LEWISTON – Two years ago, goaltender Peter Delmas walked into the Lewiston Maineiacs’ training camp. Barely noticeable, Delmas slinked around the Androscoggin Bank Colisee at 6-feet and a slender 162 pounds.

He earned the coveted job as Jonathan Bernier’s backup, and late in the season, with the team on its way to a league championship, filled in for the injured star goalie for 30 games.

Last year, with both goalies back, Delmas arrived at camp a bit heavier, a bit taller, and a bit faster.

But he was still considered the backup.

Not this year.

“I came in every year thinking I was going to be the No. 1, or trying to be the No. 1,” Delmas said, “so my attitude hasn’t really changed.”

Being drafted by the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche this summer hasn’t hurt, either.

“Now, they want to see see how I do as a No. 1 goalie,” Delmas said. “They want to see me come back here, develop some more, and we’ll see where it goes from there. It gives you a bit more motivation.”

Now bulked up to nearly 190 pounds and listed at 6-3, Delmas looks the part of a seasoned veteran, too.

“When I went to Colorado, I saw how big all those guys were, and it makes you want to train harder,” Delmas said. “I’ve put on a few pounds and I feel a lot stronger and faster.”

Being a bit bigger also means being a bit more intimidating between the pipes to opposing shooters. That, he said, is a big part of the game.

“You always want to play big,” Delmas said. “This summer, I focused a lot more on coming out a bit and cutting down the angle, playing as big as I possibly can to fill up all the holes.”

The team’s coaching staff, meanwhile, also expects big things from its goaltender.

“We have very high expectations for Delmas, as he does for himself,” Maineiacs’ goaltending coach Reg Bourcier said. “He’s going to have a bigger role in terms of leadership on this team, too.”

Part of that leadership role will be to help bring along the next heir apparent to the team’s goaltending throne – whomever that turns out to be.

“They’re all battling it out right now,” Delmas said. “They’re all battling hard, and when you have guys behind you working hard, it makes you work hard, too.”

Kirk Rafuse entered camp with an apparent leg up on the competition, having seen action with the Maineiacs in five games last season.

“It definitely helps, in terms of the speed,” Rafuse said Sunday. “You have to come into camp ready, and I think I can do better than I’ve done so far. You just have to bear down and give it your best.”

Lewiston also drafted a goalie in June, 17-year-old Jonathan Connely, and he, too, has started well this camp.

Add to the mix Marc-Antoine Coulombe, a veteran of last year’s training camp, and invited netminder Phillip Wright, and the competition for a pair of goaltending spots heated up considerably.

“Peter Delmas is going to be gone the first few games,” Maineiacs’ coach Ed Harding said, referring to Delmas’ planned trip to the Avalanche’s rookie camp. “Because training camp is so short, we only (had) five goalies here. I wanted to see these guys play a lot. I want Rafuse, and Connely, and Coulombe, and Wright, in a lot of these games to see what they can do in different situations.”

Delmas will still get his fair share of time, though. On Sunday, August 31, he played 20 minutes of 3-on-3 hockey, and was easily the best of the three goalies who suited up.

Wright, meanwhile, allowed just one goal on 21 shots against Victoriaville, while Coulombe allowed three goals on 17 shots.

After the second game against Victoriaville on September 1, the team sent Rafuse and Coulombe packing, leaving, for now, Wright and Connely to back up Delmas to begin the season. There is plenty of pressure on the goalies in this year’s camp.

For once, though, Delmas isn’t the one feeling the pressure.


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