LEWISTON — With a road split in their rearview mirror, the Lewiston Maineiacs are looking to do themselves one better this weekend as they again hit the road for a pair of weekend games.

The Maineiacs will spend Friday traveling, with a rest stop scheduled for Fredericton, New Brunswick on the way to Bathurst, where the maineiacs will quare off against the Titan on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The team then heads to Rimouski to face the Oceanic in a Sunday matinee.

Neither team, Maineiacs’ coach J.F. Houle said, is going to provide a walk in the park.

“Both teams have very good players, both teams are going to be tough to play against,” Houle said.

Acadie-Bathurst will be the more intriguing matchup. Six Lewiston players at one time laced up their skates and slipped into a Titan uniform, many of them within the past calendar year, including team captain Cameron Critchlow.

“We have a lot of players that came from there, which adds to it,” Houle said. “It adds to the rivalry a little bit, give the players an added incentive.”

Not that they should need the extra boost. Acadie-Bathurst is one of a half dozen teams in addition to the Maineiacs looking to lock down home ice advantage in the first and second rounds of the playoffs. The Titan are 30-14-0-1 this season, good for 61 points through 45 games. Lewiston has a 30-15-0-2 mark for 62 points through 47 games.

With the early departure and a stop in Fredericton for a practice, the Maineiacs hope to avoid the slow start that plagued them against Victoriaville last Saturday.

“Hopefully we’ll be fresh this time,” Houle said. “We’re going to leave early, try to stay ahead of the snow they say we’re getting and just be ready from the first period we play.”

Nick Champion, pulled in the team’s 7-5 setback at Victoriaville last Saturday, will get the start Saturday against his former club.

“Champion will start against Bathurst,” Houle said. “He’s played there, he knows the building. He’s a veteran. He’s got a lot of games under his belt in that building.”

Champion will be behind a team whose offense is firing on all cylinders right now. The Maineiacs have scored 192 goals this season, second-most in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

“Our offense is doing well, and we’re scoring a lot of goals, even in the games we lose,” Houle said. “The defensive part is the one that we need to stay on as coaches to make sure the guys don’t cheat or don’t take days off.”

To help on that end, Houle and the rest of the staff worked the defensive zone hard in practice this week.

“Last week we didn’t get much time to work on ‘D’ zone like we wanted,” Houle said. “We did a lot of that this week. The guys know what to do, at this point it’s just keeping it fresh in their memory.”


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