LEWISTON – With a successful first half behind them, the Lewiston Maineiacs will take the ice at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee tonight looking to add to a three-game winning streak.

And they’ll have to do it against the Moncton Wildcats, who have been a thorn in Lewiston’s side all season.

“They bring their lunch buckets, and they’re a difficult team to play against every time,” Maineiacs’ Assistant Coach Ed Harding said. “Whoever shows up here for their 20 guys will be ready. It’s going to be a very tough game for us. They present major problems for anyone else in this league because they may be the team that plays the hardest.”

Since the last time Lewiston and Moncton met, the Wildcats have traded Jerome Samson to Val d’Or to complete last year’s deal for Luc Bourdon.

Bourdon is also gone, playing in Sweden with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships.

Lewiston is also missing a pair of players, as captain Marc-Andre Cliche and defenseman Michal Korenko are also playing for their respective countries.

Despite the team’s success in the first 36 games – 26 wins against just seven losses in regulation and three more in shootouts – Harding was quick to point out that the players returning from their extended holiday break wouldn’t necessarily greeted as heroes.

“I’m looking forward to the boys coming back, because it’s not going to be pretty for them,” said Harding. “We played a terrible game last time out, except for the first period. we’re not following the system, and every aspect of our game can get better. That’s pretty scary. we have just seven losses.”

Harding said he had scheduled video sessions for the whole team, and then for a handful of individuals, as well.

“We’re going to practice (Tuesday night), have a little pregame (today) and focus on Moncton,” Harding said. “I don’t want them to forget (the first half), I want them to remember, to learn from their mistakes.”

Despite losing Bourdon and Samson for tonight’s game, the Wildcats will still have Matt Maquardt and rookie Randy Cameron, who each have seven points in five games against the Maineiacs this season. Defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Nathan Welton have seven and six points respectively against Lewiston, too.

Lewiston rookie David Perron is tops against the Wildcats this season with nine points.

Korenko missed

Cliche is garnering most of the attention as he skates with Team Canada in Sweden this week and next, but Korenko has been quietly doing his job – and well – for Lewiston this season.

“Korenko, at 19 years old, has played very well,” Harding said. “If you don’t notice Korenko, he’s had a good game. He’s had some stretches this year where he’s been very, very good. He plays against most teams’ No. 1 lines, and if he shuts them down, that’s a benefit for us.”

At time, Korenko’s play has garnered some moans and groans from the crowd, but Harding said Tuesday that some of that comes with have a short memory.

“He can be a major asset to this team when he’s on the top of his game,” Harding said. “Look at last year’s series against Halifax. I would probably say coming out of that he was our best defenseman.”

Canada wins, USA loses in OT

Carey Price made 31 saves and two Quebec Major Junior Hockey League players scored goals for Team Canada as it upended host Sweden 2-0 at the World Junior Championships on Tuesday.

Kristopher Letang of Val d’Or had two assists and Brad Marchand (Val d’Or) and Luc Bourdon (Moncton) each had goals for Team Canada, which ran its shutout streak at the tournament to 211:50 dating back to last year’s final round robin game against the United States.

Team USA, meanwhile, dropped a 2-1 decision to Germany in overtime Tuesday. It was Germany’s first win over the Americans in the U-20s. West Germany defeated Team USA three times, the last time in 1981.

Back in the saddle

Lewiston defenseman Chad Denny will be back in the lineup tonight, according to Harding. Denny, who has six assists in just four games against Moncton, and 29 points in 27 total games this season, has been out since late November after injuring his knee.

“We probably held him out longer than we needed to,” Harding said. “But that was more as a precaution. He’ll be ready to go.”

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