LEWISTON – The measuring stick will be extended to its maximum depth tonight at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee as the Lewiston Maineiacs host the Telus Division-leading Val d’Or Foreurs in the Habitibi region team’s only visit to the United States this season.

Val d’Or and geographic neighbor Rouyn-Noranda will visit Lewiston for the final two games before the teams break for the holidays.

As expected, the Maineiacs’ main focus is on Val d’Or (22-10-2-1), which leads the Telus Division by two points over the Gatineau Olympiques.

“They have two very good 20-year-old players in their lineup in Mathieu Roy and (Sebastien) Bisaillon who can skate very well and can move the puck,” said Maineiacs’ assistant coach Ed Harding. “We have to be very aware of them when they are on the ice.”

Lewiston has struggled in parts of each game it has played in the last two weeks. Included in that stretch were three straight losses and the team’s last game, a 6-3 win over the Saint John Sea Dogs on Tuesday. In that game, the team appeared to shut down in the third period, ahead 6-0.

“We’ve worked on preparing for this weekend by cleaning up things that we didn’t do correctly in the last game,” said Harding. “We didn’t concentrate too much on the other teams. It’s great that the two teams meeting (tonight) are the division leaders, though. It will make for good rhetoric.”

Roy is currently second on the Foreurs in points with 51 points in 28 games, while Bisaillon has 30 in 29 contests. Val d’Or is without leading scorer Brad Marchand and No. 1 defenseman Kristopher Letang, though, as both remain with Team Canada’s selection camp, along with Maineiacs’ netminder Jonathan Bernier and captain Marc-Andre Cliche.

Also missing for Lewiston is defenseman Chad Denny, who is sidelined with a partially-torn MCL until after Christmas.

“Not having Chad at the point, especially on the power play, is a big loss,” said Harding. “In the future we need guys like Sebastien Piche and Kevin Marshall to step into that role.”

The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are loaded with 18-year-olds, and will likely make a run at the top of the league next year and the year after.

But they have played well this season, too, going 19-13-2-3 in 37 games. Their goalie, Jean-Philippe Levasseur, is one of the top eight regular keepers in the league and an Anaheim Ducks prospect.

Hanging on

Cliche and Bernier survived the first cut at Team Canada’s selection camp for the upcoming World Junior Championships. Hockey Canada announced Thursday that 11 players – 10 skaters and a goalie – had been cut from the tryouts following four days of practices and two intrasquad games.

Trade winds

Three days remain until QMJHL teams can start trading players, and the rumors are flying. The Maineiacs confirmed Thursday that they have been in conversations with a few teams about Travis Fullerton, and on Tuesday, Saint John coach Jacques Beaulieu confirmed that he was one of the general managers who had indeed spoken to the Maineiacs about the 19-year-old netminder.

“The market, to me, is the biggest factor,” said Harding. “The situation has to be just right for us to make a move, but we’re not going to sell the farm.”

For more on the local hockey scene – from the Lewiston Maineiacs to local high school action – visit Justin Pelletier’s blog, ‘The Q Factor,’ at www.sunjournal.com


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