LEWISTON — Maine’s summer took so long to get here, many people feel that with back-to-school days just around the corner, despite the heat and humidity finally returning to the region, summer wasn’t much of a vacation at all.

The Lewiston Maineiacs echo that sentiment.

Less than four months after the end of the most tumultuous season — on and off the ice — in the team’s six years in Lewiston, the revamped staff will welcome the next batch of aspiring hockey stars to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee this week, faced with the task of rebuilding a hockey team, and its reputation in the community.

Off-ice issues aside, the Lewiston Maineiacs will take the ice this week for their seventh training camp with its smallest crew — 36 skaters and seven goaltenders — in those seven seasons.

“The coaching staff and scouting staff, we feel, have put together a very competitive environment,” Lewiston president and coach Don MacAdam said. “One of the things we worked on is doing as much pre-selection as possible, so we weren’t bringing in guys just to cut. Half the camp is still going to be cut as it is, but the good news out of that is that half the camp is going to be our team. We didn’t want to bring in guys just to bring in bodies.”

All that means, Maineiacs’ GM Roger Shannon said, is that roster spots are going to be that much harder to come by.

“We’re so excited about training camp, we’re talking about it every day,” Shannon said. “We go over stats, we go over the lists, we go over the roster, we’re still working on some potential stuff, too.”

Among the 36 skaters scheduled to hit the ice Wednesday are 22 who have never worn a Lewiston Maineiacs’ sweater in a regular-season game, and just 11 who were regulars on last season’s squad that finished 16th in the 18-team Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“We’re hoping to have an entirely different team,” MacAdam said. “We had to change. That team was not even remotely good enough. We had to change our personnel, returning players had to change mentally and certainly physically.”

But there are plenty of players with league experience. The Maineiacs have completed 11 trades since June 5 which have sent eight players projected to play in the league this season to other teams. Those same trades have yielded a crop of five new-to-the-team skaters with QMJHL experience — Sam Carrier, Sebastien Trudeau, Stefan Fournier, Alexis Piette and Mathieu Gingras.

One of the more startling stats from this year’s camp is the number of former first-round QMJHL draft picks dotting the roster — eight. Eric Gelinas, whom the New Jersey Devils drafted in this year’s NHL draft, leads that group that also includes Sam Finn, Etienne Brodeur, Michael Chaput, Carrier, Fournier, Francis Beuvillier and Jean-Francois Plante.

But, MacAdam cautioned, while size was a big factor in the team’s off-season moves, don’t expect the team to use age as a determining factor when deciding who makes the team or gets playing time this season.

“With this team, as with a lot of teams, you put age aside,” MacAdam said. “Leadership will surface, and we’re really hoping to develop an environment where all of the players take a piece of the leadership role.”

The most competitive position this training camp may be among the players who cover the least amount of ground during a game — the goalkeepers. With seven backstops arriving in camp this week, mum is the word on the number the team plans to keep for the season. Adrien Lemay, the only 20-year-old player on the camp roster, is a favorite to earn one position, meaning six other goalies are vying for, in all likelihood, one or two positions.

“In a camp I watched last week, (Ian) O’Brien was there, and he got better as the camp went on,” MacAdam said. “He plays a little bit like a Dominic Hasek style … (Damien) Pinheiro I thought was solid, Charles Grant was the best guy in camp on that Thursday, and I thought (Tyler) Piercy was solid every day. Technically, he’s very sound. It’s going to be a great battle for the goaltending positions.”

MacAdam said that Jordan Kennedy will be in camp and may be ready to go, but he’s slowly recovering from a hamstring injury suffered at Team Atlantic’s Under-18 selection camp.

Those players who were in Lewiston last year received their marching orders as the season ended in April — get bigger, get faster, get stronger. MacAdam and Shannon have been checking in on some of the players, and have liked what they’ve seen and heard — so far.

“Training methods are so much more advanced now,” Shannon said. “I see firsthand how big and strong they get in just one summer. I know that a lot of these guys have trained all summer. Don has stayed in really close contact with the players in term of their fitness.”

Ultimately, they said, it’s the players themselves who will decide the makeup of the squad.

“We feel any of these guys coming to camp can play, the invited guys included,” MacAdam said. “It’s sorting out time now.”

Tim LaFrance, from East Coast Signs, positions the Maineiacs’ logo on center ice as Roger Breton, bottom, watches the process Thursday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. The Maineiacs are back in town after almost leaving the Lewiston-Auburn area last year.


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