LEWISTON – At this stage of the hockey season, it is better to be cruising than in cruise control.

After a convincing 6-0 win over Moncton on Wednesday, the Lewiston Maineiacs are finishing with a flurry. With just five games left in the regular season, Lewiston has won five of its last six games and five straight.

“We played a tremendous game tonight,” said defenseman Chad Denny, who had a goal and three assists in the victory. “We knew we need to continue our streak. We had a hell of a road trip the last three games. We found a way to come out with three wins, and tonight was a big night.”

The Maineiacs took three victories in three nights over the weekend and only added to that momentum while taming the Wildcats at home. With just two home games left and three left on the road, the Maineiacs are peaking at the right time.

“We’re winning as a team,” said forward Simon Courcelles. “It’s not an individual effort. The whole team is playing better.”

Lewiston is also doing it without a full lineup. Jonathan Bernier, the team’s top netminder, has been out since Jan. 25 and may return soon. Center Stefan Chaput (concussion) and wing Marc-Andre Daneau (knee) have also been out of action. Yet, the Maineiacs haven’t missed a beat. Rookie goalie Peter Delmas was stellar in net to post the shutout while Lewiston outshot 40-21.

“It’s always good to see the guys stepping it up,” said Courcelles. “We have some guys out of the lineup, some very key players like Chaput and Daneau. Guys are stepping up, and we’re playing better on the PK. We’re doing the little things a little better, and right now, our goalie is hot which helps.”

Lewiston needs just five points to clinch first place and earn the Jean Rougeau Trophy as the regular season champions. It would give the Maineiacs home ice throughout the playoffs. It’s an added incentive that has Lewiston focused right until the end.

“We still have something to play for,” said Courcelles. “It’s good the pressure is on the players to turn their game up a notch, and we’re playing better as a team. It’s a confidence booster.”

A resounding win against Moncton only adds to the positive reinforcement.

“They’ve given us a hard time all year,” said Denny. “We had a great game plan coming into the game, and we capitalized on the game plan and came out with the ‘W.'”

Moncton had won five of six meetings between the two teams this season. One of those ended Lewiston’s lengthy winning streak early in the season. Posted on the wall in the locker room was a sheet that listed all the games between Moncton, and the list of losses couldn’t be overlooked.

So the win over Moncton meant a great deal but equally significant was the way the Maineiacs did it. Lewiston outskated and outhit the Wildcats for much of the night, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead in the opening period.

“We’ve struggled so much against Moncton,” said Courcelles. “The’ve come here and beat us quite a bit. Having a win like that means so much.”


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