LEWISTON – The best save of the evening Friday didn’t even belong to Jonathan Bernier.

Though the Lewiston Maineiacs goaltender made a sprawling attempt at a shot with an open net in the third period, defenseman Kevin Marshall was there to block it instead.

“Marshall got that,” said Bernier. “I wasn’t sure, but Marshall told me that he got it.”

That was the way it was all evening for Lewiston’s talented netminder. Bernier received a lot of help from his friends in the opening salvo of the President’s Cup Finals. Bernier posted the playoff shutout, but faced just 18 shots as the Maineiacs quieted the Val-d’Or offense.

“We didn’t care about the shutout,” said Bernier. “It’s the win. It’s the way we won. We battled hard. Against a team like this, to hold them to 18 shots is pretty good. The PK was good. We have to do some little things better, but for a first game, it was pretty good.”

It is said that the odd numbered games in a playoff series are the most important. Those are the games where a team can take control of a series and put the onus on the other team. Lewiston’s 4-0 victory sent a strong message to the Foreurs.

“Both games at home are huge,” said Bernier. “We just have to play hard and try to come out with another win before we go to Val-d’Or.”

Lewiston has not lost at home since late in the regular season. Back then, Bernier was just getting ready to return to action after missing time to an injury. What the Foreurs saw Friday night was a team and a goalie hitting their stride at just the right time.

“Every game is getting much better,” said Bernier. “With every game, I just have to keep my focus. Like I said before, the guys were awesome tonight, and we just have to keep playing like this.”

Bernier made his presence felt to Val-d’Or. When he wasn’t making saves when called upon, he was glad to toss a punch here or there during a couple scrums. He even dished a bit of wooden justice. He gave Julius Sinkovic a jab late in the third that sent the Foreur sprawling to the ice, igniting a bit of a flurry of fists.

“It’s never easy to get a shutout at this level,” said Bernier. “I just had to make the first save. The guys were there for the rebounds.”

The Maineiacs had a lengthy layoff while the Foreurs finished up their series with Cape Breton, but coach Clem Jodoin made sure his team was prepared. He worked them hard during the week and pushed them to a strong opening game. The strength of the Maineiacs playoff run has not only been their explosiveness up front, but the solid play around Bernier.

“It was a good team defensive commitment,” said Jodoin. “We killed seven power plays. We stayed focused and didn’t lose our composure.”

Though the Foreurs now have to answer Friday’s statement by the Maineiacs, Jodoin says his club has to respond as well. The win was just a step in the right direction.

“We didn’t win anything yet,” said Jodoin. “It’s only one game. We don’t celebrate yet. We have not accomplished anything. It’s just a win. Now we just get ready for (Saturday).”


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