LEWISTON – During the Lewiston Maineiacs’ first training camp in 2003, several local skaters asked for permission to try out for the team.

A few did.

They all got cut.

The only American-born player to skate for the Maineiacs in their first season as the only franchise of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the United States was defenseman Bobby Gates.

Ditto for Year 2.

In the team’s third year, five different skaters laced them up for the team at one time or another, though just two – Rob McCarthy and Colby Gilbert – were here from start to finish.

Last year, Chris Tutalo and Tom Michalik were the team’s two U.S.-born skaters.

This year, eight skaters born south of the border had a chance to crack the roster.

“I don’t care where they’re from,” Harding said Saturday. “If there are 23 French-Canadian kids on the roster, then I’ll be very happy. If there’s 23 kids from the Maritimes, I’m equally as happy, as long as they want to compete and play hard.”

By Sunday night, five Americans were left in camp with a shot to make the team, including Tutalo, Michalik, Todd Chinova, Matt Bourdeau and Charlie Pens.

Veterans’ day

After letting the drafted players and camp invites show their stuff during the first two days of intrasquad action, the team’s veterans flexed their muscles Sunday.

Marc-Andre Daneau, Tutalo, Michael Ward and two-year QMJHL veteran Chinova each found their way onto the scoresheet.

“I sat them out a little bit here and there,” Maineiacs’ Head Coach and General Manager Ed Harding said.

“I wanted everybody who was healthy to play (Sunday), because none of the veterans will play Monday or Tuesday night (in Bathurst).”

1991 – It was a very good year

Several of the top rookie performers in training camp this week are making a lot of people – including some of the team’s veterans – feel old.

Four of the players dressed for Sunday’s final intrasquad game were born in 1991.

Another 17 players were born one year earlier, in 1990.

“There are some guys here that I think could be pretty good major junior hockey players at 18, 19 and 20,” Harding said.

“We have a lot of quality young players, and the decisions we have to make this week are going to be tough ones.”

Veteran forward Chris Tutalo, born in 1987, looked at the names on the doors of the locker rooms this week and just shook his head.

“I feel so old, all these 90s and 91s,” Tutalo said.


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