VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Bigger, stronger and, well, just as fast.

Such was the competition at the Memorial Cup this week for the Lewiston Maineiacs, who dominated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season with their speed and finesse.

Just like Plymouth did in the Ontario Hockey League.

Just like Medicine Hat and Vancouver did in the Western Hockey League.

“We have to keep in mind where we’re coming from,” Lewiston head coach Clem Jodoin said. “We battled hard, we did some good things in Lewiston and to represent the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but you have to keep in mind, this is the toughest trophy in hockey to win.”

Tough because the caliber of the teams playing jumps tremendously from anything the players have faced all season. Tough, because each team is used to winning on a regular basis, and being able to shake off the losses.

In Vancouver, at the Memorial Cup, every loss mattered.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Jodoin said. “We came close, but coming close in a tournament like this isn’t enough.”

One of the key differences Jodoin found between his squad the the three others entered into the tournament this season was the number of veterans on each team, particularly on the blue line.

“Experience to move the puck is important,” Jodoin said. “Experience to battle for 60 minutes, size is a factor to a point because it’s long tournament, it’s a grinding tournament.”

Three of the eight defensemen who played for Lewiston this season were 17-years-old. Another two were 18.

That bodes well for the team’s future, though.

“This is a young organization that will grow because of this experience,” Jodoin said. “People will be talking about this organization for four or five more years down the road because of what we have done this year.”

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Players eligible to return to the Maineiacs next season

Name Junior age in 2007-08

Jonathan Bernier 19

Peter Delmas 17

Michal Korenko 20*^

Chad Denny 20*

Marc-Andre Crete 20

Tom Michalik 19

Sebastien Piche 19

Kevin Marshall 18

Patrick Cusack 18

Michael Ward 18

Marc-Andre Cliche 20*

Eric Castonguay 20

Stefano Giliati 20

Marc-Andre Daneau 20

Chris Tutalo 20

Stefan Chaput 19

David Perron 19

Jakub Bundil 19^

David Taylor 18

Danick Paquette 17

Alex Beaton 17

* – Likely gone ^ – European

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