Maine Hockey Journal

Maineiacs relish chance to match up with QMJHL’s top teams

Playing on the road is tough enough to begin with.

Playing against two of the top teams in the QMJHL’s Atlantic Division – the Moncton Wildcats and the Saint John Sea Dogs – plus the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and it’s even tougher.

“Certainly this isn’t an easy road trip,” said Lewiston Maineiacs Head Coach J.F. Houle. “It could be a good test for us in these three games.

The team’s last two road trips also saw them play the cream of the crop in the league. Houle believes the team should be ready for another key road trip.

“I think we are mentally prepared and I think we are ready,” he added. “We had two good practices – one yesterday and one today – we will have a pre-game skate tomorrow and I think we will be ready.”

The first stop on the trip begins Tuesday in Cape Breton on where the Screaming Eagles are in a rebuilding mode to host the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup. They sit fifth in their division with a 9-17-0-2 record.

“They are competitive, Cape Breton is in the middle of the pack right now, they’ve been playing hard in certain games,” Houle added. “It will be a good game.”

The Screaming Eagles are led by Viktor Hertzberg, who has 15 goals and 18 assists in 29 games. After three years of having Olivier Roy manning the goal, Cape Breton has already had three players playing significant time in net.

On Thursday, Lewiston will have a rematch with the Moncton Wildcats, who sit behind the Saint John Sea Dogs for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

“Against Moncton, you have to match their intensity, they are a real intense team,” Houle said. “They are well-coached and we need to make sure we move our skates. We need to be disciplined.”

Lewiston went on the penalty kill only four times, but they were untimely penalties. Moncton’s first goal came with five seconds remaining in the first period on the power play.

To end the road trip on Friday, the Sea Dogs are coming in with the league’s best offense with 128 goals in 26 games. Along with Cape Breton and Halifax in the Atlantic Division, they are also looking to host the Memorial Cup.

“We haven’t played them this year,” stated Houle. “We’ve only seen them on video and everybody says they are the best team in our league. We are going to be prepared and be ready. We are going to take it in stride and work as hard as we can.”

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The team announced rookie forward Jonah Coonishish-Coon has been assigned to the St-Jerome Panthers of the Quebec AAA Junior Hockey League. The 17-year old hadn’t figured in on the score sheet in nine games this season and suffered from a shoulder injury also.

“It’s important for our players to get a lot of ice time,” said Maineiacs General Manager Roger Shannon in the team’ press release on Monday afternoon. “Because of how much talent we have on our team, it’s tough to get that ice time here, so we feel that this move will help further Jonah’s development as a player.”

NOTES: Hockey Canada announced the World Junior selection camp roster Monday afternoon and six QMJHL players were named to the roster. Goaltender Olivier Roy of the Acadie Bathurst looks to be one of the two goalies named to the team for the tournament in Buffalo from December 26th to January 5th. Michaël Bournival (Shawinigan), Sean Couturier (Drummondville), and Louis LeBlanc (Montreal) are the forwards named to the camp. Two defensemen named are Simon Despres and Brandon Gormley, although it appears Gormley will be out for the tournament due to the dislocated knee he suffered in Lewiston on Friday night.

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