VAL-D’OR, Quebec – The phones haven’t stopped ringing, the text messages are piling up, and space on digital camera memory cards is all but gone.

And the celebration is only beginning. Lewiston Maineiacs’ players, coaches and support staff emerged from their hotel rooms Thursday morning. Their eyelids were heavy, their steps much slower and more deliberate than they were Wednesday night.

But the smiles were the same.

Less than 24 hours after winning the 2007 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title, the Maineiacs packed up, already taking stock of what happened the night before.

Some of them watched television as the national sports news repeated every half-hour that Lewiston had defeated Val-d’Or one night earlier, 2-1.

Some of them turned on their cameras and scrolled through hundreds of digital images, a few watched a home movie recorded on the ice during the postgame celebration, and almost every player and coach were glued to a cell phone.

In the hotel lobby, as the team straggled past him into the restaurant for lunch, coach Clem Jodoin continued to talk on the phone.

“I have been on the phone all morning, all morning,” Jodoin said. “Since 8:30, it’s been non-stop.”

Some of the calls came from fellow coaches, some from peers across Canada, and many more from family and friends in the Magog, Quebec, area. Even Quebec Remparts owner and hockey hall-of-famer Patrick Roy phoned Thursday to congratulate Jodoin, and also to congratulate his former team captain, Simon Courcelles.

“Hey, Simon,” Jodoin said as Courcelles walked by him. “Patrick Roy says to say congratulations to you.”

Courcelles smiled and walked on. Jodoin went back to his phone calls, taking a phone charger from team trainer Tom Bourdon, just in case.

Most of the staff – including photographer Ron Morin and billet coordinator Ron Guerin – left early in the day and drove back to Lewiston. Morin and Guerin had the team’s heavier equipment, and some of the luggage in the Maineiacs’ team van.

But not the President’s Cup. That stayed with the players.

Later in the afternoon, the team loaded up a coach bus in front of Hotel Forestel with what remained of their personal gear. They bused back to the Air Creebec Centre to pick up their hockey equipment, which was still strewn across the floor of their empty locker room. Many of them walked back to the bench and reminisced. The team, Cup and all, then drove to the airport. All the bags were to be placed under the plane.

The Cup was going to get its own seat.

The team and a fan base that so desperately wanted a championship finally have one to call their own. Though the celebration is already more than 24 hours old, don’t expect it to end anytime soon.

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