For many fans of the Lewiston Maineiacs, the beleaguered junior hockey team that left Lewiston in 2011, the players who called the Androscoggin Bank Colisee home for varying lengths of time became adopted members of the hockey community, and of the community at large.

Another one of the former team’s young stars — Michael Chaput — makes his return to the Colisee on Friday with the Springfield Falcons.

“I don’t think it will be too different, really,” Chaput said Thursday. “It’s been a while. The biggest difference will probably be the locker rooms where we are.”

Chaput skated with the Maineiacs from 2008-11, the team’s final three seasons. In the team’s last year, he put up 59 points and helped the team reach the Quebec Major Junior semifinals with a team that was considered a massive underdog in the quarterfinal round. In the playoffs, he registered 20 points in 13 games.

The following year, after the league disbanded the Maineiacs, Chaput and teammates Pier-Olivier Morin and Kirill Kabanov all went to play for Shawinigan in the QMJHL, where they won junior hockey’s Holy Grail, the Memorial Cup.

This year is Chaput’s second in the American Hockey League, and he earned his first call-up to the National Hockey League this season. In 17 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he has one assist and one penalty.

“It’s getting used to playing pro hockey, and I think things are going pretty well,” Chaput said. “I just try to work as hard as I can.”

With a full season under his belt, Chaput said this season has been more about expanding his repertoire than about learning the ropes.

“After a full year, I just feel like I have a lot more experience, I grew a lot, and I feel stronger,” Chaput said. “I’m more comfortable now, more confident to make plays and to try new things out.”

It’s been nearly three years since he’s played with the Maineiacs, but many of the friendships he made with the team are still strong.

“I still talk to a lot of the guys, so many of us are from Montreal,” Chaput said. “(Stefan) Fournier, (Matthew) Bissonnette, guys like that. I still talk to the guys from the Maritimes once in a while, too.”

Knowing that he’ll get a few cheers when he takes the ice Friday brought a smile to Chaput’s face.

“That would be great,” he said. “If we get a few more cheers for our team, that’s a good thing.”


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.