LEWISTON — Androscoggin Bank Colisee owner and newly-dubbed Maineiacs’ Executive Vice President Jim Cain walked back toward the team’s locker room after practice Friday morning, keys jingling in his right hand.

Reaching out to interim coach Jeff Guay, he handed the keys over — three of them on an old key chain.

“Here,” Cain said. “You might need these. You know which holes they go into, right?”

How could he forget.

“It’s funny how I just walked right in and it feels all natural,” Guay said.  

After a six-month hiatus, Guay was back on the ice with the Maineiacs for his first practice with the team as its temporary bench boss Friday morning. He’d even pulled his SUV into the rink’s back bay.

“I had to bring some old files back in,” Guay said, laughing. “I don’t expect that will be a permanant parking spot.”

“Get that hunk of trash out of here,” Cain added, also starting to laugh. “Really? You think you’re back and we’re going to let you park in here? Forget it.”

First, though, Guay had a practice to attend. A long one. Some of the Lewiston skaters jumped onto the Colisee ice at 8:10 Friday morning. The stragglers were still on the ice past 11. In between, there was skating — a lot of skating.

“You have to keep them moving,” Guay said. “It wasn’t an object to kill them or anything, but they were off the ice (Thursday), too, so it was time to give them a little skate as well.”

“I think that’s what we needed a little bit,” Maineiacs’ captain Billy Lacasse said. “We were kind of sloppy for the last 10, 12 games, and I think that’s one of our biggest weaknesses right now. Jeff knows the systems, he coached with Clem (Jodoin) when they won the President’s Cup, and I think he brought us a lot of good stuff.”

The systems Lacasse referred to manifested themselves early in the drills Friday.

“We worked on two big things today, the neutral zone and defensive zone coverage,” Guay said. “It actually went a bit better than I expected, and we’re going to work on it again tomorrow, and there will be more full-ice, open-ice stuff. It was a lot of teaching, but I gave them a good skate as well. I was happy with Day 1 of practice.”

The players recognized the drills, too.

“It was a simple practice, it reminded us of our old D-zone coverage and our old center-zone coverage that we used to do,” defenseman Eric Gelinas said. “It’s different this year, but it used to work. It’s an aggressive D-zone coverage, so it’s going to be pretty exciting.”

For now, Guay admitted, it’s all baby steps. With a game Sunday against Cape Breton (and against the coach under which Guay got his start in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Mario Durocher), Guay’s focus was on not only helping to fix the on-ice problems, but to help lift the team’s spirits a bit.

“It was good, it was upbeat today,” Guay said. “I can’t change all kinds of things in two days, but we’re targeting the most important stuff to help out for Sunday’s game. It’s going to come quick.”

As for winning? Guay said that will come, too.

“This team has great size; it can skate well,” Guay said. “I think it needs a little bit of systems and guidance, that’s all.”


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