LEWISTON — Even after the Lewiston Maineiacs made their first round of cuts, the ice appeared a bit crowded Monday morning at practice.

With a handful of minor injuries and illnesses hitting the team over the weekend, the Maineiacs held back on making too many cuts, releasing just five players from camp Monday morning.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we want to be careful with all of our players, and not play any of them too much in the preseason,” Maineiacs’ GM Roger Shannon said. “When we do play a game, we don’t want to be stuck with playing just 11 players, and they’re all of the veterans.”

Shannon gave no indication which players may or may not be on the chopping block next.

“To be honest, we’ve had so many of the younger players come to camp and step up and play so well, this isn’t going to be an easy decision,” Shannon said.

From the coaching staff’s point of view, having the extra bodies around isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.

“It’s good for the players, too,” Maineiacs coach J.F. Houle said. “We’re starting to work on a few basic systems now, and it’s good for all of the players to know the systems, in case we need to call anyone up this year.”

Five players — Chris Caissey, Maxime Godin, Nick Jordan, Colton Stairs and Marc-Antoine Rousseau — were released from camp Monday morning. One in particular — Rousseau — stung a little bit.

“That’s strictly at this stage of the game a league requirement,” Shannon said of releasing Rousseau. “He would not be going anywhere had it not been for the fact that he’s enrolled in CEGEP (a Quebec-based high school equivilant for distance learning), and we had until eleven o’clock (Monday) morning to release him because he has to be at CEGEP (Tuesday) morning. Otherwise, he would not be going anywhere right now. He’d be staying here for sure and battling for a spot.”

Shannon also said Monday the team is targeting a roster of 14 forwards and seven or eight defensemen.

“I think 14 is the target,” Shannon said. “Fourteen should be the target. I’m not sure on the D yet, on the number. The coaches want seven, and that’s a manageable number, and with any luck, that’s where we’ll get. Maybe eight, though.”

One glaring omission from the cut list was a goaltender, any goaltender. All six in camp remain in camp, and will remain in town through Thursday, at least.

“This week, we wanted to keep all of the goalies around,” Shannon said. “We want to do some shooting clinics and things like that in practice. None of (the goalies) are under any restrictions for school, so there wasn’t any reason not to keep them at this point, and there isn’t any reason right now to wear the legs out on your top two or three, whichever goalies those may be.”

Among those still in camp is Lewiston’s Connor Anthoine. He can maintain his eligibility to play in the NCAA as long as he continues his tryout on his own dime and does not participate in any preseason games. The Maineiacs’ next such game is Friday, in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, against the Quebec Remparts. That game will count as a home game for the Maineiacs, who will then travel to Quebec for a Remparts home game at Arena Ancienne-Lorette.


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