LEWISTON – Every good team needs a nemesis.

The Lewiston Maineiacs appear to have found one in the Moncton Wildcats this season.

The Maineiacs are off to their best start ever, at 23-5-0-2. The Wildcats have pulled off three wins in four games between the two teams this season, including both the Maineiacs’ shootout losses.

Moncton visits Lewiston again tonight.

“We’re very concerned about the game (tonight), considering the fact that Moncton’s lost two in a row now,” said Maineiacs’ assistant coach Ed Harding. “They’re going to come into this building, and if our guys think it’s going to be easy, we’re going to be in trouble.”

The Maineiacs continue to ride their longest winning streak ever, which now stands at 13 games. Their latest effort was a 3-1 win over the St. John’s Fog Devils on Saturday night, in which goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves on 38 shots to earn the win.

“I have to say, though, in that game against St. John’s, we shut them down in the third period,” said Harding. “We out-chanced them. We had talked this year about how to play with a lead, and I think we did that well.”

One thing Harding thinks the Maineiacs still don’t do well is cover opposing forwards inside their own zone.

“(Moncton is) big and strong down low,” said Harding, “and here’s one area where the Lewiston Maineiacs are very weak is in our own zone, defensively, sorting things out, who has whom when the puck ends up behind the net, things like that.”

One player in particular has burned Lewiston more than any other on the Moncton roster this season: Matt Marquardt.

The hulking Moncton forward has five goals and an assist in the teams’ four games.

“Marquardt is a handful, and from what I’ve seen this year, he’s really improved,” said Harding. “We’re going to have our hands full with him, but you talk about Samson, who’s improved some, too.”

Rookie Randy Cameron has seven points against Lewiston to lead the team, while Marquardt and defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Nathan Welton all have six.

“When you have some good defensemen, that’s always a big advantage,” said Harding. “We’re going to have our hands full with their quality defensemen moving the puck up. They’re not going to spend much time in their own zone.”

Tonight’s game is the first of three over the next five days. Friday, Lewiston will travel to Rimouski to take on the Oceanic, who have won just six games all season.

Two days later, the Maineiacs will travel to Bathurst to face the Titan, who will be without sniper Mathieu Perreault. Likewise, though, Lewiston will be missing Marc-Andre Cliche, Bernier and coach Clem Jodoin. All three will be in Calgary for the start of Hockey Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp.


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