LEWISTON – Chalk up another victory for the Lewiston Maineiacs. Score one for continuity and togetherness, while you’re at it.

Friday night’s 4-0 shutout of Val-d’Or at sold-out Androscoggin Bank Colisee demonstrated the difference between the two teams that is pronounced on paper, and subtle but oh-so-significant on the ice.

There are two ways to go about your business in this modern era of sports. There’s the traditional, dare we say old-fashioned way. Unfortunately, it’s espoused mostly by teams that don’t get very far.

It requires doing your homework, rallying the front office troops for your league’s draft (with or without the hot air and hair spray that accompanies the NFL player selection process) and selecting athletes that fit your philosophy.

Trades are minimal, and they’re typically used to land one or two high-character veteran players to complete the puzzle.

The other competitive model, embraced by the New York Yankees, that smarmy salesman in your fantasy league and every Boston-area team not named MIT, is to wheel and deal like a drunken poker player until somebody slaps them across the face with a trading deadline.

Rarely is the contrast better demonstrated in real time than in this President’s Cup final.

In one corner, it’s Lewiston, the franchise that drafted Marc-Andre Cliche and Chad Denny on Day 1, four seasons ago.

Two dozen Maineiacs banded together in the humidity of August 2006 and have been inseparable since. They’ve logged more bus miles together in the last nine months than most of us experienced in our entire K-through-12 school journey.

Given the chance to shuffle the deck and call in reinforcements, their bosses backed off. Good move. Or lack thereof.

Across the frozen sheet, it’s Val-d’Or, the best team a good cell-phone connection and the powers of persuasion can buy.

Twenty players wore the black-and-gold in Friday’s Game 1 for the Foreurs. Eleven of them started the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season wearing the threads of another franchise.

No denying Val-d’Or’s talent. Goalie Jeremy Duchesne, forwards Felix Schutz and Brad Marchand and defenseman Kristopher Letang all are being groomed for careers in the National Hockey League.

Gold City didn’t win Games 6 and 7 on the road at Cape Breton – a team that gave Lewiston heartburn all season – by accident. But that put the Foreurs face-to-face with a unit that is performing intuitively above its already phenomenal physical abilities.

“Their team’s from all over the place. Here, we’re pretty much a family by now,” said Lewiston’s 20-year-old left wing, enforcer, and rare preseason trade acquisition Triston Manson.

Not a dysfunctional family, either.

In one of the most amazing displays of discipline and unselfishness you’ll ever see, Lewiston lit the red lamp four times with 12 different players scoring a point.

How’s this for sharing the wealth? Manson, whose job description involves using his stick to cross-check more frequently than shoot, lit the victory cigar with a goal in the final minute.

Naturally, a dust-up ensued. Nobody messes with the family.

“We even fight with each other,” Manson said. “We’re like a bunch of brothers here. We all know each other by now, because we’ve been together all year.”

That comfort level manifests itself a hundredfold in special-teams situations. Lewiston showed an awareness with the puck and with its back turned to the net that’s a split second ahead of what the Foreurs are learning on the fly.

Lewiston has made its living off the power play in this postseason. With its man advantage, Val-d’Or went a paltry 0-for-7.

“It was a good team defensive commitment,” said Lewiston coach Clem Jodoin. “We didn’t lose our composure. We worked hard as a team on doing the little things: short shifts, chip it in, chip it out, puck control. You have to learn to be patient.”

Jodoin ordered the Maineiacs not to celebrate Friday’s whitewashing and gave four simple commands: get some food, get some water, get some rest, and come back ready to skate Saturday morning.

The venerable bench boss had a captive audience, one that has probably heard his full repertoire of instructions and motivational speeches six times over.

That familiarity just might breed a championship.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His e-mail is [email protected]


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