VANCOUVER – Marc-Andre Cliche caught his team’s bright pink and green volleyball with his left hand.

It was all reflex.

As the ball hit his hand, Cliche tried to turn with the sphere’s momentum, but he winced. He dropped the ball and kicked it back to his teammates.

Cliche, who left Saturday’s victory over Medicine Hat with a shoulder injury, had X-rays taken the night of the incident.

He had no broken bones.

“It’s all me, muscle stuff now, but I don’t know,” Cliche said Monday. “I’m working hard, getting treatments and hopefully I’ll be back on the ice.”

Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin wasn’t so certain, and went so far as to say no when asked if Cliche would play again.

But Cliche is still holding out hope.

Meanwhile, the team – his team – is coping with skating four lines minus its captain.

“We lost our leader, he’s the best player, and we all know that,” forward Eric Castonguay said. “We can replace him, but for that, everybody needs to raise their play, all four lines have to do a much better job.”

“It’s a motivation for us to win,” forward Stefano Giliati said, “But, it’s also a mental challenge because he’s a big part of our team. It’s good that he’s still around the team, in the room and stuff.”

To offset his loss on the top line, Jodoin shifted veteran Simon Courcelles to center David Perron and Pierre-Luc Faubert.

“They all have to step up now,” Jodoin said.

The players themselves are optimistic, too, even without Cliche making his way back to the ice.

“We beat Gatineau, Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or in a three-in-three without Bernier and Cliche,” Giliati said. “It’s a big loss, but we have to focus and fight through that.”

Cliche, meanwhile, just wants to get back out there. Especially after Sunday’s loss.

“When the guys are losing, you want to be out there to help them out,” Cliche said. “Even when there’s a loss, you want to be a part of it, even more, to try and help. I just want to be back.”

Better this time

Jonathan Bernier has good memories of Vancouver.

It was here, last summer, where Bernier took the stage upon hearing his name at the National Hockey League entry draft.

Stefano Giliati’s memories of the town aren’t so sweet. Giliati was in Vancouver last summer, too, hoping to hear his name announced.

It never was.

Now, with the Maineiacs playing in the Memorial Cup, he’s back in the same city.

“It’s another chance in this city to feel good,” Giliati said. “Being here before also makes me a little more comfortable, knowing the town, knowing the rinks. It takes some pressure off a little bit.”


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