VAL-D’OR, Quebec – It was everything the teams expected it would be.

Maybe even more.

More than 2,800 screaming fans packed the confined spaced of the Air Creebec Centre on Tuesday for Game 3 of the President’s Cup final series between the Lewiston Maineiacs and Val-d’Or Foreurs.

Every one of them went to the game with the purpose of being the Foreurs’ seventh player.

“The crowd was over there, the atmosphere and the emotion,” Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin said.

They were every bit that, heckling Lewiston’s players and coaches, and, of course, the referees.

The Maineiacs did their best to ignore the specifics.

“We have to have class, and be professional,” Jodoin said, pointing to a spot to the right of the Maineiacs’ players’ bench. “These amateurs, these fans will try everything. There is a guy who sits here who yells at us all game, yelling ‘trap’ and picking on the players, but we don’t even look at them.”

Chants (in French, of course) of “Die, die, die,” directed at the referees echoed throughout the middle and end of the first period, when the Foreurs were whistled for four penalties to Lewiston’s two.

At the end of the first, upset with the officiating, a few empty bottles rained down from the stands.

“It doesn’t matter if they throw water on you or whatever, you stay focused on everything you have to do,” Jodoin said.

None of those fans were upset after the second, though, when the Foreurs took a 3-2 lead. The crowd fed off of the players’ new-found energy, and the Val-d’Or skaters appeared to feed off of the crowd.

The Maineiacs, meanwhile, couldn’t help but notice, but tried to ignore it.

“We were prepared mentally,” Maineiacs’ forward Stefano Giliati said. “We have such good leaders in the room to help us focus on that. When they came at us, we were ready.”

The Maineiacs will likely have to be ready again tonight, as the Foreurs’ fans will again be out in force, perhaps seeing their team play for the final time.

“I still believe that discipline will bring you everywhere,” Jodoin said. “Everywhere.”


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