PORTLAND – Pierre-Luc Faubert was on his way to center ice at the Portland Ice Arena after a hard practice Tuesday. He looked over his shoulder and saw two teammates – defenseman Kevin Marshall and forward David Perron – jawing at each other after a particularly rough drill.

Faubert stopped in his tracks, glided back over to the goal crease and tapped Marshall with his stick.

“Let’s go, guys,” Faubert said in French. “That’s enough, to the middle, stretch.”

Maineiacs’ head coach Clem Jodoin watched from against the boards at the red line. A grin crept across his face.

“I told the veterans, I told them that when someone is stepping out of line, this is when you have to put them back in line,” said Jodoin. “This is the way these guys have to be for us.”

Faubert didn’t feel so much like a veteran back in August. The 20-year-old forward returned to Lewiston this season after spending two seasons in Junior AAA closer to his home in Rigaud, Quebec.

As a 17-year-old rookie in 2003-04, Faubert played on the “kid line” with Marc-Andre Cliche and Mathieu Aubin, and put up 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points in 70 regular-season games.

He left to pursue other interests, but last summer, after a few phone calls from Jodoin and assistant coach Ed Harding, Faubert agreed to return to play for the Maineiacs for one last shot at a title.

“He filled up a really big hole in the team when (Mathieu) Aubin left. We were missing a key guy for the first line,” Cliche said.

The staff immediately slotted Faubert in on the top line, alongside Cliche and Eric Castonguay. He scored five goals in his first two games, but then slowed, scoring just four more in his next 15.

“It’s a big step, from Junior A to Junior Major,” Faubert said. “After the first month and a half, it takes a while to adjust. As a 20-year-old, I think it’s easier to learn that stuff than if I was 16. I felt like a rookie a little bit, but it was easier as a 20-year-old.”

Faubert righted the ship when it counted. He finished this season second on the team behind new linemate David Perron with 66 points, and helped to lead the team in the absence of both Jodoin and Cliche during the World Junior Championships.

“He’s a good person; he likes to play,” Jodoin said. “He likes to compete, and he’s a strong man, so he brings a new dimension to our hockey team.”

With the playoffs looming, Faubert knows his experience, though three years removed, is still a valuable asset.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Faubert said of the team’s seven-game series loss to Rouyn-Noranda in 2004. “We came back. Playoffs is all about character and never giving up. That series, we never gave up, went up to Rouyn-Noranda and won Game 5 and then back here and won Game 6 in overtime. In Game 7, it didn’t finish like we wanted it to end, but we came back and never gave up.”

Similarly, Faubert never really gave up on his major junior career. He just took a small detour. But his return?

“Definitely a good decision,” Faubert said, nodding heavily. “Especially with the team we have.”

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