The Lewiston Maineiacs will enter this year’s playoffs as the regular-season champions, and also as the hottest team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Sebastien Piche scored a pair of goals 19 seconds apart in the third period and Eric Castonguay added another 41 seconds after that to lift the Maineiacs to a 6-4 triumph over the PEI Rocket in front of 3,053 at the Charlottetown Civic Centre on Sunday.

“To play three games on the road to finish the season that don’t really mean anything, and to win all three of those games, and to give only five goals in those games, that’s a good way to end the season,” Lewiston coach Clem Jodoin said. “We also gave less than 200 goals on the season, which in an offensive league like this is a very, very good thing to do.”

The win is the team’s 10th straight, marking the second time this season that Lewiston has won 10 or more games in a row. The win also gives Lewiston 50 on the season, and 106 points, one shy of the 107 Moncton had last season as the regular-season champion.

“Now, though, those are just numbers, just stats,” Jodoin cautioned. “Mission No. 1 is complete, so it’s on to Mission 2, the playoffs.”

For the second consecutive game, a flurry in the third period made the difference. Friday, against PEI, Lewiston used a three-goal outburst in a 1:44 span to erase a 1-0 deficit.

On Sunday, after giving up a one-goal lead to trail by one midway through the third, Piche fired a puck that hit goalie Evan Mosher, hit a PEI defender and found its way into the net at 8:50 of the period.

Nineteen seconds later, Piche took a feed from Chris Tutalo and blasted the puck by Mosher again, putting Lewiston back in front at 5-4.

“There was never a doubt on the bench,” Jodoin said. “We didn’t panic, and like a lot of other games this year, we found a way to win.”

Castonguay’s goal came on a funny bounce after Jakub Bundil hit the goalie from the left corner. Castonguay roofed the puck past Mosher at 9:50 and the Maineiacs never looked back.

The teams traded a pair of goals in the first period.

David Perron put Lewiston ahead 1-0 at 9:50 on the team’s first power-play goal. After Benoit Gervais pounded home a long rebound at 13:42 shorthanded to knot the score, Simon Courcelles notched his 20th of the season to make it 2-1 for Lewiston, and David Laliberte reached 50 for the season with 33 seconds to play to again even the game for PEI.

Perron struck again at 8:43 of the middle frame, a period during which Lewiston dominated the Rocket in time of possession and shots on goal. Through two periods, Lewiston held a 32-19 advantage.

Chris Doyle evened the game again at 2:40 of the third with his 18th of the season, and the Rocket pulled ahead at 4:48 on a Martin Latal short-handed goal.

Note: The team expects to announce its playoff schedule today. Due to scheduling conflicts March 29-31 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, a traditional 2-2-1-1-1 series may not be possible, or the series may start a day early to accommodate the building’s availability.

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