the Maineiacs’ locker room, seemingly less concerned about having lost the first game of a doubleheader than about Friday night’s decisions.

“Everybody out here’s trying to make a spot on this team,” said 19-year-old Maineiacs forward Chris Tutalo, who played the last half of last season with the team. “These games are pretty much our stepping stones into the season, and these last two games have been completely crucial to earning your spot on the team.”

Officials called just five penalties in the first period Thursday, the cleanest period in which the Maineiacs have played all preseason. In the scoring column, each team managed one and finished the frame deadlocked at one.

Tomy Joly slid a weak shot under Perron’s pads at 3:58 to put the Titan ahead 1-0. The Titan carried much of the play early as the Maineiacs appeared to need time to regain their legs.

“We were a little bit at first behind the puck, second on the puck,” said Guay. “We got going a bit, and started winning our battles.”

The momentum swung slowly in Lewiston’s favor as the period wore on, and 16-year-old rookie Danick Hudon-Paquette potted an even-strength goal at 18:18 to knot the score. Paquette took advantage of a scramble in front, and with a player and the goaltender down in front of the cage, lifted the puck into the top left corner.

Chris Tutalo’s highlight-reel-quality goal at 14:40 of the second period capped a flurry of scoring in the second, and the teams skated into the final intermission still deadlocked, this time at four goals each.

Tutalo’s goal came on a well-executed give-and-go with Jakub Bundil. Tutalo picked up the return feed from Bundil at the top of the left circle, toe-dragged the puck through one last defender, shifted to his right and back to his left to beat Tardif, and then moved the puck back to the right into the open goalmouth.

“Originally, I thought I was just going to let a shot go,” said Tutalo, “but the defenseman stood straight up, and he was right in my shooting lane. I pulled it inside on him; he couldn’t move or go anywhere. The goalie, I think he thought I was going to shoot, too, and he came way out of the net.”

The two teams will face off again tonight at 7 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, marking an end to the Maineiacs’ preseason schedule. Maineiacs’ head coach and general manager Clem Jodoin is expected to announce his final cuts following the game.

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