Home Opener ’08 Thoughts
Before I get into the game, I just want to say how great it is to be back to the rink. I’ll get into that later on next week as a wrap on the weekend, but the people that are affiliated with this club from the front office, to the arena staff, as well as the fans, are the best. Nothing like coming home.
As official scorer Jim Anderschat was handing out line sheets in the press box last night, looking up and down the list didn’t prove the obvious by the end of the game: pride, heart and determination were healthy scratches for two-thirds of the game.
Sure, the first 15 minutes of period one was very well played by the young MAINEiacs as they came out strong, got some quality chances on an early power play, and controlled the flow. Tom Michalik’s blast from the point followed with an ensuing scrum in front of the net as Mr. Heart Lucas Labelle’s stick connected on play and made it 1-0 Lewiston. Then defensive corps vets Michael Ward and Patrick Cusack found themselves in the penalty box together and the youthful group showed strength again, killing off 1:25 of a two man advantage which earned the cheer of the faithful at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. What should have been a lift for the club, slowly started to errode the team instead. Fresh off the plane from Dallas, Pierre-Alexander Vandall connected on a power-play goal on a post-to-post play just :12 into a penalty to Matt Bourdeau and tied the game for the Cataractes, and the momentum started to shift. A five minute major and a game misconduct for slew-footing to Maxime Legault of the Cataractes to open the second period, as well as a complete 2 minute two man advantage in the middle of that major yielded nothing.
If anyone told me that Lucas Labelle would have three goals in three games for the Lewiston MAINEiacs, I would have snickered very sarcastically. Truth be known, Labelle really was the only player to show up to make things happen Friday night. The Scarborough, Ontario native who has bounced around two junior leagues has found a real home here, because he does the things that matter in this game: relentless battle, determination to get the job done, and a desire to win. Of all the MAINEiacs players that went to bed Friday night, only one could look in the mirror and say, “Yeah, I gave it all I had.”
For the rest, one hopes that Lewiston Head Coach & GM Ed Harding sent them home with a mandate to find their hearts, because they need to find them. The talent is here, but even the best talent is useless with the heart, pride, and determination to go with it.
I don’t want to hear that excuse of ‘Well, we don’t have Gratchev, Paquette, Reul or Delmas.” That doesn’t fly with me. Every team in the league more or less is contending with key guys away to pro camps right now. Shawinigan is without most of it’s top guns as well. It’s a push, more or less, and it all boils down to who wants in more, and who is willing to make the sacrifice and pay the price for victory.
We’ll see tonight.