Marc-Andre Cliche is now in uncharted territory, far beyond the Calgary, Alberta, ice arena he has called home for the last week.

Cliche was named Friday to Team Canada’s final roster for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships, the first Lewiston Maineiac to be so-named since the franchise relocated to the United States in 2003.

Perhaps a bigger surprise, though, is that his Lewiston teammate, goaltender Jonathan Bernier, was one of the final cuts, ending for one more season his dream to backstop Team Canada.

“We didn’t want four lines of all scoring,” said Maineiacs’ head coach and Team Canada assistant Clem Jodoin. “Marc-Andre Cliche is Marc-Andre Cliche. He’s a great two-way player, and he’ll have a fourth-line role with this team.”

Cliche is one of four players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League who made the team, joining Val d’Or skaters Brad Marchand and Kristopher Letang and Moncton defenseman Luc Bourdon.

The fourth line, where Jodoin appears to have Cliche pegged, isn’t necessarily a knock on Cliche’s talent, he said.

“The fourth line, they have a big role,” said Jodoin. “The first three lines are the key lines, but we need to play defense and have good players for the PK. They are a role-playing line that we need.”

Bernier was thought to be one of three netminders with a chance to win the starting job, along with Carey Price of the Tri-City Americans and Leland Irving of the Everett Silvertips.

It just wasn’t his turn.

“It was a tough decision,” said Jodoin in a telephone interview from Calgary. “I told (Bernier) coming here, I said that you have to be perfect all the time. There is no margin for error here. It’s a short camp.”

Bernier played well in the first intrasquad game Tuesday night at the Father David Bauer Arena, stopping all but one shot in half a game’s work to help his squad to a 3-2 win.

But Wednesday, in the second intrasquad matchup, Bernier didn’t have a solid night. He allowed three goals in 30:17 and was on the losing end of a 6-3 game.

Thursday, with one final chance to impress, Bernier stood toe-to-toe against Irving and Price. Bernier allowed three more goals in half of a game. On the other end, Price and Irving combined for the win and faced 42 shots.

“It was a tough situation for (Bernier) because he didn’t see as many shots,” said Jodoin. “But the other goalies, they saw a lot of shots, and they stopped a lot of shots.”

Despite the setback, Jodoin was quick to praise Bernier, and alluded to the good chance Bernier will have to make the final roster next season.

“The key is, how he will bounce back,” said Jodoin. “He’s still a good goalie, the third-best in Canada, and he still has to perfect his play. He will go through the process again next year, and he will have this year’s experience.”

Letang was named the team’s captain later in the day Friday.

One of the final cuts Friday was Gatineau forward Claude Giroux, whom Jodoin called a victim of a numbers game.

“We can’t keep all of the small players,” said Jodoin. “The team needed some size. He played well at the beginning of camp, but at the end he was fading.”

Jodoin said the same of 18-year-old forward Mathieu Perreault of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, who was part of the first round of cuts.

Cliche will travel with Team Canada to Sweden after another week of practice, while Bernier returned home Friday after the formal announcement.

According to Jodoin, there was a slight chance that Bernier could be back in time to play in tonight’s game against Rouyn-Noranda at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, the Maineiacs’ final home game before the holiday break.


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