LEWISTON — Sometimes, you just need to sleep on it.

Two of the Lewiston Maineiacs’ 42 training camp players faced that situation Thursday night, deciding whether or not to retain their NCAA eligibility, or continue full boar with the Maineiacs’ camp. Due to NCAA regulations, players who stay longer than that lose at least one year of eligibility because they receive services and room and board, which amount, according to the NCAA, to being paid to play.

Tyler Piercy, a goalie who has clearly shown in two days his ability to compete at the QMJHL level, according to GM Roger Shannon, is one of those players sleeping on his decision.

“We don’t want to put a boy’s eligibility at risk unless he has a strong, strong chance to make the team,” Shannon said. “The toughest one for us to make was Tyler Piercy, because he can play here.We’ve given him the option, and it’ll be strictly his option. We don’t know his answer yet, but he’ll come see us (Thursday) and talk to us. He’s a young man; he’ll make his decision. He may come forward and say, ‘OK boys, I’m going to give it my best shot,’ or if he says he’s going to go play Junior A and try for an American scholarship, guess what, this kid can play Division I college.”

Piercy was one of three goalies on the block Thursday, but the only one with the option to return if he wanted. Charles Grant was released for the purpose of retaining his eligibility, but was not given the option to remain in camp, at least not this year.

“He’s not being released from our protected list. He has time to work on his game, and to possibly keep his college options open,” Shannon said.

Damin Pinheiro was the other goalie released Thursday.

Lewiston-born defenseman Eric Bonawitz is in the same boat as Piercy, though he’s 19.

“He’s not sure exactly what he wants to do,” Shannon said. “We haven’t eliminated him yet, but he won’t be playing in any games, and he lives at home anyway, so basically this is like a big free hockey camp at this stage and he can kind of play it out.”

Bonawitz has held his own among the 10 defensemen still in camp, and has a few days to make his decision, as long as he doesn’t play in this weekend’s preseason games against Drummondville.

Shawn Hird of Auburn was also let go Thursday night, and he’ll continue on to Woodstock of the MJAHL, where he has a tryout and training camp in the next two weeks.

Veteran presence

The Maineiacs’ camp this year isn’t just to evaluate the rookies. Head coach Don MacAdam made that perfectly clear from the beginning, and he reinforced that notion Thursday.

“A couple of our veterans were a little tough to find out there,” MacAdam said. “We need to see more of them. This is evaluation for everybody, and we told everyone off the top that there are no free passes. We already have a level of expectation for them, and we’re developing levels of expectations for the new guys.”

Pier-Olivier Morin and Steeven Jacques were among the veterans who found the score sheet several times Thursday, and Team Blue edged Team White 11-10 in varied formats during three periods.  In Wednesday’s game, White defeated Blue, 9-6.

Getting physical

The team took the reins off the hitting machines a bit Thursday, although MacAdam said they weren’t on that tight to begin with.

Although the staff has asked that there be no fighting during the intrasquad games, MacAdam said he wanted players to play with a bit of an edge.

“It looked a little bit like summer hockey near the end (Wednesday),” MacAdam said. “We’re going to be a team that’s going to finish checks here, so if they want to be part of it, you need to be finishing checks.”

One player who took that to heart Thursday was Finnish defenseman Riku Dufva, who laid out at least three players behind the net.

“He may have been running around a little bit too much,” MacAdam said, “but it was good to see a lot more grinding on the boards, and the guys played with a little bit more of an edge.”

Touring with the mayor

The Maineiacs showed off their new traveling bus — a 2009 edition from Northeast Charter — by arranging a tour of the city, complete with one of the city’s premier tour guides: Mayor Larry Gilbert, a seven-year season ticket-holder.

The players’ parents boarded the bus in the afternoon Wednesday while the players rested at home between sessions, and Gilbert acted as a tour guide as the bus rolled through the streets of Lewiston.

The bus itself will offer the team a few amenities they haven’t had in the past, including wireless Internet and satellite television.

Picture day

The league requires each team to submit a head shot of every player for use on the Web site, and also in promotional materials. Players had to arrive at the rink for Thursday’s scrimmage game a bit early, and as they stood around, some of them tried to comb their hair with their hands. Most tried not to smile, to give the serious look as team photographer Ron Morin rattled off picture after picture against the required plain white backdrop hung outside the team locker room.

For the pictures, each was allowed to slip into the Maineiacs’ new black game jersey, which the team had to order due to the shift to the Reebok Edge system. The new style includes pinstriping across the top of the chest and down the sides, and a small patch of dark blue on the underside of the arm.

Reebok created the jersey to fit more snugly, but to enhance player mobility while providing less resistance while skating. NHL teams donned the jerseys last season.


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