Lewiston Maineiacs fans call them “annoying.”

Head coach Clem Jodoin calls them hard-working, and his team’s “black sheep.”

The rest of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League calls them the Moncton Wildcats, and the biggest thorn in the Maineiacs’ side is in town tonight, hoping to remain locked into third place in the Eastern Division.

“It’s a good team. The goalie’s been pretty good. They have three solid defensemen in the back, and they work hard,” Jodoin said. “It’s a team that looks like us a little bit. They work hard. They do their own thing, and we know it won’t be easy.”

The game is the first of a three-game homestand that includes games Friday against St. John’s and Sunday against Prince Edward Island.

But for some people, the game Wednesday is the biggest hurdle of the three. In six games this season, Lewiston has just one win to go with two regulation losses and three more in a shootout.

“I don’t want to be psycho about them,” Jodoin said. “We have to play our game. There’s always in the league some team that’s a black sheep. For us, that’s probably Moncton.”

The Maineiacs currently sit in first place overall with 94 points, ahead of division rival Cape Breton by four points with a game in hand.

Despite the advantage, one thing Jodoin is looking to avoid is a back-door approach to the playoffs.

“If you win something, but it’s with the help of some other teams, that’s not a way to win a championship,” Jodoin said. “If you want to win the championship, let’s do it by the front door, by winning our games. This is what I want.”

And to do that, Jodoin said, the winning has to start tonight.

“The three home games are huge for us,” Jodoin said. “That could build what we’re looking for.”

Moncton’s Matt Marquardt has been a Maineiac-killer this season, scoring six goals in six games against Lewiston. Along with a solid blue line and a strong work-ethic instilled by coach John Torchetti, the Wildcats won’t go down easily.

“We have to stay out of the box. They have a good power play against us,” Jodoin said. “It’s back to competing, execution and doing the little things. MacDonald is a key guy; Welton’s a key guy, Marquardt is key. We have to have special care against these guys.”

Lewiston will be short three regular players to start the homestand, with Stefan Chaput (concussion), Marc-Andre Daneau (knee) and Jonathan Bernier (ankle) still sidelined.

“I hope they are going to be back for the beginning of the playoffs,” Jodoin said. “But from the negative we have to find something positive. (Jakub) Bundil, (David) Taylor, (Danick) Paquette, they have to show us more. They have to rise up and prove they can play.”

So far so good for all three of them.

“Bundil scored a couple of big goals, Paquette has been playing well and Taylor. These guys have a chance to have a little more ice time, which will give us more depth for the playoffs.”

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