Maine Hockey Journal

Maineiacs get a little breathing room in a tight playoff race

Lewiston, ME – With just three points separating the Lewiston Maineiacs and the Shawinigan Cataractes in the standings, rookie goaltender Andrey Makarov came up big for the Maineiacs, stopping 37 shots in the 4-2 victory in front of 1,805 fans at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“Makarov has been playing well, he has won six out of the seven games,” said Lewiston Head Coach J.F. Houle. “He’s young and he needs to play to get better. There’s going to be a lot of splitting time here in the next twenty games.”

Houle didn’t have any second thoughts putting Makarov in a game of this magnitude.

“I don’t worry when he’s in net,” he said. “I am not worried nor are our players worried. They played well in front of him and he made the big saves. Nicolas Champion is older, but Makarov needs to learn play against good teams too.”

It was the start the J.F Houle was looking for as the Maineiacs jumped out to the early 2-0 in the first period. Cole Hawes continued to be on fire, tipping in the puck as it hit the ice off a Zach Shannon shot from the point. Antoine Houde-Caron was given the secondary assist at the 3:51 mark.

With the Maineiacs on the power play, Kirill Kabanov jammed home his sixth goals seconds past the six minute mark. Michael Chaput and Matthew Bissonnette received the assists on the goal.

“I think Lewiston is one of the best teams getting scoring chances with their transitions,” said Shawinigan Cataractes coach Eric Veilleux. “We aren’t there yet, but we are pretty good as well.”

Then the Maineiacs had a lapse for a minute that got Shawinigan back into the game. Ryan Kavanagh ripped a shot past Andrey Makarov at the 9:23 mark. The play was set up by Dave Labrecque and Dillon Donnelly. Only 55 seconds later, Dave Labrecque recorded his 19th goal of the season with Peter Sakaris getting the lone assist.

“I thought we started off (well), and after they asked a review of (Kabanov’s) goal it kinda of broken the momentum,” Houle said. “It was like a time out, and they came in and started hitting. You can tell they gained the momentum and scored those two goals.”

Eric Veilleux, Shawinigan’s head coach, wasn’t too pleased with his team’s effort.

“We played a better second period, that’s was pretty much the only period we played,” Veilleux said. “Our defensemen were very average moving the puck and getting the puck quick out to our forwards. It was one of our worse games I’ve seen in a long time.”

Ian Saab broke the deadlock nearly halfway through the second period when his innocent looking shot found the back of the net. Antoine Houde-Caron and Pierre-Olivier Morin tallied assists on the Saab’s second marker of the season.

Saab was glad he got a chance at redemption.

“I missed the first one and I was looking to get it on net,” said Ian Saab. “I (saw) it all the way through and it went in. I was ecstatic.”

“I thought (Saab) played real well tonight,” Houle stated. “Zach (Shannon) played well, Jonathan Parisien worked hard and Makarov made some big saves. It was a good team win”

Michael Chaput stretched the lead with a shorthanded tally as he went through the defensemen and flipped it past Gabriel Girard. The goal came at the 10:57 mark. Etienne Brodeur was given an assist on the play.

“It was very important and I was impressed how he kept moving feet even though two guys were hooking him.”

Lewiston was 1-for-6 on the power play while Shawinigan was 0-for-6.

Girard made 35 saves in the losing effort.

NOTES: Samuel Carrier was named the league’s second star for the month of January. In nine games, the Lewiston blue-liner registered three goals and ten assists for a total of thirteen points in nine games… Maineiacs defensemen Sam Finn and Olivier Dame-Malka both served the first game of their three-game suspension.

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