LEWISTON – The Lewiston Maineiacs’ depth has been put to the test during their recent run of 11 straight games.

In two of the team’s wins, forward Stefano Giliati sat out after being suspended.

Defenseman Sebastien Piche has been in the stands for the last four games, shelved with an upper-body injury

Now, with Piche scheduled to be back in the lineup this weekend, Chad Denny has suffered an injury to his knee and is expected to miss at least this weekend’s pair of games, perhaps more.

Stefan Chaput hasn’t skated since Sunday’s game in Victoriaville, though there is no official word on his status for this weekend’s games.

“You hate to lose a guy, but we’ll be able to plug someone else right into that spot and move on for now,” said Maineiacs’ assistant coach Ed Harding. “That’s a mark of a good team.

“When he gets better, and he will get better, we’ll put him right back out there.”

The Maineiacs had largely been spared by the injury bug prior to the streak’s beginning. The top 10 players on the Maineiacs’ roster in terms of points scored had missed a total of five games – including Giliati’s suspension – before Piche went down against Halifax.

“Injuries are a part of the game,” said Harding. “What are you going to do? This is why we set the organization up so we have enough depth and we have enough quality kids behind a Chad Denny who can rise to the occasion.”

Easing in

One player who will benefit with added ice time this weekend is former first-round pick Patrick Cusack.

The 17-year-old rookie, who was the second Lewiston selection in the first round of the 2005 midget draft, played last season in Midget AAA, and this year missed significant time after the loss of a family member.

When Cusack returned, the Maineiacs had just started the current winning streak.

“If the team keeps winning, I don’t care if I don’t play right away,” Cusack said then. “The team winning is more important.”

Now that he’s had a chance to acclimate himself, Cusack has been rewarded with plenty of ice time.

“We could have put him in earlier, but I didn’t think he was ready,” said Harding. “We left him out of a couple games and then we thought he was ready to jump in. His conditioning was good, his mentality was good and he was ready to go.”

Aubin’s return unlikely

With the news that former Lewiston sniper Mathieu Aubin had been sent to play for the Montreal Canadiens’ ECHL affiliate in Cincinnatti, many people have started speculating that the 20-year-old could end up back in a Maineiacs’ uniform.

“Mathieu Aubin belongs to the Montreal Canadiens, he doesn’t belong to us,” said Jodoin. “He’s being paid by the Montreal Canadiens and he has a contract with them, so it is up to them what happens.”

Jodoin pointed out that the difference between Aubin’s contract situation and that of Jonathan Bernier, who signed with the Los Angeles Kings this summer, is a matter of law.

“Bernier, he signed for his bonus, but the Kings do not pay him,” said Jodoin. “With Mathieu, Montreal signs his paychecks. That is the difference right there. It’s two different things.”

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