Maine Hockey Journal

17-year-olds producing for Maineiacs

Lewiston, ME – Since December 30th, the Lewiston Maineiacs have scored 106 goals. Even more impressive is that 49 of the goals (46.2%) have come from Michael Chaput, Matthew Bissonnette, Jess Tanguay, and Samuel Carrier.

What do they all have in common? They are all 17-years-old and are eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft in Los Angeles in June.

“Our 17-year old’s have been good this year,” said Lewiston Maineiacs Head Coach Jean-Francois Houle. “We got a lot of production out of them and it’s quite exciting for this young group. They are getting the bulk of the points right now, not to say the older guys are not playing well, but it bodes well for the future.”

Jess Tanguay notched 14 goals and 12 assists in 29 games with Lewiston after being acquired in a deal with Acadie-Bathurst.

Three out of the four players were acquired through trades and have exceeded expectations.

“That’s how it always is with trades, people always question trades,” Houle said. “Tanguay has been a great addition to our team. Bissonnette is a good hockey player and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. They will be playing a lot for us in the coming years.”

Carrier was acquired at the QMJHL Draft last June.

Bissonnette knew the pressure would be on him with the assets the Maineiacs gave up to acquire his services from Chicoutimi.

“There is definitely a little pressure with giving up a first rounder, a third rounder, and a fifth rounder,” said Matthew Bissonnette. “It takes a hard summer, and hopefully I can prove my point.”

He ended up with 12 goals and 19 assists in 27 games in a Maineiacs uniform.

For the first time in franchise history, the team didn’t have a 30 goal scorer, but Michael Chaput shows he has that potential as he potted 28 goals this season to lead the team and added 27 assists.

“(Chaput) plays every facet of the game, power play, penalty killing, he has the most goals on our team,” Houle said. “He’s a good player and he’s strong physically and hopefully he gets drafted. He’s going to be a big part of this team for the future.”

Chaput won the Federal Distributors trophy for the most improved player on Tuesday night at the team’s award banquet. He missed half of last season with a shoulder injury.

“Right now I feel great, it was obviously hard in the beginning, and took a little time to adjust,” Michael Chaput said.

Houle sees the development curve for Samuel Carrier and the rest of the guys.

“One year makes a huge difference in the life of those young guys. Next year they are going to take another step, so, I am pretty excited about that.”

Carrier contributed 10 goals and 32 assists this season.

“We have a lot better systems and J.F. is a good teacher,” Samuel Carrier said. “He has helped me a lot too.”

The playoffs are called the second season, but a call might come for one of these players for the third season from Hockey Canada, the IIHF World Under-18 Championships in April.

“For sure, it’s always in the back of your mind,” Bissonnette stated. “You want to make it past the first round (of the playoffs) with an upset.”

“If we don’t make it far enough in the playoffs, I hope to get the call obviously, it’s a great thing for any 17-year-old,” Chaput added. “If I don’t, I won’t put my head down, I will keep my head up and if I do, I will take advantage.”

Houle hasn’t heard from the governing body for the sport in Canada.

“We haven’t had any phone calls about that or anything, but you never know what (Hockey Canada) is looking for.”

The NHL draft is in the back of everyone’s mind

“Just like any other kid, I am sure they look at the draft rankings,” Houle added. “They shouldn’t worry about that, they should worry about having fun right now – going out on the ice and play hard.”

“Getting drafted doesn’t mean much anymore. It’s about making it there either way, drafted or not drafted.”

“Right now I am just focusing on the team, but as soon as the season is over, the focus goes into training and the draft,” Bissonnette said. “We will see what happens there.”

“Obviously it’s on the back of my mind, but I haven’t focused on it,” Chaput said. “I just focused on the season ad my playing (ability). I am going to finish strong and hope for the best.”

The Maineiacs open up the 2010 Playoffs Friday night at 7:30pm against the Drummondville Voltigeurs in Drummondville.

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