LEWISTON Stefan Fournier stands out.

Head and shoulders above most of the players at the Lewiston Maineiacs’ training camp this week, Fournier also has bright blond hair and a personality to match. He’s a forward. He smiles, he waves, he’s polite and he’s responsive to fans who ask him to take a minute to talk.

Dillon Fournier, while not necessarily short, blends in. He’s younger by two years than Stefan, and even though he knows plenty of people in his surroundings, he’s a bit on the shier side. He is a defenseman. But he, too, smiles, waves, and mingles seamlessly with those around him.

They are brothers, after all, and there will be similarities.

But more importantly to both players, they have a chance to be teammates for a full season for the first time.

“This is something we’ve talked about for years,” Dillon said. “For a full season, this is the first time we could play together. To actually have the opportunity, it’s great.”

Dillon Fournier was a hot commodity in June. A strapping young defenseman, he was widely considered one of the top 10 players available in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s entry draft.

The Lewiston Maineiacs figured he was the best. They traded twice and acquired the top overall pick to select him. His talent, they figured, was top notch. And so is his attitude, and his ability to develop chemistry in the locker room.

“I feel that (GM) Roger (Shannon) and the whole organization pulled a lot of strings to make a team that’s going to be really close in the dressing room,” Stefan said. “Obviously, it’s a bonus to have my brother around, and I feel like Dillon’s going to perform. I think for the next year or two, it will be a great experience for the both of us, and it will help us transition into better hockey players.”

The elder Fournier gave his little brother advice as the two prepared to start training camp this week, but most of what Stefan brought up had little to do with hockey.

“I can’t really talk to him about the game, where we play different positions,” Stefan said, “so I give him the pointers on life here in general, like, at some point in the season, you feel a little homesick when you’re 16. I talk to him about how there are going to be ups and downs, how your playing time won’t be huge at first while the coaches give you time to adjust.”

For Dillon, the hockey side of things, and the transition to a much faster game with much bigger players, is starting a bit more easily, thanks to some familiar faces as many as five other players in camp grew up with Dillon in and around Montreal.

“It makes it a lot easier coming in here, you don’t feel as nervous,” Dillon said. “You feel more at home, more welcome, and it makes the transition that much more enjoyable, too.”

The fact that the brothers play different positions doesn’t surprise many people. How that came to be, though, is a matter of some debate, and depends on which brother you ask.

“Honestly, the main reason I changed back was for more ice time,” Dillon said. “Back then, we played four defense and nine forwards, so you always wanted to play more. But yeah, when we used to go to outdoor hockey, he always ended up being a forward and I was a defenseman. Eventually it just happened that way.”

Stefan said he knew the real reason, though.

“We had the sibling rivalry when were maybe seven and nine,” Stefan said. “That’s why he switched from forward to defense, because he wasn’t able to score all that much.”

That, Stefan said, is where the rivalry ended, though.

“At the end of it, all we’ve ever done with each other is supported each other through everything, and to me, that’s more important than having any sibling rivalry,” he said.

The bond the brothers share is also helping Dillon adjust to training camp in Lewiston.

“I don’t see him having to go through that normal rookie phase, where you feel like you’re tormented or alone or anything, because he already has friends, and not just me, on the team,” Stefan said. “That’s a big advantage.”

The one thing to which Stefan can’t help Dillon relate is the feeling of having been the league’s top pick, and the pressure that goes along with the extra set of eyes peering down at him.

“You always think of it when you’re on the ice, but you have to just play your game,” Dillon said. “You do what you have to do out there and just ignore the distractions. Even if there’s a lot of hype, you still have to just play hockey.”


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