Maine Hockey Journal

Rookies are living up to expectations in Lewiston

Only a month into the QMJHL season the Lewiston Maineiacs are getting contributions from all their rookies on the team.

“They are adjusted real well,” said Maineiacs head coach J.F. Houle. “Dillon Fournier has been an impact player for us. (Alex) Zafris, (Cole) Hawes, and Christophe (Lalonde) have been good at forward, plugging in a few points here and there.”

Dillon Fournier came into the season with a lot of hype, being the number one overall pick in the QMJHL Midget Draft this past summer, but doesn’t feel the extra pressure of having high expectations placed on him.

“At the start, you feel the extra pressure, but once the season got rolling, you got to play your game,” he said.

Houle said he’s getting use to his surroundings.

“I think he’s getting comfortable out there and he takes a few chances once in awhile,” Houle stated. “At the beginning, he was a little shy, but now he’s really has come out (and play).”

“The first thing you notice is the speed of the game,” said Fournier, who played for Lac St. Louis last season. “You have to make decisions a lot faster, other than that, I’ve tried to keep the same game I’ve had.”

Fournier knows he needs to continue to work on the basics.

“I need to work on the fundamentals like skating, stick handling, and how you play in the corner,” he said.

It’s also helpful to have his older brother, Stefan on the team.

“If I have any questions, I always have someone to talk to and there’re guys on the team that I know,” the younger Fournier added.

In 13 games, Fournier has recorded a goal and two assists.

Lalonde had a late start to his season due to a five game suspension for a hit from behind, but for the second round draft pick of the Maineiacs, the checking role fits his game just fine.

“He’s doing real well,” Houle added. “It’s a little tough, he’s on the checking line, and he has to get out there to finish hits. He has to get pucks deep and do the little things – he’s pretty good at that.”

During the preseason against the Moncton Wildcats, Lalonde was suspended for the first five games of the regular season after hitting an opposing player from behind. It was a hard lesson learned for the 16-year old.

“(I learned) to never hit from behind,” said Lalonde. “Everything is (so) fast and you have to be respectful against the opposing team.”

Overall, Lalonde couldn’t be any happier to be in the QMJHL.

“I am very excited, it’s very nice to play for the Maineiacs and help them to win,” he added. “I was excited to leave home because I was living in a little town and (Lewiston) is a hockey town.”

So far this season, Lalonde has a goal and an assist in eight games this season.

Zafris, unlike Fournier and Lalonde, was a free agent invite to the team’s training camp.

“He was good in training camp and throughout (the season),” said Houle. “He’s very reliable defensively, he reads the plays well, has good hockey sense, and doesn’t make to many mistakes.”

Zafris has five assists in 12 games.

The other rookies on the team include Andrey Makarov, Cole Hawes, and Jonah Coonishish-Coon.

NOTES: The Maineiacs opponent this weekend, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, announced Friday they have relieved head coach Stéphane Hains of his duties. Assistant coach Serge Poudrier will serve as the interim head coach. The Drakkar have begun the season with a 1-10 record.

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