LEWISTON It could have been a confusing summer for Jordan Kennedy. The Lewiston Maineiacs returning goaltender, who’d logged the most minutes of anyone in camp, watched as the team acquired, traded, and traded for a bevy of goalies.

Gone was Adrien Lemay, who aged out of the league. In came Olivier Roy. Just as quickly, Roy was gone via a trade. Then, the Maineiacs drafted 16-year-old Antoine Bibeau and traded for 20-year-old Nicholas Champion. On top of that, the team drafted 17-year-old Russian Andrey Makarov in the Import Draft.

All of a sudden, Kennedy, a 17-year-old, was being squished.

But it made the young puck-stopper work harder.

“The only thing going through my head was, I know it’s going to be a lot tougher than last year, when I was 16,” Kennedy said. “But I just had to work harder, keep after it and play my best.”

Kennedy appeared at camp this year visibly more confident in his on-ice abilities.

“My training this summer was a lot harder, I came back in better shape,” Kennedy said. “The fitness testing came back a lot better. I was a lot faster and quicker. Knowing that I’ve already done this, having an idea what I was coming in to, that’s helped.”

Champion, meanwhile, is embracing his role as the team’s primary backstop, and also as a teacher and mentor.

“I’m here to play a role on the team, and I’m here to do that,” Champion said. “It’s going to be a younger guy on the team, so with my experience, I need to be able to really help them along the way and help them grow as goaltenders.”

Maineiacs’ goalie coach Reg Bourcier said Friday that this year’s crop of goalies may be the deepest he’s seen in a while.

Not rookies anymore

One year ago, Sam Henley barely spoke, and even then it was likely he’d been spoken to first. Francis Beauvillier was a top pick, but he, too, was on the shier side.

Not anymore.

These two super sophomores, at the ripe old age of 17, are among the veterans in training camp this year. And they’re acting like it.

“I feel more confident,” Henley said. “I just feel faster, stronger. I think everyone is stronger and faster, but a year, a whole year is a lot for kids to grow. I don’t really know how to explain it.”

Henley, who skated awkwardly at times on the fourth line last season, has noticeably improved his foot speed, and his ability to stride forward.

“I was working on that a lot this summer, because I know I was not a fast player last year,” Henley said. “It’s a fast league now, and I have to improve my skating.”

Beauvillier, meanwhile, worked on his game, and let nature do a lot of the rest. He came back at least two inches taller, and appears imposing when he’s in control of the puck.

“I feel different, but there are still 20-year-olds out there,” Beauvillier said. “They are older than me, so I need to be bigger. I need to practice my quick feet still, too.”

Still in need of work, he said, but getting there.

“I feel a lot more comfortable on the ice,” Beauvillier said. “I’m not a rookie anymore.”

But, he said, there’s always stress of some kind.

“The stress is still here, though, because I have to now try to make the top two lines,” Beauvillier said.

Team Auburn wins L/A Cup

Christophe Lalonde led Team Auburn to a victory in the intrasquad L/A Cup challenge Friday night, netting the tie-breaking goal in a shootout to lift Auburn to an 18-17 aggregate win over Lewiston.

Auburn began the day two ahead of Lewiston after posting an 11-9 win on Thursday.

Team Lewiston got one goal back in the first, outscoring Team Auburn 3-2 in the period to close the overall gap to one at 13-12. Cole MacDonald, Sam Henley and J.P. Harvey had goals for the blue squad, while Christophe Lalonde and Alex Zotiris scored for Auburn.

In the second, the goalies had their say. Newcomer Andrey Makarov was stellar early in the period in his first game action since landing stateside Thursday. He allowed just one Jess Tanguy goal on a nasty tip-in.

On the other end, Tyler Piercy matched Makarov, allowing just one Matthew Bissonette tally on a nice feed from Francis Beauvillier.

Lewiston hosts Victoriaville in a preseason game Saturday at 4 p.m.


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