HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Peter Delmas blushed. Triston Manson started laughing like he’d been caught with his hand in a cookie jar.

“I definitely wanted to play for the Mooseheads when I grew up,” Delmas admitted.

“My whole life was about wanting to be a Moosehead,” Manson echoed.

While neither of the two ever played one minute for their hometown Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, both get the unique chance this week to play playoff hockey back home – against the very team they idolized as kids.

“(In Lewiston), a lot of the kids want to be Maineiacs,” Manson said. “There, it’s all about the Mooseheads. Now, playing against them, I just want to beat them.”

Biding his time

It appears unlikely that Delmas will see any ice time between the pipes for the Lewiston Maineiacs in this series, or in any other playoff round this season.

But the 17-year-old (16 in terms of junior eligibility) Bedford, Nova Scotia native is taking it all in stride.

“Whether you’re playing or not, you have to prepare the same way each game,” Delmas said. “Stay focused when you’re on the bench, keep your head in it and be in the game 24-7.”

It was in Halifax that Delmas got his biggest break of the season. On Jan. 25, in a game at the Halifax Metro Centre, Delmas relieved starting goalie Jonathan Bernier after Bernier suffered an injury to his ankle. Delmas, too, went down hurt, though he toughed it out and stayed in the game.

All Delmas did over the next seven weeks was win 15 games and post three shutouts.

“You never want to see a teammate go down hurt,” Delmas said, “but you have to be ready, just in case.”

As a young hockey player, Delmas grew up watching the Mooseheads – then coached by Maineiacs’ skipper Clem Jodoin – and dreamed of one day wearing that same jersey.

“There were a lot of good guys when I used to go watch,” Delmas recalled. “(Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien) Giguere used to play there, and (Calgary Flames forward Alex) Tanguay played there, (Maineiacs’ coach) Clem (Jodoin) used to coach there, so I see a few familiar faces out there. They have a lot of history.”

And being at home also means a few friendly faces.

“I’ll see a lot of my friends and stuff after the game,” Delmas said. “I’ll see my mom and dad, my brother. It’ll be good to see them. I haven’t seen them in a while.”

Know your role

Manson, meanwhile, is used to this junior hockey thing. As a 20-year-old, he has been in the league longer than Delmas, and is used to being away from home for long stretches.

“I’m not worried so much about the fact that I’m going home, because it’s all going to be about the team anyway, but there are just going to be more people in the stands who I know to watch me play,” Manson said. “I’m excited to be playing at home for that.”

He’s played in front of – and with – family before. His brother, Anton, plays for Shawinigan, the Maineiacs’ first-round victim in this year’s playoffs. In the two games of that series in Lewiston, the boys’ father made the trip from Halifax to Maine to watch the games.

“He’s home,” Triston said of his brother. “He’s ready to come watch me play. He probably wishes he’d be out there playing, but he’ll be in the stands watching.”

As a joke, Triston bought Anton a Maineiacs’ T-shirt with “Manson” lettered onto it as a joke. Now, he might get to see him wear it in public, along with several other potential fans and family members of players from across the Maritime Provinces.

“Halifax is a tough place to play on the road,” Manson said. “To have a little bit of support up there, to see a few Lewiston shirts in the crowd and hear a few screams will be nice. It helped to have a few when some people came up to Shawinigan, too.”

Manson has seen limited action this season, though his time on the ice has been steady in the playoffs. The Maineiacs brought Manson in for his toughness, and for his willingness to drop the gloves.

“He’s good in his role,” Jodoin said. “He’s a good enforcer, he’s good in the dressing room, he did what he had to do.”

Even now, during the playoffs, other teams are feeling his presence on the ice as an intimidating force.

“On the bench, he’s ready to react,” Jodoin said. “If somebody is pushing one of our boys, he’s reacting to it, which is good.”

Going forward, Manson is ready to do whatever it is Jodoin and company want him to do.

“The Mooseheads are a big thing in Halifax, especially in the playoffs,” Manson said. “Everybody comes out full tilt and real excited. It’s going to be tough to play there, but we’re ready.”

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