LEWISTON -Most of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies look at No. 3 and see the Lewiston Maineiacs burly defenseman with a high-powered slapshot.

Ashton Bernard simply sees an old friend.

The Huskies young forward grew up in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia, on the same Indian reservation as Chad Denny.

“I’ve know him since Day 1,” Bernard said. “It was my older brother that grew up with Chad, and I was just always tagging along.”

Bernard lost his brother in an ATV accident at the age of 13. Since then, Denny has been like an older brother.

“When I was a player in bantams, and he got drafted by Lewiston, I really looked up to him,” Bernard said.

The two have spent many hours together hunting, fishing, playing hockey and working out together.

“He’s from the same community that I’m from,” Denny said. “So I’ve know him pretty well. It’s a small community. So everybody pretty much knows everybody.”

Denny has tried to serve as a bit of a mentor to Bernard. Being a few years older and a veteran in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Denny has kept in touch with Bernard and offered advice.

“He lost his brother so I tried to help him out a little bit as he was growing up,” Denny said. “We’ve been e-mailing each other. I call him every now and then. When he’s having a hard time, I told him, ‘Don’t be scared to call me.’ I’ve been through it. I was 16. He’s 16. He’s twice the distance from where I was at 16.”

The two have not been in contact recently. Bernard was a late scratch in the first two games of the semifinals. Both are anxious to see action against the other.

“It will be nice to play against him,” Denny said. “It will be pretty neat, something I’ll remember.”

Bernard hopes to be in the lineup when the series moves to Rouyn-Noranda next week. The rookie left winger played in 26 games during the regular season and had 50 penalty minutes.

“I know he wants to play against me and have a little fun,” Bernard said. “I’d still take him as a friend, but I won’t give him a break or anything. I’m sure he won’t give me a break either.”

The only time the two have played against each other in the QMJHL was this year in two regular-season meetings. Bernard already knows too well about the potent slapper Denny likes to unleash from the blue line.

“I got hit in roller hockey with an orange ball,” Bernard said. “When Chad winds up, you better clear the way. I think he’s got one of the strongest shots in the league. I’m glad I’m not playing on the penalty kill.”


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