LEWISTON — Reunited for the first time since the very beginning of the season, the Lewiston Maineiacs’ “Lac St. Louis” line didn’t take long to click — all of about 30 seconds.

Michael Chaput swept home a rebound, the third on the same sequence in front of Rouyn-Noranda goalie Robin Gusse, 31 seconds into the third period on his first shift of the night with both Matthew Bissonnette and Stefan Fournier to help the Lewiston Maineiacs pull away from a pesky Huskies squad and earn a 6-2 victory in front of 1,898 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“I wasn’t totally happy with the first two periods, but I thought in the third, we did what we were supposed to do,” Maineiacs’ coach J.F. Houle said. “We got pucks deep, we moved the puck D to D and up, and we scored on our chances.”

The win was also another chance for rookie goaltender Antoine Bibeau to show the folks in Lewiston what he can do. Used primarily as an emergency backup this season, Bibeau started his second game of the season Friday.

And he earned his second win.

“The team played well. They helped me clear the puck in front,” Bibeau said. “It’s been a very good experience playing with the guys here. This is a very good team, and it was good to see some junior shots. Now I’ll go continue to work hard and hopefully come back here.”

Bibeau’s only other start this season came on Nov. 14. It took overtime that night as the Maineiacs came from behind to defeat the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, 3-2. The only other action Bibeau had seen this season was a brief relief stint the night before his start, also against Baie-Comeau.

“He made some big saves to keep us in there early on,” Houle said. “He’s a good goalie, and he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Lewiston drew first blood, just 1:20 into the contest, when Olivier Dame-Malka loaded up his cannon of a shot and fired the puck toward the cage from the left point. The shot clanged off the post, ricocheted off of Gusse’s back and into the net for a 1-0 Maineiacs lead.

Bryce Milson collected his first goal with Lewiston at 15:10, slamming home a deflected shot that originated with Sam Finn at the left point and hit Lewiston forward Sam Henley on the way through.

Jessyko Bernard netted his team-leading 15th goal for the Huskies with 2:02 to play in the first on the power play, with help from former Lewiston defenseman Mathieu Brisebois, moments after Lewiston’s Antoine Houde-Caron was bothered from behind on a shorthanded breakaway and run into the back boards.

“I was happy with the effort, but there are some details we have to work on,” Rouyn-Noranda assistant coach Garry Parke said.

Parke is filling in for head coach Andre Tourigny, who recently won a silver medal as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He also had to juggle with some new lines Friday, as the Huskies recently completed seven trades and welcomed six new players into the lineup.

“It’s harder for the players than for us as coaches,” Parke said. “They have to learn a new power play, a new PK, so it’s harder for them, but it will come with time.”

The Huskies stunned the Maineiacs early in the second frame. Jason Houde escaped behind the Lewiston defense and went in alone on Bibeau, beating the Maineiacs’ rookie keeper 5-hole to knot things up at 2-2.

Antoine Houde-Caron cleaned up in front after a powerful rush up the right side by Fournier left the puck dangling at the top of the crease with Gusse out of position, putting Lewiston back in front. Chaput reestablished the Maineiacs’ two-goal cushion with a patient snipe from the right slot after a slick feed from Matthew Bissonnette left him with plenty of time to himself.

After Chaput’s tally early in the third, Milson added his second goal of the game on a feed from Kirill Kabanov to cap the scoring.

The same two teams will square off again Saturday night at the Colisee, with the faceoff scheduled for 7 p.m.


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