LEWISTON – Call it an athletic fitness barometer.

Nearly 50 prospective Lewiston Maineiacs gathered at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee Thursday morning wearing running shoes, shorts and T-shirts. Their goal: Prove to the coaching staff they spent more time this summer working out than eating junk food.

“We can really get a good idea character-wise what a player is all about,” said new Maineiacs’ assistant coach Reg Bourcier, who was hired on to help with, among other things, strength and conditioning. “You can measure where their strengths and weaknesses so you can build from there.”

Players gathered Wednesday night for the annual billet family barbecue, where they met host families who they will stay with during camp, and perhaps beyond.

Thursday, it was down to business, with a few familiar faces manning the watches and clipboards. Defenseman Chad Denny took weights at the bench press. Forward Eric Castonguay took running times. Both Denny and Castonguay will leave soon for professional camps, and it’s possible that neither 20-year-old will return to the team this season. Meanwhile, this year’s players were put well to the test on Drouin Field beside the Colisee, in the parking lot, and finally at the running track at Lewiston High School.

“To come in here today, I knew it was going to be strenuous, but I had no idea it was going to be this strong of a team,” invite defenseman Charlie Pens said.

Last season, Pens played early in the season with Cape Breton, and left the team after suffering a concussion.

“This wasn’t anything like in Cape Breton,” Pens said. “I think we did bench press and the ‘BEEP’ test, which is just running for about a half-hour.” The veterans had a little bit better handle on what to expect.

“After last year, you kind of know what they’re going to throw at you, what kind of drills they’re going to do so you can kind of prepare,” defenseman Tom Michalik said. “I’m still pretty sore, though, I’m not going to lie.”

Bourcier said getting camp off on the right – or left – foot meant making sure the players who do stick with the team this season have a solid base, and an understanding of not only where they are physically, also where they need to go.

“If you have a player that has a certain weakness or certain area that needs to improve to get to the next level, you can evaluate through the testing, and we can build a program that they can develop with, No. 1 through the season, and No. 2 make it a year-round program,” he said. Bourcier added there was little black and white about the test results today, but perhaps “varying shades of gray.”

“Some of the stuff is easy, and some of the other stuff is hard,” admitted veteran Chris Tutalo. “It’s worth it for one day of tough stuff, and then you get to have fun.”

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