VANCOUVER – Chin up, chow down and relax.

The Lewiston Maineiacs heard those commands Wednesday morning as they practiced less than 14 hours after falling in overtime to the Plymouth Whalers.

“The first thing was to try and refresh them here,” Maineiacs’ coach Clem Jodoin said with a gesture to his left temple. “Try to spend the day with your best friend, laugh, enjoy and re-energize yourself.”

Lewiston’s practice was off-site at the Britannia Arena, about 10 minutes away. The players skated hard, and tried hard to put the past behind them.

“We’ve been pressing to stay positive,” forward Simon Courcelles said. “There’s not much we can do except get better. We’re not going to get better (yelling) at each other. We have to stay positive and work on winning our next game.”

Maineiacs’ captain Marc-Andre Cliche practiced for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in the team’s first game last Saturday. That alone seemed to lift the team’s spirits.

“He brought some energy to the practice this morning,” defenseman Sebastien Piche said.

“I’m glad he came up to practice,” Jodoin said. “The kids were happy for him. Let’s hope for a miracle (so he can come back) Friday.”

In addition to the team skate, Jodoin held a team meeting, where he laid everything out on the table.

“We talked about the little things, the ‘I’ and the ‘my’ that shouldn’t be in our vocabulary,” Jodoin said. “It needs to be the ‘we’ there all the time. It’s not, ‘My line is playing well I should be satisfied,’ it should be as a group, everyone has to be playing well if we want to go all the way. It’s a connection we have to bring back.”

Jodoin’s words appeared to sink in.

The team had a meal following practice, back at the Pacific Coliseum. They all gathered to purchase reduced-price Memorial Cup merchandise, and team owner Mark Just took them to an expensive steak house for dinner.

“Today, it’s their day, they need some rest,” Jodoin said. “They’re going to have a good meal, a big nice steak, and get some rest. We know what we have to do.”

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, meanwhile, has done his part all week. Despite a 1-2 record, his save percentage is above .950, and he has earned the first star in all three games.

But Bernier, too, has embraced his coach’s words.

“I said to the guys, ‘I’d change my watch and small trophies for the big trophy at the end,'” Bernier said. “I just want to give my teammates a chance to win the game, it’s the only thing I have in mind.”

Next opponent

The Maineiacs found out early Thursday morning, which team they would face next and when. But, before the game, there was a clear favorite.

“We’re just hoping Vancouver beats Medicine Hat now,” Courcelles said.

“I’m cheering for Vancouver,” Jodoin said. “There’s no question I’m cheering for Vancouver. I want to be there Friday night as the home team.”

If Vancouver defeated Medicine Hat, the Maineiacs would finish second and play Friday against the winner of a play-in between Medicine Hat and Plymouth. If Medicine Hat defeated Vancouver, it was Lewiston scheduled for the play-in game against Plymouth.


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