VAL-D’OR, Quebec – The fans believed.

The team, its owner and its staff believed.

And now they have made believers out of the rest of the league.

In stirring fashion, David Perron awoke from a mini-slump with a pair of goals, and Jonathan Bernier played what might have been the best game of his career to lead the Lewiston Maineiacs to a 2-1 victory over the Val-d’Or Foreurs in Game 4 of the President’s Cup final Wednesday.

The win gives the Maineiacs a four-game sweep. They went 16-1 in the playoffs, and are the first American-based team to earn the President’s Cup.

“It was crazy, man,” Bernier said. “There’s nothing to describe it. We battled so hard. The buzzer, it took so long.”

Bernier literally stood on his head in the third period – twice – and made 20 saves as the Foreurs threw everything they could at the 18-year-old netminder.

“He was the difference tonight,” Maineiacs’ defenseman Chad Denny said of Bernier. “We owe him a big thank you.”

Bernier twice stopped point-blank power-play opportunities in the third period as Val-d’Or enjoyed four consecutive power plays – including a pair of 5-on-3s.

“The last three minutes of that period, they were long,” Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin said. “They were long.”

The four-game sweep sends the trophy to the United States for the first time, and helped establish Jodoin’s philosophy of building from within.

“This sets up the organization for the next 10 years,” Jodoin said. “It took four years, but we are here. We are at the top.”

After spending the first half of the opening period feeling each other out, Perron emerged from an apparent hibernation and exploded with a pair of goals.

His first, at 13:32, came after Marc-Andre Cliche sprang the shifty rookie loose in front of goalie Jeremy Duchesne after a tenacious backcheck kept the puck in at the blue line.

“We’ve been working a lot on backchecking all year,” Cliche said. “This was what we worked for. I caught up to him and put the puck back to the zone for Perron.”

Perron’s second goal came from the low slot, when he slipped the puck underneath a fallen Duchesne after Cliche’s first attempt fell in front of the Foreurs’ netminder.

“That was a great pass from (Eric) Castonguay,” Perron said. “The goalie stopped the first one, and I got the rebound.”

Perron nearly added a third for a first-period natural hat trick, but missed wide right on a partial breakaway. Chad Denny also had a point-blank chance stopped moments later.

Val-d’Or shot out of the gate in the second, and Jerome Samson nearly scored at the 30-second mark, but his shot clanged the left post and ricocheted into the corner.

The Foreurs enjoyed their best offensive pressure of the series across a five-minute span in the latter half of the middle period.

The home team delighted the crowd by pinning Lewiston in its own zone for better than four minutes. Bernier stepped up to keep the Maineiacs ahead by two.

“He was the difference,” Jodoin said.

The Maineiacs are planning a special celebration for the community Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, starting at 7 p.m.

Lewiston’s next game will be next Saturday, May 19, against a to-be-determined opponent at the 2007 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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