LEWISTON – Who said you don’t get a second chance at a first impression?

Rob McCarthy and Charlie Pens are happy to have the opportunity as the Lewiston Maineiacs’ training camp and preseason get under way this weekend.

McCarthy should already be familiar to many of the Maineiacs’ faithful. In 2005-06, McCarthy played 51 games as a 16-year-old forward. He registered just one goal and four assists that season, but was well-liked among fans for his gritty play.

“Rob McCarthy was one of the best players, and one of the toughest players on the puck for his age group when he was 15 years old,” Maineiacs’ Head Coach and General Manager Ed Harding said.

He came back to training camp a year ago with high expectations.

He left quickly, booted for violating team rules.

“Unfortunately, Rob decided that off-ice, extra-curricular activities were more important than playing hockey,” Harding said. “Deep down, he’s a good kid, he loves the game of hockey. We’ve all made mistakes in the past. You try and learn from those. I’m not going to bury a kid.”

In his time away from Lewiston last winter, McCarthy played for the Boston Harbor Wolves of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. The team struggled, but McCarthy got to play.

Now, he’s back in town with another shot at making the Maineiacs’ roster.

“I’m grateful,” McCarthy said. “I was working out here and there, but it was a big surprise they asked me to come back. I was pretty grateful. Not everybody gets a second chance.”

Pens, meanwhile, is likely an unfamiliar name. He did play in Lewiston last year, twice on the blue line for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles early in the season. He registered one assist in those two games and was a minus-1. He also bore the brunt of Danick Paquette’s fists in the Maineiacs’ home-opener.

For the season, Pens played in just 23 games last winter before heading home after a concussion cut his season short. He had one goal and four assists in that span, racked up 45 penalty minutes and was a plus-5.

“I had some video on him, and I talked to a few people about him,” Harding said, “but I don’t know him that well, still.”

Still others might remember Pens for having played in Central Maine before – for Hebron Academy.

Pens played hockey, football and lacrosse for the Lumberjacks in 2005-06.

“I used to come to games here when I went to Hebron,” Pens said. “I never thought that I’d actually be playing here. It’s insane to think that a couple of years ago I was watching Castonguay and Denny, and now I’m in the locker room with them.”

After the Eagles released Pens last winter, he went home to Maryland. He finished high school, played lacrosse and worked out all summer. He also worked for his father, running hockey schools.

This year, he’s getting another shot at the QMJHL.

“Getting a second chance in the Q is a great opportunity, not only being back in the Q, but being on a team that’s this high a caliber.”

There are no guarantees for either McCarthy or Pens this year.

But they have a chance.

And for two players with their resumes, that’s all they could ever have asked for.

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