Maineiacs’ back-up goalie Delmas will play for Canada’s Under-18 squad

Faced with the prospect of playing another season with the Lewiston Maineiacs behind NHL first-round draft pick Jonathan Bernier, Peter Delmas could have cashed it in this summer.

But he didn’t.

Thanks to his offseason efforts, and likely aided by his amazing run with the Maineiacs down the stretch in place of an injured Bernier, Delmas added to his resume this summer. He is one of two goaltenders on Canada’s National Summer Under-18 Team, which will compete at the 2007 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Canada has won the last three times it has participated in this tournament.

“Playing for my country, that’s what we all dream about as little kids,” Delmas said. “Obviously I’ll miss Lewiston and miss being with my teammates (in training camp), and I’ll be excited to see the guys, but that can wait a few days.”

“He’s come a long way, and from the reports I’ve heard, he’s been working really hard all summer,” Maineiacs’ coach Ed Harding said. “He wanted last year to prove he belonged, and that he could play here, and now he’s reaping the benefits. Hockey Canada has recognized his feats.”

Delmas started his summer going right to work with on- and off-ice training.

“I worked out in Halifax a lot earlier this summer with two guys,” Delmas said. “I worked out with Roger Kennedy from Halifax, and with Jonathan Boutin, who used to be with Quebec and is now with Springfield (of the AHL). We’d wake up at 5, go on the ice at 6:30 to 8, then go to the gym another hour to an hour-and-a-half.

“Then, I went to Montreal with my agent and worked out some more there.”

Early in July, Delmas’ family moved to Toronto from Halifax. Delmas joined them there.

“I went from Calgary at the goalie camp, to Halifax to Montreal to Toronto and back to Calgary,” Delmas said. “It’s been a busy summer.”

A busy summer following a busy spring. Delmas saw action in 34 games, by far the most of the other goalies invited to Hockey Canada’s tryout.

“I asked the other goalies (at camp) how many games they got,” Delmas said. “One of them said 16, another 17 and the other got, like, five. I was definitely the games leader of the four of us, and that’s probably the way I got recognized, with the last 20 games or so I played.”

Delmas wasn’t the only netminder with Memorial Cup ties, though. Vancouver’s backup was also invited.

According to Harding, Delmas will see more action in Europe than he would have in the Maineiacs’ training camp, anyway.

“If Bernier and Peter were here, we probably wouldn’t play them anyway,” Harding said. “We want to see these kids. Ultimately, we’re going to have six goaltenders in camp, and there’s going to be no excuses from those goaltenders. They’re going to get plenty of work, and we’ll get to see them in all different situations.”

And when he’s done with Team Canada, Delmas said he had no problem coming back to Lewiston, no matter what his role ends up being.

“I’d talk to some of the other goalies here, and I realized how lucky I was to play with the best goalie in the CHL,” Delmas said of Bernier. “I learned from the best, got to take everything in from the best.

“Bernier is probably going to miss time being with L.A., and hopefully for him with Team Canada, too, and if you add those games up, that’s still 20 to 25 games for me, and I don’t think that will affect me too much, being the No. 2 guy.”

For now, though, Delmas’ focus is on adding another gold medal to Canada’s trophy case.

“I don’t think of it as pressure as much as it is an opportunity,” Delmas said, “and I want to do my best to take advantage of that chance.”

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