Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak, right, stops a shot by Minnesota’s Luke Kunin (19) as Boston’s Matt Grzelcyk (48) helps defend during an NHL game April 4, 2019, in St. Paul, Minn. Halak, a former Lewiston Maineiac, has played a key role for Bruins this season. AP file photo

The legacy of high-level hockey in Lewiston-Auburn lives on in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, and the upcoming best-of-seven series between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues will end with another Lewiston Maineiac’s name being engraved on the Stanley Cup.

The question this year is, which one?

For the first time since the Maineiacs’ inception in 2003 (and unfortunate demise in 2011), two of the club’s former players will face each other in a Stanley Cup Final. The winner will join current Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier as the second Maineiac with his name on the trophy.

For most area fans, the hope is that it’s another goaltender.

IMPORTANT BACKUP

Jaroslav Halak’s best save of the postseason for the Boston Bruins has been a dandy glove stop on a deflected puck — into the Bruins’ bench.

His reflexes were still on point, despite being firmly stapled to the pine for the team’s playoff run, and he saved a member of the training staff from a nasty lump.

That he’s seen no game action in 17 playoff contests this postseason appears to be of little consequence to the Slovakian-born netminder, who was a perfect 1A complement to starter Tuukka Rask during the regular season. Because of his play then, the Bruins are in this position now.

Halak posted a 22-11-4 record this season with a 2.34 GAA and .922 save percentage with five shutouts. When Rask needed a break, Halak was there. When the team needed a change of pace between the pipes, he was there again.

Halak is one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Final, despite the fact he hasn’t patrolled the crease since April 4 — fittingly, a shutout.

“He was outstanding this year,” said Marc Champagne, Halak’s goalie coach in Lewiston who still works out with him in the offseason. “You need to have solid backup. I don’t consider him as a backup, I consider him a strong 1A. It stabilizes the position, and you don’t have to worry about who’s in net.”

Bernier would know about that, too. Halak’s former junior teammate already has his name on the Stanley Cup from that 2012 run as Jonathan Quick’s primary backup.

“If your other goalie can play 30 games, it takes a lot of stress off,” Bernier said. “If you look at which goalies have won the Cup, most years, they’re below 55 games in the season. Goalies playing 70, 72 games, it’s a grind, and we can get pretty tired near the end.”

This season, Halak played that role perfectly, picking Rask up when he needed it, and performing like a No. 1 for the Bruins when they needed it.

“He’s always proved himself,” Champagne said. “When I first saw him, I knew his character would take him a long way. We cannot say enough, he’s a great person. Now he’s in a position where, he’s close to having his name on the Cup.”

Stars_Blues_Hockey_17991

St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) reaches for the puck after falling to the ice with Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell (23), of Finland, during the second period in Game 5 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series Friday, May 3, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ANOTHER SHOT

In 2018, David Perron came tantalizingly close to becoming the Maineiacs’ second name on the Cup, reaching the final series with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Washington Capitals spoiled the feel-good story, downing the upstart Knights in the final.

Now back with St. Louis for the third time in his career, Perron has another crack at hockey immortality. A fixture on the Blues’ second line, his game hasn’t really changed since his time in Lewiston. And that’s a good thing.

“It’s amazing what he was able to do with the puck,” former Lewiston coach Clem Jodoin said. “In the corners, he was always coming out with the puck. He’s not a big guy and he’s not the fastest skater, but he’s so strong on the puck, he can make plays under pressure.”

Bernier, who skated with Perron on the 2007 President’s Cup-winning Lewiston team, loved having someone with an edge on his side of the ice.

“One thing I always really admired about (Perron) is he’s got tremendous skills, but he’s got an edge,” Bernier said. “He doesn’t mind getting feisty a little bit. He goes to the corners, he goes to the dirty areas in front. I always liked his game.”

Bernier had a front row seat as the Kings eliminated Perron and the Blues in 2012, on their way to a Stanley Cup win.

Perron’s edgy play may also help the Blues combat the Bruins’ noted pest, Brad Marchand, who skated for Val d’Or in that 2007 QMJHL final.

“It’s a player you hate, but you would like to have him on your side,” Jodoin said of Marchand. “He’s always going under your skin, all the time, all the time. It’s part of the game, hockey is a game of emotion, and you control those emotions you’re going to do well. He wanted to win, all the time.

“But we did a hell of a job against him that year,” Jodoin continued, his smile almost audible over the phone. “We won in four games that year.”

ON THE BIG STAGE

Marchand has been with the Bruins his whole career, playing a year and a half in Providence before sticking with the NHL club in 2009. Perron’s career has taken a series of turns, each leading him back to St. Louis. He played 2007-13 with the Blues before bouncing to Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, back to the Blues, Vegas via expansion, and back to the Blues again. This past offseason, he resigned in St. Louis for a third time, on a four-year deal.

Halak has seen action for Montreal, St. Louis, Washington, the New York Islanders and, finally, Boston.

This season, they’ve all made it to the Stanley Cup final. In 2007, Perron’s Maineiacs swept Marchand’s Foreurs for the league crown. In 2019, Bruins faithful are hoping Marchand, alongside Halak, exacts his revenge on the much larger stage.

Either way, Lewiston-Auburn’s hockey legacy wins.

Justin Pelletier covered the Lewiston Maineiacs for the Sun Journal and later served as the paper’s sports editor before becoming the Boston Herald’s sports editor last year.


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