LEWISTON – Danick Paquette waltzed down the steps in front of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Thursday night. He was all smiles. He waved his arms at the gathered revelers, and he earned some of the loudest applause of the evening. His broad shoulders – broader still since he left Lewiston in May – will bear more pressure this season.

Alexander Beaton, a familiar name to many in the Lewiston Maineiacs’ community, has gained a reputation as a play-maker and a solid, down-to-earth, humble player.

Pretty lofty expectations for a player who has never stepped foot in a countable game for the Maineiacs.

Still, Beaton has something plenty of players in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will never have: his name etched in the President’s Cup trophy.

This pair of sophomores, each only 17 as they enter training camp this summer, will have different roles this time around. No longer the wide-eyed newcomers, Paquette and Beaton will help, through their experiences last season, to mold this year’s crop of rookies.

“He came in this year still in what I called marginal shape,” Maineiacs’ head coach Ed Harding said. “But one thing Danick is, is very coachable, and he’ll learn from that. He does whatever we tell him, he’ll understand.”

“I know now it’s me who has to show the example, as a veteran,” Paquette said. “That’s very different for me.”

Beaton, meanwhile, lifted all summer, and spent as much time as he could on the ice.

“I got to see how big a strong the guys are (at the Memorial Cup),” Beaton said. “Obviously I had a little bit of fun this summer, but a lot of it was working out, especially my upper body. That’s one thing I wanted to get stringer so I wouldn’t get pushed around.”

Paquette in particular will be a valuable asset to the team. He spent the whole season in Lewiston, and played plenty of minutes in the playoff run. One thing he has left on his plate, though: learning English.

“It’s going to go easier this year, I think,” Paquette said in French. “I understand a lot better.”

Beaton never had that trouble, of course. He did, however, have to fit in quickly with a team already in the middle of a championship run. He joined the team in Val d’Or, Quebec, on the eve of the team’s President’s Cup victory.

“He’s come back in tremendous shape, and he’s come back a lot stronger,” Harding said of Beaton. “That was something he knew he had to that he might not have had he not been here.”

That experience – for both players – will make a difference this week, not only in their own training camp performances, but in those of a number of rookies, all hoping to be next year where Paquette and Beaton are today.

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