LEWISTON — If the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles seem like long-lost foes, there’s a reason for that.

When Cape Breton skates into the Androscoggin Bank Colisee to take on the Lewiston Maineiacs on Saturday, it will be the first time the team has visited this season, and just the third time since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, the first after divisional realignment relegated the teams to different parts of the league.

And this year’s edition of the Screaming Eagles is far different than those that have visited in the past. For the first time since the 2004-05 season, the Eagles will not finish with 40 or more victories, and are dwelling near the bottom of the league’s standings for the first time since the Maineiacs joines the QMJHL.

But, Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said, that, in part, is what makes Cape Breton such a difficult opponent for which to prepare.

“They have a decent team, but all year, they just haven’t been able to get it going,” Houle said. “They proved if they work hard, the might be able to beat some teams. They beat Montreal 2-0, and we can’t take this team or any team lightly.

“What concerns me the most is our players knowing they’re that low in the standings,” Houle added. “It’s my job to make sure I relay to them that the work ethic needs to be there, that we need to come and play three periods in order to beat this team.”

Cape Breton has won 15 games this season, but has almost locked down a playoff spot and continues to battle with Val d’Or and Halifax for 14th through 16 position in the overall standings. More important has been the Screaming Eagles’ play of late, though. Despite a 3-7 record in their past 10 games, the Eagles own wins over Telus West-leading Montreal and the PEI Rocket.

Key in those wins was solid goaltending, particularly from Andrew Hayes, this week’s third star in the QMJHL.

Lewiston, meanwhile, has started to once again ramp up the intensity. The Maineiacs have won nine of 11, and as quietly as any team has been able to do this season, they’ve been able to sneak back into the race for a top-four playoff position. With four wins in a row, Lewiston is now just one point back of Drummondville for that fourth spot, and the teams each have 16 games remaining.

“We like it like that, we’re flying under the radar,” Houle said. “All the other teams aren’t concerned with us right now. We’re doing what we’re doing, trying to win some games, and that’s how we like it.”

That said, Houle also hopes the team will continue to respond, and give the rest of the league no choice but to notice as the playoffs draw closer.

“I’m pretty excited, we’re clawing our way up the standings, and we hope to keep playing well to stay where we are or move up,” Houle said.

Faceoff between the Maineiacs and Screaming Eagles is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Colisee.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.