LEWISTON – You couldn’t blame the 2,535 fans for scratching their heads a bit at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday night.

Friday, the St. John’s Fog Devils might have lost to a bantam all-star team. They weren’t fast or skilled enough to keep up with the league-leading Lewiston Maineiacs, and their goaltender – both of them – couldn’t stop a beach ball.

Saturday’s tale was woven with an entirely different loom, but the end result remained the same.

Jonathan Bernier stopped 37 of 38 shots – the most he’s faced all season – and Marc-Andre Daneau capped a two-goal game with an empty-netter at 19:15 of the third period to lift the Maineiacs to a 3-1 win over a decidedly improved Fog Devils team. The win is Lewiston’s 13th in a row, and ninth straight at home. The latter sets a new franchise record.

“They were very different tonight; they worked very hard,” Daneau said. “They showed up to play and were ready. They broke up the ice pretty good, and they had a good forecheck going.”

“We saw tonight that (Bernier) is a first-round NHL pick,” said Maineiacs’ forward Eric Castonguay, who potted the game-winning goal in the second period.

St. John’s, after losing 9-1 on Friday, didn’t make it as easy for the Maineiacs on Saturday.

“We had the same game plan as the night before,” said St. John’s coach Real Paiement, “but this time we executed it a lot better. We didn’t allow them to use their speed in the neutral zone.”

“Winning is not that easy,” said Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin. “(Fog Devils’ goalie Ilia) Ejov made some outstanding saves, and we can say we stayed in the game because of Jonathan Bernier.”

Ejov turned aside 25 of the 27 shots he saw, including more than a few highlight-quality stops in the third period.

“He played well in the third period to keep us in the game,” said Paiement.

But Bernier’s play with the Maineiacs down two skaters for 1:48 in the second period turned the tide for the team.

“He made some great saves and that was the turning point,” said Jodoin. “If they score, it’s a different game.”

“Sometimes, you just have to be able to steal a game,” said Bernier. “We had a slow start, and in the second we had so many PKs, but we played better in the third.”

The teams were knotted at one at that point. After the kill, Castonguay netted his ninth of the season at 8:30 of the middle frame to put the Maineiacs ahead for good.

The puck wobbled to Castonguay after a failed shot attempt by Pierre-Luc Faubert. Castonguay was camped out at the left post.

“It was a lucky goal,” admitted Castonguay. “It was a nice play by Faubert to put the puck on the net, but it went off the defenseman and behind the net, and I got the bounce.”

The Fog Devils turned the tables quickly on Lewiston in the first period. St. John’s forward Ryan Graham and Maineiacs’ defenseman Sebastien Piche wrestled each other to the ground behind Bernier, which set up a 4-on-4 with a faceoff to the Lewiston netminder’s left. Wes Welcher won the faceoff clean back to defenseman Luke Gallant, who skated through the slot and ripped a wrist shot off the intersection of the left post and crossbar above Bernier’s right shoulder. The puck deflected downward and kicked into the net.

The Fog Devils played a much more physical first period than they did Friday night, and avoided being in a hole for the second night in a row.

Lewiston, meanwhile, seemed tentative, and many of the players’ passes missed their targets.

Marc-Andre Daneau tipped a Michal Korenko one-timer and the puck dribbled behind Ejov and into the net at 4:07 of the second period, knotting the score at one.

“I was trying to make a screen on the goalie,” said Daneau. “Michal did a great job with a low shot on the ice and I got a tip on it.”

The Maineiacs will next skate Wednesday at the Coilisee, facing off against Moncton, which has handed Lewiston three of its seven total losses, twice via the shootout.


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