ROUYN-NORANDA, Quebec – The Lewiston Maineiacs are going to the President’s Cup final.

Marc-Andre Cliche capped a solid night with a crucial faceoff win at 19:57 of the third period, pushing the puck forward to an empty spot away from goaltender Jonathan Bernier to clinch a hard-fought 4-3 victory over the Huskies.

“I saw all of the Huskies on Bernier’s side,” Cliche said. “I just told myself I needed to go down on the ice to block it.”

The victory gave the Maineiacs a four-game sweep of their best-of-seven semifinal series against the Huskies, the second time this playoff season that the Maineiacs have swept an opponent. “I’m a happy camper right now,” Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin said. “What I’m amazed, we (reached the finals) in 13 games.”

After a wacky first period, which saw each team score three goals, Lewiston settled into its rhythm. The Maineiacs kept the Huskies off the power play in the middle frame, and Cliche scored the only goal on a breakaway.

“It was a good pass from (Pierre-Luc) Faubert from the D-zone to (David) Perron,” Cliche said. “Perron made a stick pass off the boards and I just kept skating.”

When he got to Rouyn-Noranda keeper Jean-Philippe Levasseur, Cliche remembered that the goalie was weaker on the stick side.

So he deked him and went glove side.

“I think he knew we were shooting on his stick side,” Cliche said. “I shot twice there (Tuesday) and he stopped them, so I told myself I would deke him, and it worked.”

The goal was the last for either team all night. Bernier saw little action in the Lewiston net after the first period, until late in the third. “It was crazy (at the end),” Bernier said, “but I like those moments. That’s why we play hockey. Everybody was pumped up. It was just fun.”

Bernier finished with 27 saves on 30 shots.

“He’s been building and building,” Jodoin said. “He’s the Joe that everyone was expecting to carry this team to the final. He faced a lot of adversity. He got cut from the World Junior team, and he took it hard, but he had something to prove, to bring us to the podium. Now we have a chance to go to the podium.”

Jakub Bundil stunned the crowd – and perhaps himself – when he scored 17 seconds into the game.

The Huskies made sure that the lead didn’t last, though, as Michael Dubuc registered his 10th of the playoffs 31 seconds later to even the score at 1-1.

Rouyn-Noranda twice went ahead in the first, once on a goal from Mathieu Carle and again on a Justin Munden goal, but a goal by Stefan Chaput on a great feed from Stefano Giliati knotted the game at two after Carle’s strike, and David Perron tossed in a goal with 7.6 seconds to play in the opening frame to tie it at 3-3.

“When you have five minors to kill in the first period, it’s tough,” Jodoin said. “Five-on-five, I thought we had control of the game.”

The teams combined for seven penalties in the second and third periods, including a rare playoff fight between Patrick Cusack and the Huskies’ Jarrad Struthers.

Lewiston will host either Cape Breton or Val d’Or in the President’s Cup final series, tentatively scheduled to begin on Friday, May 4 in Lewiston.


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