The Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League opened camp with fitness tests Wednesday and will take the ice for the first time today at the Colisee.
“I think a lot of the players are in great shape,” said Jean Francis Houle, who is entering his first full season as coach.
Fitness tests for the 42 players in camp included a bench press, chin-ups, overhead squat, sprints and a mile run.
“You could tell a lot of them worked hard this summer, so we’re pretty excited about that,” said Houle. “It’s pretty easy to see the guys who worked out over the summer and the ones who didn’t.”
The morning practice sessions at the Colisee are free.
The Maineiacs will scrimmage today and Friday at 7 p.m. at the arena.
Admission for both games will be by donation.
“What I try to do is split the veterans among the two squads, and plug in the newly drafted (players) and invitees to try to make (the teams) as even as possible for the scrimmages.”
The Maineiacs will play an exhibition against the Victoriaville Tigres at 4 p.m. Saturday — their only preseason game in Lewiston. Admission will be $5 per person.
Following the first round of cuts Monday, the team will travel to the Maritimes to play a preseason schedule of games starting Aug. 26 in Moncton, New Brunswick.
The Maineiacs will open the regular season Sept. 10-11 at home with a two-game series against Rimouski. The Oceanic are coached by a former Lewiston coach, Clem Jodoin.
While the squad remains among the youngest in the league, 23 players have suited up for at least one regular-season game with the Maineiacs, and three of the team’s 20-year-olds — goaltender Nicholas Champion, defenseman Olivier Dame-Malka and left wing Antoine Houde-Caron — have considerable playing experience with other teams.
Pierre-Olivier Morin, who led the Maineiacs in points last season, and their leading goal scorer, Michael Chaput, are both back for their third season. Samuel Carrier and Samuel Finn, Lewiston’s two top defensemen from last season, also will return.
For the eighth consecutive year, the roster includes at least one player who has been drafted by the NHL. In June, Chaput was selected 89th overall by Philadelphia, and Carrier was selected 176th overall by Washington.
Dillon Fournier, the top pick in this year’s QMJHL draft, also is in camp, joining his older brother, Stefan.
Dillon Fournier is one of the 11 players drafted by the Maineiacs two months ago who are trying out for the team.
The recent draftees also include Connor Anthoine, a 17-year-old forward from Lewiston who played Junior A hockey for the Green Mountain Glades in Burlington, Vt., last season.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: